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Celebrating a curious mind: Steven Keating 1988-2019

Alumnus Steven John Keating SM ’12, PhD ’16 died from brain cancer on July 19 in the age of 31.

Keating got his master’s degree and PhD in mechanical manufacturing and was a person in the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated question team. He inspired countless individuals with his courageous, research-driven method of battling cancer tumors and had been a champion for patient usage of wellness information. 

Curiosity was a power in Keating’s life. Developing up in Calgary, Canada, he spent a big portion of his childhood trying out and creating devices. This predilection in making led to not just his passion for engineering, but in addition their affinity for movie and photography. As an undergraduate at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, Keating pursued their twin passions — earning a twin level in mechanical and products manufacturing alongside a qualification in film and news.

This year, Keating fulfilled their lifelong desire going to MIT and enrolled like a graduate pupil learning mechanical manufacturing. He joined up with the Media Lab’s Mediated question group under his co-advisor Neri Oxman, the Sony Corporation Career Development connect Professor of Media Arts and Sciences.

Within Media Lab, Keating carried out analysis on additive production and artificial biology. He forced the limits of 3-D publishing and developed a technology that may 3-D printing the inspiration of the building. This technology ended up being recently acquired by NASA for possible programs within their quest for landing from the moon by 2024.

“Steve used humor while solving equations and inspired a feeling of empathy whenever discussing ethical dilemmas associated with robotics and synthetic biology,” Oxman reflects. “The projects he left are much live and will continue to have significant effect on the actual and societal surroundings we inhabit.”

In Department of Mechanical Engineering, Keating served as a training assistant for the senior capstone course 2.009 (Product Engineering Processes), alongside their co-advisor, David Wallace, teacher of mechanical manufacturing. He in addition aided teach the favorite introductory training course 2.00b (Toy item Design) with Wallace.

“Steve had an infectious kindness and interest that elevated those around him, exploring exclusively for the delight and thrill of discovering,” says Wallace. “His training efforts in our freshman model product design and senior product manufacturing design courses made an enduring influence.”

Four years into his graduate scientific studies at MIT, Keating’s globe was switched inverted when a baseball-sized tumefaction was within their mind. The inborn curiosity that had brought him to MIT in the end generated their diagnosis. Inside a 2014 message during the Koch Institute, Keating recalled: “Curiosity is why our company is right here [at MIT] performing study, and ironically that is how I found my tumor.”

As an undergraduate in 2007, Keating had participated in a brain research solely out of fascination. Their MRI scans revealed a little dime-sized problem situated near the odor center of his mind. This understanding caused Keating to get medical assistance whenever, during summer of 2014, he began smelling vinegar and getting problems. A brand new MRI scan revealed a low-grade glioma inside frontal remaining lobe of his brain that would need instant surgery.

After getting this development, Yoel Fink, teacher of products technology and engineering, joined Keating’s life. Fink had previously create a dietary fiber optic scalpel that enabled minimally unpleasant surgery on mind tumors. Because of this, he had been attached to the top neurosurgeons on the planet. Fink place Keating touching E. Antonio Chiocca, neurosurgeon-in-chief and chair associated with the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Chiocca performed the surgery to get rid of their cyst.

In an email to their friends and family in advance of the surgery, Keating blogged: “The world actually beautiful, splendid, and interesting place. But most of all, to me, it’s beautifully fascinated.”

Keating turned out to be anything but a typical client. “Steve confronted his disease such as a true “MITer”: He studied it, researched it, used their creativity and desire for the sciences and engineering to see how far better face this opponent,” explains Chiocca.

Ever the researcher, Keating craved every feasible information point he could get about their diagnosis and therapy. Upon learning that opening medical data needed the approval of a medical professional, he signed up for an MD program while completing his PhD – earning him the nickname ‘MacGyver’ among his peers when you look at the Media Lab.

Keating poured over footage of his 10-hour surgery, examined his own MRI scans, together with their microbiome sequenced. He even 3-D printed a model of their tumor, that he gifted their relatives and buddies like a very unique Christmas decoration. This model led to a cooperation with peers in the Media Lab and Harvard University to build up a brand new method to 3-D printing more in depth models from medical pictures.

Keating obtained 200 gigabytes of his own medical information. Given that knowledge of his or her own MRI scans and medical information led to his prompt analysis, he became a staunch recommend for open-sourcing patient data. He desired to empower customers to get use of their wellness information.

“Steve became a sound for customers’ desires to connect and own the information due to their illness,” adds Chiocca. “He performed this with humility, courage, delight and affability.”

Keating’s crusade on behalf of customers everywhere led to an innovative new York Times article about their attempts in March 2015. Their tale was covered commonly because of the news and influenced many people. He gave a TEDx speak about their experiences, joined the Federal Precision Medicine Task energy, and got an invitation to your White House by President Barack Obama.

“For him it was all about understanding — he was prepared to surrender his privacy and share their data using world to advance the probability of an eventual remedy with this infection,” claims Fink, whom and Oxman stayed close to Keating along with his family members through the entire many years.

In remission due to the attempts of Chiocca and his team of doctors, Keating continued their utilize Oxman within the Mediated thing team. “Even and especially while fighting disease, Steve remained noble inside the ways,” adds Oxman. “Whether using the effort on group-based work or collecting the group to go over a brand new book, it had been humbling to watch him help others as he battled his difficult problem.”

Keating graduated together with his PhD in 2016. He relocated to Silicon Valley, where he worked as a design professional at Apple.

Final summertime after having a routine check-up, he was informed he’d glioblastoma, a cancerous and incurable kind of brain cancer tumors. Even after receiving this devastating analysis, Keating never ever lost sight of this effect he may have on other individuals. He tirelessly advocated for patient access to health information in an effort to save yourself the lives of other people, all while undergoing multiple experimental tests and fearlessly battling for their own life.

“A determining component of their character would be to be gracious and offering as he had been battling the battle of their life,” says Fink.

Though Keating fundamentally succumbed toward condition, other individuals will take up his mantle inside battle for treatment and greater access to client information. 2 days before he passed on, the very first ever Glioblastoma Awareness Day ended up being observed to raise understanding and honor those people who have lost their resides to the hostile form of mind cancer.

“Steve never let the understanding that glioblastoma remains incurable stop him from living his life into fullest without anger and disappointment,” adds Chiocca. “As disease scientists, we’ll continue steadily to research this condition to ensure that Steve’s fight remains our battle.“

His enthusiasm and nature will survive with his former peers at MIT. “Steven’s presence ended up being luminous and so is their legacy,” claims Oxman. “My staff and I also are recognized to carry on where our personal ‘MacGyver’ left-off.”

Keating is survived by their parents, John and Lynn, and his sister, Laura. In lieu of a conventional memorial service, Keating’s family members has established a “cyber occasion” as being a discussion board for individuals to honor and commemorate his inspiring, curiosity-driven life. If you would like to talk about memories, stories, pictures or short video clips honoring Keating’s memory, kindly check out stevenkeating.ca.