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Flat's Story

At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.

Working in SAP provides me with the opportunity to work with a lot of passionate people, addressing one of the world’s biggest pain points.

Flat Chen

Did you know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death? In China, nearly 11,000 people are diagnosed with a steady increase in incidences over the past 15 years.

Lung cancer patients do have a very good survival rate if the cancer is diagnosed correctly in its early stages.

A lung cancer screening typically involves making CT scans and then examining the images for known patterns or nodules. It takes a specialist with a very good eye to recognize the patterns early. Doctors are not always able to detect the nodules, which are hard to see when the cancer is easiest to treat.

SAP employee Flat Chen saw an opportunity after talking to his friend Dr. Yang a prominent pulmonologist in China. After becoming friends during an MBA program in Shanghai, Dr. Yang turned to medicine while Flat Chen started his career in the technology industry with SAP in China. Flat’s drive to apply new technologies to solve real-world business problems has propelled his career.

While meeting over a beer in 2017, Dr. Yang told Flat that he was looking for a faster and more accurate way to screen his patients and wanted to know if they could join the race to develop a better machine learning solution for screening CT scans. Flat took the problem back to SAP to see if there was a team that could apply machine learning to the X-ray screening process.

Applying his skills as developer, product manager, and entrepreneur, Flat gathered a team of developers under the leadership of colleague Zion Chen at SAP Labs China. Together they began working on a proof of concept for Dr. Yang. Interest in contributing to the project was high as many employees knew someone who had been touched by lung cancer.

The team developed a prototype that was able to pinpoint signs of lung cancer in an CT scan. They submitted their prototype to the demo day at SAP Labs China and came out on top of the competition, which led to even greater resources and support from the management team at SAP’s development center in Shanghai. The solution known as Argus has now become one of the top contenders in the social entrepreneurship initiative SAP One Billion Lives, which aims to solve the world’s biggest problems.

"Working in SAP provides me with the opportunity to work with a lot of passionate people, addressing one of the world’s biggest pain points", says Flat.

The Argus prototype has helped Dr. Yang and his colleagues to gain important initial experience applying machine learning to screen patients: "We have a working prototype that has already surpassed my expectations. The solution not only helps us analyze more patients in a shorter period of time, but it also improves the accuracy of detection. It’s really powerful. We now trust it and think it’s the future."

More collaborations like the one between Dr. Yang and Flat can help doctors more effectively screen more cancer patients to save lives.

It is amazing what is possible and how teams come together to help improve people’s lives.

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