Another 2016 MAcArthur Genius- Rebecca Richards-Kortum developed portable, high-resolution microendoscope that enables real-time diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer in a single visit.
She is a bioengineer addressing global health disparities in low-resource settings by developing point-of-care medical technologies and a new approach to engineering education by drawing from nanotechnology, molecular imaging, and microfabrication techniques, Richards-Kortum has created numerous low-cost and highly practical medical tools.
Richards-Kortum co-founded Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB), an undergraduate curriculum focused on translating classroom concepts into solutions for global health problems. The curriculum includes coursework in engineering, sociology, psychology, and economics, while a capstone project challenges students to work in multidisciplinary teams to build a technology that responds to a global health need.
New medical technologies created by BTB students include an LED-based phototherapy light for treating jaundice in newborns that can be made for less than $100, and a bubble continuous positive airway pressure machine (bCPAP) for premature infants unable to breathe on their own. The bCPAP decreased mortality rates in a Malawi neonatal ward by 46 percent at a cost of nearly 38 times lower than the standard model. Committed to improving access to quality health care for all the world’s people, Richards-Kortum is not only developing novel solutions but also training and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists to address our shared global challenges.