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Author Notes:

E-mail: fletch@berkeley.edu

For author contributions and acknowledgements, please see the full article.

Competing interests: The authors are co-inventors on a patent application filed by the University of California, Berkeley on the technology described in this manuscript.

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by grants from the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, the Blum Center for Developing Economies, Microsoft Research, Intel, and the Vodafone Americas Foundation to DAF.

DNB acknowledges an NDSEG Graduate Fellowship for funding.

NAS has been funded through an NSF IGERT grant to the UC Berkeley Biophysics Group.


  • Science & Technology
  • Multidisciplinary Sciences
  • Fluorescence imaging
  • Cell phones
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Tuberculosis
  • Bright field microscopy
  • Diagnostic medicine
  • Light microscopy
  • Sputum

Mobile Phone Based Clinical Microscopy for Global Health Applications


Journal Title:



Volume 4, Number 7


, Pages e6320-e6320

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Light microscopy provides a simple, cost-effective, and vital method for the diagnosis and screening of hematologic and infectious diseases. In many regions of the world, however, the required equipment is either unavailable or insufficiently portable, and operators may not possess adequate training to make full use of the images obtained. Counterintuitively, these same regions are often well served by mobile phone networks, suggesting the possibility of leveraging portable, camera-enabled mobile phones for diagnostic imaging and telemedicine. Toward this end we have built a mobile phone-mounted light microscope and demonstrated its potential for clinical use by imaging P. falciparum-infected and sickle red blood cells in brightfield and M. tuberculosis-infected sputum samples in fluorescence with LED excitation. In all cases resolution exceeded that necessary to detect blood cell and microorganism morphology, and with the tuberculosis samples we took further advantage of the digitized images to demonstrate automated bacillus counting via image analysis software. We expect such a telemedicine system for global healthcare via mobile phone - offering inexpensive brightfield and fluorescence microscopy integrated with automated image analysis - to provide an important tool for disease diagnosis and screening, particularly in the developing world and rural areas where laboratory facilities are scarce but mobile phone infrastructure is extensive.

Copyright information:

© 2009 Breslauer et al.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

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