By Hamdy Inusah
Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Ph. D. is a widely renowned bioengineer hailing from Grand
Island Nebraska. After receiving her BS from the University of Nebraska and her MS and Ph. D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Richards-Kortum now serves as the Malcolm Gillis University Professor of Rice University, as well as serving as a professor in various subjects, such as Bioengineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition to this, she is the Director of the Rice 360° Institute of Global Health and the founder of Beyond Traditional Border, an organization that allows students to apply their knowledge of technology in an attempt to remedy real-world global health scenarios.
Work in Global Health Research
Richards-Kortum’s work in global health spans a wide variety of topics, but her work mainly focuses on developing low-cost, high performance technology for low resource settings around the world, especially for global health crises with high morbidity and mortality rates. Her work and research has led to the development of approximately 40 patents, along with having 315 research papers and 13 book chapters published as of today. Her work has also led to her receiving many awards, such as the Michael S. Feld Biophotonics Award and the
Pierre Galletti Award, along with appointments to several renowned scientific societies such as the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Society of Arts and Sciences.
Throughout her career, Richards-Kortum has collaborated with clinicians and researchers across the globe, working with groups such as the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Canada, and now our very own GWHT. The work done at both of our organizations are very similar in our focus on global health and technology development, and in fact led both of our respective organizations to be up for the MacArthur Foundation 100&Change competition. This competition invites groups to submit proposals for a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time. In 2017, Dr. Richards-Kortum group, Nest 360 was a top 4 finalist for the 100&Change competition and in 2020 our center’s WISH Revolution project was a top 100 finalist for this competition.
GWHT and Dr. Richards-Kortum
Dr. Richards-Kortum has served as an innovator in the global health community and a resource for our center leadership. Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam studied under Richards-Kortum while completing her doctoral degree at University of Texas Austin and reflects on her experience with Richards-Kortum saying,
“Texas attracts top talent, and I had the privilege to work with a really talented young faculty member and one of the few female role models in the department. She was a great mentor to her students, and a great role model to women interested in pursuing an academic career.”
-Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam