Nimmi Ramanujam

Overview:

Dr. Ramanujam is an innovator, educator and entrepreneur. Her mission is to develop technology that will have a wide reaching impact on women's health. She directs the center for Global Women’s Health Technologies at Duke where she empowers trainees at Duke and beyond to create impactful solutions to improve the lives of women and girls globally. 


Dr. Ramanujam has spent the last two decades developing precision diagnostics and most recently precision therapeutics for breast and cervical cancer, with a focus on addressing health disparities. She has more than 20 patents to-date and over 150 publications for screening, diagnostic, and surgical applications. She has raised over $30M of funding to pursue these innovations through a variety of funding mechanisms including NIH R01s and R21s, NIH Bioengineering Partnerships, NCI Academic Industry Partnerships, NIH Small Business grants and USAID funding. As the founding director of the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies at Duke, she has developed a consortium of over 50+ partners including international academic institutions and hospitals, non-governmental organizations, ministries of health, and commercial partners; this consortium is working to ensure that the technologies developed at the center are adopted by cancer control programs in geographically and economically diverse healthcare settings. 


Dr. Ramanujam’s research on women’s cancers has centered on translational and laboratory research of relevance to breast and cervical cancer. While her guiding principles are similar across breast and cervical cancer, the technical challenges needed to tackle these cancers are inherently different. In the case of cervical cancer prevention, her focus is to develop strategies that reduce attrition to treatment including early screening and diagnostics. In the breast cancer care cascade, clinical care has principally pivoted towards a focus on how to inform the effectiveness of cancer therapy whether it is surgery or systemic therapy and that is where she has focused her efforts via molecular and metabolic imaging.  A third area in her research program focuses on low cost ablative strategies for local control of cancer in resource limited settings. She has also created two companies Zenalux and Calla Health to commercialize her breast and cervical imaging products, respectively. Additionally, she has created three social innovations programs: WISH to impact cervical cancer prevention in low resource settings, IGNITE to scale social innovation education to students globally and the Calla Campaign to bridge inequities in sexual and reproductive health inequities through story-telling and art


Dr. Ramanujam has received institutional awards for her work including the Global Indus Technovator and TR100 Young Innovator awards (MIT) and the Stansell Family award (Pratt School of Engineering, Duke). Additionally, she has been recognized by both private and government organizations including 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), a Fulbright Global Scholar Award and the The WomC Global Impact Award from Duke University Women’s Center. She is a fellow of several optical and biomedical engineering societies including OSA, SPIE, and AIMBE. Most recently, she was awarded the Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award and was appointed as the IEEE Distinguished Lecturer and her MacArthur Foundation 100&Change proposal, Women-Inspired Strategies for Health (WISH): A Revolution against Cervical Cancer, has been named to the Top 100 of the 755 proposals submitted to this $100M grant competition. She has demonstrated the global impact of her work through presentations at the United Nations and TEDx events.

Positions:

Robert W. Carr, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering
Pratt School of Engineering

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering
Pratt School of Engineering

Research Professor of Global Health

Duke Global Health Institute
Institutes and Provost's Academic Units

Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
School of Medicine

Affiliate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Duke Science & Society
Institutes and Provost's Academic Units

Core Faculty in Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutes and Provost's Academic Units

Core Faculty Member, Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy

Duke - Margolis Center For Health Policy
Institutes and Provost's Academic Units

Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Duke Cancer Institute
School of Medicine

Education:

B.S. 1989

University of Texas at Austin

M.S. 1992

University of Texas at Austin

Ph.D. 1995

University of Texas at Austin

Grants:

A Portable low-cost, Point of Investigation CapCell Scope to Image and Quantify the Major Axes of Metabolism and the Associated Vasculature in In vitro and In vivo Biological Models

Administered By
Biomedical Engineering
Awarded By
National Institutes of Health
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

A Novel Optical Spectral Imaging System for Rapid Imaging of Breast Tumor Margins

Administered By
Biomedical Engineering
Awarded By
National Institutes of Health
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Novel see and treat strategies for cervical cancer prevention in low-resource settings

Administered By
Biomedical Engineering
Awarded By
National Institutes of Health
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Culturally appropriate screening and diagnosis of cervical cancer in East Africa

Administered By
Biomedical Engineering
Awarded By
National Institutes of Health
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

A Viable Solution for a See and Treat Paradigm for Cervical Pre-cancer in Africa

Administered By
Biomedical Engineering
Awarded By
National Institutes of Health
Role
Principal Investigator
Start Date
End Date

Publications:

WE-FG-201-01: Patient Centric Technologies for Diagnosis of Breast and Cervical Cancer.

Many low- and middle-income countries lack the resources and services to manage cancer, from screening and diagnosis to radiation therapy planning, treatment and quality assurance. The challenges in upgrading or introducing the needed services are enormous, and include severe shortages in equipment and trained staff. In this symposium, we will describe examples of technology and scientific research that have the potential to impact all these areas. These include: (1) the development of high-quality/low-cost colposcopes for cervical cancer screening, (2) the application of automated radiotherapy treatment planning to reduce staffing shortages, (3) the development of a novel radiotherapy treatment unit, and (4) utilizing a cloud-based infrastructure to facilitate collaboration and QA.1. Understand some of the issues in cancer care in low- resource environments, including shortages in staff and equipment, and inadequate physical infrastructure for advanced radiotherapy. 2. Understand the challenges in developing and deploying diagnostic and treatment devices and services for low-resource environments. 3. Understand some of the emerging technological solutions for cancer management in LMICs. NCI; L. Court, NIH, Varian, Elekta; I. Feain, Ilana Feain is founder and CTO of Nano-X Pty Ltd.
Authors
MLA Citation
Ramanujam, N. “WE-FG-201-01: Patient Centric Technologies for Diagnosis of Breast and Cervical Cancer.Medical Physics, vol. 43, no. 6, June 2016, p. 3822. Epmc, doi:10.1118/1.4957893.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1168317
PMID
28047729
Source
epmc
Published In
Medical Physics
Volume
43
Published Date
Start Page
3822
DOI
10.1118/1.4957893

