NIMMI RAMANUJAM, PH.D.
Dr. Ramanujam is an innovator, educator and entrepreneur and her mission is to develop and leverage technology to have the most wide reaching impact in women’s health. She directs the center for Global Women’s Health Technologies, at Duke University where she is empowering trainees at Duke and beyond to be agents of change - providing them with the knowledge, confidence and critical thinking skills to create impactful solutions to improve the lives of women and girls globally. Dr. Ramanujam’s research focuses on women’s’ cancers and her goals are to design innovations that enable complex referral services often reserved for hospitals to be accessible at the community/primary care level for cancer prevention, and to develop tools that will make cancer treatment more effective and efficient.
One example of a technology she and her team has developed to achieve health care impact is the Pocket Colposcope. The Pocket colposcope has the potential to revolutionize cervical cancer screening in low resource communities by enhancing the effectiveness and scalability of the screening process, reducing loss to follow up and guiding effective treatment decisions. The Pocket colpsocope has been deployed in 8 countries in four continents and impacted several thousand women. Her team has also designed a speculum-free self-screening colposcope called the Callascope to make cervical cancer screening more accessible by bringing this tool of discovery into the hands and homes of individuals. The powerful reflections of individuals who have used the Callascope has now led to a public awareness campaign called the Calla campaign to empower women to explore their bodies through technology, story telling and art and comprises educational workshops for women, a multi-media art exhibition, and a documentary film.
Design is at the heart of the innovation that underlies the Pocket and Callascope and one where women are designing for women. However, training in design thinking is only accessible to a privileged few. Dr. Ramanujam and her team have created a unique model to make design thinking pervasive to women and girls in the least resourced parts of the world and in the process has created teachers, innovators and entrepreneurs beyond Duke. The program known as Ignite, has trained more than 50 university students to teach design thinking to more than 1000 students in low resource communities in Kenya, India, Guatemala and the U.S. The students in those communities then perpetuate the knowledge by maintaining that virtuous cycle within their own communities.
Through her research and social innovation programs Dr. Ramanujam has created an international community that is growing exponentially and across a number of different sectors including academia, industry, non-governmental organizations and the government. She has received recognition for her work through the TR100 Young Innovator Award from MIT, the Global Indus Technovator award from MIT, Era of Hope Scholar awards from the DOD, the Stasnell Family award from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke and the Emerging Leader in Global Health Award from the Consortium of Universities in Global Health. Most recently, Dr. Ramanujam was awarded the Social Impact Abie Award by AnitaB.org, the Biophotonics Technology Innovator Award by the International Society for Optics and Photonics, and the Women in Molecular Imaging Network (WIMIN) by the World Molecular Imaging Congress (WMIC). She is a fellow of several optical and biomedical engineering societies including OSA, SPIE AIMBE. She has also been elected to the National Academy of Inventors. She is co-editor of the Handbook of Biomedical Optics. She has presented the global impact of her work at the United Nations.
MARLEE KRIEGER, M.S.
Marlee holds a B.S in Biology and M.S in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Massachusetts. There she developed fluorescence reporter systems to monitor DNA damage in Escherichia coli. She is currently the Executive Director at the Center for Global Women's Health Technologies within the Biomedical Engineering Department at Duke. She is also a member of the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies where her research focuses on the development of the Pocket Colposcope for cervical cancer screening in resource poor settings. She also directs DukeEngage Orange County, an immersion program that aims to empower young girls by giving them tools to help navigate social, economic and gender barriers. In 2016, she became a team leader for Bass Connections Peru. In this project, a diverse team of faculty, staff and student map the various stakeholders involved with the implementation of the Pocket Colposcope in Peru.
Marlee Krieger began her appointment as the Executive Director of the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies in October, 2018. Since being named Executive Director, Marlee has built and leads a diverse set of multidisciplinary educational programs, spearheads the Center’s international collaborations which focus on the clinical implementation of technologies developed at Duke, and has become widely successful in securing financial support for Center related research and education. Her research efforts focus on generating a deeper understanding of the scaling and adoption of novel healthcare innovations as well as the potential barriers to ultimate market acceptance.
Marlee directs the Calla Fellows Program, a 12-month rigorous internship for exceptional post-baccalaureates interested in women’s health and transformative technologies. 2019 marks the fourth year of this highly successful and competitive program. She also directs DukeEngage Orange County, an learning-based immersion program that aims to empower young girls by giving them tools to help navigate social, economic and gender barriers. In 2016, she began a Bass Connections program in Lima, Peru. In this project, a diverse team of faculty, staff and student map the various stakeholders involved with the implementation of the Pocket Colposcope in Lima. Marlee also serves as the Director of DukeEngage Orange County, which reflects the partnership with two non-profit organizations, Girls Inc. and Global Girls Glow. Each year, Marlee leads a team of eight Duke students to southern California to work with these community partners on empowering middle- and high-school aged girls through STEM education and artistic expression. Additionally, for the last four years, she has directed a Bass Connections program called, “Analysis of Bringing Elements of Referral Services to Community Care.” The goal of the program is to work with a team of healthcare providers, policy makers, lawyers and most importantly, students, to demonstrate that novel technologies developed at Duke using a process called human centered design can be economically viable in the community health setting. Like her involvement with DukeEngage and Bass Connections, many of the Center’s clinical, educational, and community outreach initiatives can be directly attributed to the leadership and organization that she has brought to the center.
Marlee is a founding member of the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies, where she has served since 2007. She works closely with all members of the GWHT lab, including administrators, post-doctoral researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and post-baccalaureate fellows to foster their professional development in conjunction with the continued growth of the Center. Additionally, she works with many members of the Pratt community as well as faculty, staff and students in numerous other departments across campus including, DGHI, Surgery, Ob/Gyn, Pathology and FUQUA and the Margolis Center for Health Policy. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Massachusetts, where she also received a M.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology.