Dr. Ramanujam is the Robert W. Carr Professor of Engineering and Professor of Cancer Pharmacology and Global Health at Duke University. 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. The fundamental goal of her work is to create technologies that bring proven hospital-based solutions to point of care settings and, at the same time, pursue basic science research to understand and prevent cancer recurrence, specifically in breast cancer.
Dr. Ramanujam’s work has led to low-cost community and home-based technology innovations that provide widespread cancer surveillance globally. To complement her translational efforts, Dr. Ramanujam’s post-doctoral fellowship with Prof. Britton Chance inspired her to exploit 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. She has created two companies Zenalux and Calla Health to commercialize her breast and cervical imaging products.
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) has been recognized as one of the Top 100 of the 755 proposals submitted to this $100M grant competition and is now part of the Bold Solutions Network (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 (https://theinvisibleorgan.com/).
Dr. Ramanujam has more than 20 patents to-date and more than 150 publications for screening, diagnostic, and surgical applications. She has raised over $30M of funding to pursue these innovations through a variety of mechanisms including NIH R01s and R21s, NIH Bioengineering Partnerships, NCI Academic Industry Partnerships, NIH Small Business grants 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 numerous 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 ABC News, Wired Magazine and NPR.