Handbook of biomedical optics

© 2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Biomedical optics holds tremendous promise to deliver effective, safe, non- or minimally invasive diagnostics and targeted, customizable therapeutics. Handbook of Biomedical Optics provides an in-depth treatment of the field, including coverage of applications for biomedical research, diagnosis, and therapy. It introduces the theory and fundamentals of each subject, ensuring accessibility to a wide multidisciplinary readership. It also offers a view of the state of the art and discusses advantages and disadvantages of various techniques. Organized into six sections, this handbook: Contains introductory material on optics and the optical properties of tissue. Describes the various forms of spectroscopy and its applications in medicine and biology, including methods that exploit intrinsic absorption and scattering contrast; dynamic contrast; and fluorescence and Raman contrast mechanisms. Provides extensive coverage of tomography from the microscopic (optical coherence tomography) to the macroscopic (diffuse optical tomography) to photoacoustic tomography. Discusses cutting-edge translations to biomedical applications in both basic sciences and clinical studies. Details molecular imaging and molecular probe development. Highlights the use of light in disease and injury treatment. The breadth and depth of multidisciplinary knowledge in biomedical optics has been expanding continuously and exponentially, thus underscoring the lack of a single source to serve as a reference and teaching tool for scientists in related fields. Handbook of Biomedical Optics addresses this need, offering the most complete up-to-date overview of the field for researchers and students alike.
Authors
Boas, DA; Pitris, C; Ramanujam, N
MLA Citation
Boas, D. A., et al. Handbook of biomedical optics. 2016, pp. 1–831.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1347996
Source
scopus
Published Date
Start Page
1
End Page
831

Portable Pocket colposcopy performs comparably to standard-of-care clinical colposcopy using acetic acid and Lugol's iodine as contrast mediators: an investigational study in Peru.

OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to develop a tele-colposcopy platform for primary-care clinics to improve screening sensitivity and access. Specifically, we developed a low-cost, portable Pocket colposcope and evaluated its performance in a tertiary healthcare centre in Peru. DESIGN AND SETTING: Images of the cervix were captured with a standard-of-care and Pocket colposcope at la Liga Contra el Cáncer in Lima, Peru. POPULATION: Two hundred Peruvian women with abnormal cytology and/or human papillomavirus positivity were enrolled. METHODS: Images were collected using acetic acid and Lugol's iodine as contrast agents. Biopsies were taken as per standard-of-care procedures. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: After passing quality review, images from 129 women were sent to four physicians who provided a diagnosis for each image. RESULTS: Physician interpretation of images from the two colposcopes agreed 83.1% of the time. The average sensitivity and specificity of physician interpretation compared with pathology was similar for the Pocket (sensitivity = 71.2%, specificity = 57.5%) and standard-of-care (sensitivity = 79.8%, specificity = 56.6%) colposcopes. When compared with a previous study where only acetic acid was applied to the cervix, results indicated that adding Lugol's iodine as a secondary contrast agent improved the percent agreement between colposcopes for all pathological categories by up to 8.9% and the sensitivity and specificity of physician interpretation compared with pathology by over 6.0 and 9.0%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The Pocket colposcope performance was similar to that of a standard-of-care colposcope when used to identify precancerous and cancerous lesions using acetic acid and Lugol's iodine during colposcopy examinations in Peru. TWEETABLE ABSTRACT: The Pocket colposcope performance was similar to that of a standard-of-care colposcope when identifying cervical lesions.
Authors
Mueller, JL; Lam, CT; Dahl, D; Asiedu, MN; Krieger, MS; Bellido-Fuentes, Y; Kellish, M; Peters, J; Erkanli, A; Ortiz, EJ; Muasher, LC; Taylor, PT; Schmitt, JW; Venegas, G; Ramanujam, N
MLA Citation
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1325294
PMID
29893472
Source
pubmed
Published In
Bjog
Volume
125
Published Date
Start Page
1321
End Page
1329
DOI
10.1111/1471-0528.15326

Data for Design and Preliminary Analysis of a Vaginal Inserter for Speculum-Free Cervical Cancer Screening

Authors
Asiedu, MN
MLA Citation
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1379300
Source
crossref
Published Date
DOI
10.7924/g8x34vdz

Detection of cervical precancer using optical spectroscopy (Extended Abstract)

Authors
Ramanujam, N; Follen-Mitchell, M; Mahadevan-Jansen, A; Pitris, C; Agrawal, A; Thomsen, SL; Staerkel, G; Wright, Jr., TC; Richards-Kortum, RR
MLA Citation
Ramanujam, Nirmala, et al. “Detection of cervical precancer using optical spectroscopy (Extended Abstract).” Optical Biopsies and Microscopic Techniques, SPIE, 1996. Crossref, doi:10.1117/12.260814.
URI
https://scholars.duke.edu/individual/pub1427571
Source
crossref
Published In
Optical Biopsies and Microscopic Techniques
Published Date
DOI
10.1117/12.260814