Robert W. Carr, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering
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.
Calla Health, a GWHT venture, is centered on sustainably improving women's access to cancer prevention and creating innovations that increase wide scale surveillance of cervical pre-cancers and cancers. Zenalux Biomedical, in collaboration with Duke University, is developing a suite of optical microscopy and spectroscopy tools for preclinical and clinical applications in cancer research. Zenalux’ newest product offering is the Zenascope™ ZF1, a combined portable platform for optical imaging and spectroscopy to characterize the major axes of metabolism along with key vascular features.
Dr. Ramanujam has more than 20 patents to-date and more than 150 publications for screening, diagnostic, and surgical applications. She has received funding from a agencies including NIH R01s and R21s, NIH Bioengineering Partnerships, NCI Academic Industry Partnerships, NIH Small Business grants, DOD, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, DIHI: Innovation Jam, Prevent Cancer and USAID funding. As the director of the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies, she has developed a network of 50+ partners including international academic institutions and hospitals, non-governmental organizations, ministries of health, and commercial partners; this consortium works to ensure the technologies developed at the center are adopted by cancer control programs in geographically and economically diverse healthcare settings.
Dr. Ramanujam has received a number of awards including the MIT TR100 Young Innovator award (MIT), the Global Indus Technovator award (MIT), the Stansell Family award (Duke), multiple Era of Hope Scholar awards (DoD), the Emerging Leader in Global Health Award (CUGH), the Social Impact Abie Award (AnitaB.org), the Biophotonics Technology Innovator Award (SPIE), the Women in Molecular Imaging Leadership Award (WMIC), the Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award (OSA) and the Wom C Global Impact Award (Duke). She is a fellow of several optical and biomedical engineering societies including OSA, SPIE, and AIMBE. She is a Fulbright scholar and the 2020 IEEE Distinguished Lecturer. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Inventors. She has demonstrated her work’s global impact through presentations at the United Nations and TEDx events, and a number of national and international plenary talks. Her work has been featured in a number of venues including Medical Daily, Wired Magazine, NPR and several podcasts.
Appointments and Affiliations
- Robert W. Carr, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering
- Professor of Biomedical Engineering
- Director of Center for Global Women's Health Technologies
- Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
- Affiliate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society
- Core Faculty Member, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
- Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
- Office Location: 367 Gross Hall, 140 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708
- Office Phone: (919) 660-5307
- Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin, 1995
- M.S. University of Texas, Austin, 1992
- B.S. University of Texas, Austin, 1989
Research InterestsInnovating on optical strategies to peer into the biological landscape of thick tissues. Technologies being developed in her lab leverage principles of optical spectroscopy, optical sectioning microscopy, and molecular imaging. Her research group is developing and applying these optically based tools for three problems in cancer: cancer screening in resource-limited settings, intra-operative margin assessment to detect residual disease during cancer surgery, and visualizing tumor hypoxia and metabolism in the context of cancer therapy and drug discovery. Prof. Ramanujam is leading a multi-disciplinary effort to translate these technologies to clinical applications in the breast, and cervix.
Awards, Honors, and Distinctions
- Women In Molecular Imaging Network (WIMIN) Leadership Committee. WIMIN. 2020
- Associate Editor. Inaugural Editorial Board of IEEE OJEMB. 2020
- The WomC Global Impact Award. Duke University Women’s Center. 2020
- Michael S. Feld Biophotonics . OSA. 2020
- Associate Editor. Scientific Reports. 2019
- Program co-leader for Radiation Oncology and Imaging Program. Duke Cancer Institute. 2019
- Social Impact Abie Award. AnitaB.org . 2019
- Women in Molecular Imaging Network Outstanding Leadership in Molecular Imaging Award. World Molecular Imaging Society. 2019
- Biophotonics Technology Innovator Award. International Society for Optics and Photonics. 2019
- CUGH Emerging Leader in Global Health Innovation Faculty Award. Consortium of Universities for Global Health. 2018
- Fellow. National Academy of Inventors . 2017
- Fellow (NAI). National Academy of Inventors. 2017
- Fellow. International Society for Optics and Photonics. 2013
- Fellow. American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. 2012
- Fellow. Optical Society of America. 2010
- BME 230L: Global Women's Health Technologies
- BME 290L: Intermediate Topics with Lab (GE)
- BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
- EGR 393: Research Projects in Engineering
- GLHLTH 230L: Global Women's Health Technologies
- GLHLTH 391: Independent Study in Global Health
- ISS 397: Bass Connections Information, Society & Culture Research Team
- ISS 398: Bass Connections Information, Society & Culture Research Team
- ISS 795: Bass Connections Information, Society & Culture Research Team
- ISS 796: Bass Connections Information, Society & Culture Research Team
- PHARM 493: Research Independent Study
- PHARM 494: Research Independent Study
In the News
- Duke Faculty Reexamine Their Roles as Scholars and Mentors in an Uncertain Time (May 5, 2020)
- Advancing Health Equity: Women’s Health Technologies (May 1, 2020 | Duke Mobile App Gateway)
- The Human Dimension (Apr 30, 2020 | Diversity In Action Magazine)
- Necessity Is the Mother of Invention (Apr 10, 2020 | Thrive Global)
- Research Integrity Interviews Series: “If you treat people with integrity, you will treat science with integrity” (Feb 25, 2020)
- UICC and WISH Project in the top 100 proposals selected by the MacArthur Foundation (Feb 24, 2020)
- A Plan to Close the Cervical Cancer Inequity Gap Scores in Top 100 in MacArthur Competition (Feb 21, 2020 | Pratt School of Engineering)
- Women's Health: It's Personal for Nimmi Ramanujam (Jan 28, 2020 | School of Medicine)
- USAID Announces $15.5 Million in Thirteen New Grants to Programs under the Development Innovation (Dec 1, 2019)
- Prevent Cancer Foundation® awards $300,000 in global grants (Dec 1, 2019)
- How Tech Can Lead to Social Innovation: An Interview With Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam (Sep 23, 2019)
- The Gynecological Exam is Finally Getting a Makeover (Sep 16, 2019 | Medium)
- Meet Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam, Social Impact Abie Award Winner (Aug 27, 2019 | Anita B.org)
- Announcing the 2019 Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge Winners. (May 20, 2019 | Cisco)
- Ramanujam Receives Fulbright Global Scholar Award (Apr 22, 2019 | Pratt School of Engineering)
- A Breakthrough in Cervical Cancer Treatment Inspires a Ruby Art Exhibit (Feb 27, 2019 | Duke Arts)
- Safe, Convenient, Affordable: How a Pocket Device Is Changing Women's Health (Feb 5, 2019 | Duke Global)
- The Road to Biomedical Engineering Went Through Brahms (Oct 9, 2018 | Duke Arts)
- Three Engineers Named to National Academy of Inventors (Dec 13, 2017)
- New Tech Promises Easier Cervical Cancer Screening (May 31, 2017 | Pratt School of Engineering)
- Duke Team's Portable Screening Device Takes Aim at Preventable Cervical Cancer Deaths (Feb 15, 2017 | Duke Global Health Institute)
- Researchers Aim to Make Cervical Cancer Screening Accessible to All (Dec 19, 2016)
- Showing Washington the Future of Global Women’s Health (Nov 22, 2016 | Pratt School of Engineering)
- New Collaborative Seed Grant Program Gives Eight Awards (Mar 16, 2016)
- Ramanujam Awarded Two Grants to Help Screen for Cervical Cancer in Africa (Aug 25, 2015 | Pratt School of Engineering)
- Duke Announces 2015 Distinguished Professors (May 1, 2015)
- DukeEngage Adds California-Based Programs Targeting Homeless and At-Risk Youth (Oct 2, 2014)
- Ramanujam Named Inaugural Recipient of Carr Professorship (Sep 24, 2014 | Pratt School of Engineering)
- Lab of Entrepreneurial Engineers (Sep 19, 2014)
- Global Research, Domestic Benefits (Jan 13, 2014)
- Duke Launches Global Womens Health Technologies Center (Oct 23, 2013)
- Ramanujam Promoted to SPIE Fellow (Jun 7, 2013)
- Natarajan, J; Krieger, M; Ramanujam, N; Vashist, S; Bhatla, N, Feasibility and Outcome of Training Field Workers to Use the Transvaginal Colposcope for Point of Care Diagnosis and Management of Precancerous Cervical Lesions, Indian Journal of Gynecologic Oncology, vol 21 no. 1 (2023) [10.1007/s40944-022-00681-6] [abs].
- Natarajan, J; Mathur, S; Vishnubhatla, S; Kumar, S; Vashist, S; Ramanujam, N; Singhal, S; Meena, J; Tanwar, P; Bhatla, N, Can portable Colposcopes Replace Standard-of-care Colposcopes? A Crossover Trial of Two Portable Colposcopes with a Standard-of-Care Video Colposcope., Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention : Apjcp, vol 23 no. 12 (2022), pp. 4013-4021 [10.31557/apjcp.2022.23.12.4013] [abs].
- Coole, JB; Brenes, D; Possati-Resende, JC; Antoniazzi, M; Fonseca, BDO; Maker, Y; Kortum, A; Vohra, IS; Schwarz, RA; Carns, J; Borba Souza, KC; Vidigal Santana, IV; Kreitchmann, R; Salcedo, MP; Ramanujam, N; Schmeler, KM; Richards-Kortum, R, Development of a multimodal mobile colposcope for real-time cervical cancer detection., Biomedical Optics Express, vol 13 no. 10 (2022), pp. 5116-5130 [10.1364/boe.463253] [abs].
- Ramanujam, N; Madonna, M, Editorial overview: Biomedical engineering and women's health: Breaking new ground in gender- and sex-specific research, Current Opinion in Biomedical Engineering, vol 22 (2022) [10.1016/j.cobme.2022.100392] [abs].
- Deutsch, RJ; D'Agostino, VW; Sunassee, ED; Kwan, M; Madonna, MC; Palmer, G; Crouch, BT; Ramanujam, N, A Spectroscopic Technique to Simultaneously Characterize Fatty Acid Uptake, Mitochondrial Activity, Vascularity, and Oxygen Saturation for Longitudinal Studies In Vivo., Metabolites, vol 12 no. 5 (2022) [10.3390/metabo12050369] [abs].