Dr Tami Yap announced as a Dean’s Innovation Grant Winner for 2020

Dr Tami Yap, a Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Dental School, was recently awarded $50,000 at this year’s Dean’s Innovation Grants pitch event on Thursday 23 October.

Dr Tami Yap

Dr Yap was one of the six shortlisted candidates invited to pitch their research projects in front of a selection committee of external judges.

Dr Yap’s grant will help her in progressing her ‘MouthMap’ project, a digitally-annotated screening tool that catches oral cancer in its early stages by monitoring changes in the skin of the mouth over time. Often, oral cancers are subtle in appearance and grow silently, because they are not painful when small. This leads to a late diagnosis. Mouthmap is about monitoring the changes in the skin of the mouth over time and detecting oral cancer early.

In a compelling pitch to a panel of external judges, Dr Yap explained that the software can potentially replace invasive biopsies and improve accessibility of cancer treatment for patients located outside Metropolitan areas. This is because images can be viewed and reported on remotely, overcoming the obstacle of oral medicine specialists being primarily based in capital cities.

Funding from the award will enable Dr Yap to hire a software engineer with experience designing clinical care platforms. MouthMap is a partnership between the Melbourne Dental School, Victorian company OptiScan and industry partner MoleMap, which has developed comparable technology in the dermatology field.

The Dean’s Innovation grants are awarded annually and are intended to support researchers’ with translating their research projects into clinical practice. The projects must have the potential to significantly improve lives, build the economy or contribute to the sustainability of the health system.