Biomedical Engineering Seminars at Emory

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The event also will be available virtually. Please click here to join via Zoom.

"Biomedical Innovations to Address Global Cancer Inequities"

Nimmi Ramanujam, Ph.D.
Robert W. Carr Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Duke University

The latter half of the 20th century witnessed major reductions in infant and childhood deaths in developing countries. The upshot is that many more people are living to adulthood and old age. Ironically, however, cancer is rapidly out pacing the incidence of infectious diseases. The cancer statistics are staggering. More than two-thirds of the 10 million annual cancer deaths occur in developing countries and this number is expected to double by 2040.Yet, the allocated cancer resources are less than one-third that in developed countries. With rapid advances in low cost, high performance health care innovations, we have the opportunity to leapfrog from entrenched models of cancer care that have been a mainstay in affluent settings to innovative modalities of care - analogous to the demise of landlines in favor of modern cell phones. This is an exciting and realistic prospect. In my talk I will provide examples of specific technologies we are developing to address global cancer inequities, a challenging task given the limited resources available to adopt models that are currently in place in high income countries.

Dr. Ramanujam is the Robert W. Carr Professor of Engineering and Professor of Cancer Pharmacology and Global Health at Duke University and co-program leader of the Radiation Oncology and Imaging Program (ROIP) at the Duke Cancer Institute. She founded the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies (GWHT) in 2013 where she empowers trainees to create impactful solutions to improve the lives of women and girls globally. This center, since inception, has catalyzed new research activities and the development and commercialization of several technologies that advance prevention and treatment of cervical and breast cancer.

Dr. Ramanujam’s work has led to low-cost and efficient health care and home-based technology innovations that provide surveillance of cancer and its recurrence. To complement her translational efforts, Dr. Ramanujam’s work exploits the dynamic changes in tumor metabolism that allow cancers to go under the radar and recur in a stealth mode when conditions are favorable. She is also creating a liquid-based ablative therapy with dual roles - (1) to address the pressing issue of cancer control in environments where access to surgery is scarce, and (2) enhance tumor kill through a combination of necrosis and T cell infiltration occurring as a result of tumor antigen presentation following ablation.

Dr. Ramanujam has built several global initiatives. The most notable is a consortium to impact cervical cancer prevention in low resource settings. Her MacArthur Foundation 100&Change proposal, Women-Inspired Strategies for Health:  A Revolution against Cervical Cancer (WISH) was recognized as one of the Top 100 of the 755 proposals submitted to this $100M grant competition (Macarthur 100&Change). In addition to her cervical cancer prevention initiative, she has also created a global women’s education program that intersects design-thinking, STEM concepts, and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals to promote social justice awareness (IGNITE). She has launched an arts and storytelling initiative to raise awareness of sexual and reproductive health inequities (The (In) Visible Organ).

She has created two companies, Zenalux and Calla Health, to commercialize her technologies.

Faculty Host: Dr. Erin Buckley


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Joshua Stewart
  • Created:11/12/2021
  • Modified By:Joshua Stewart
  • Modified:11/17/2021


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