By Michael Bratcher
Growing up, Judith James rarely passed up an episode of Star Trek. From her living room in Pond Creek, she sat transfixed as Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise boldly went where no man had gone before. For the future physician and medical researcher, the workings of the ship’s doctor, Leonard “Bones” McCoy, held a special interest.
“I was always intrigued when Dr. McCoy scanned his fellow shipmates with a tricorder,” says James. On the show, which was set in the 23rd century, the—fictional—handheld device allowed McCoy to scan individuals (human or alien) to diagnose illness. The medical tricorder even predicted when an apparently healthy being eventually would fall prey to disease.
“I loved the idea that you could tell people they were going to get sick before it happened,” says James. “But I thought that concept was completely in outer space, far beyond anything that would happen in my own lifetime.”
Turns out that future may not be so far away. And the one-time Trekkie is at the forefront of transforming yesterday’s science fiction into today’s reality.