Nimmi Ramanujam, Robert W. Carr, Jr., Professor of Biomedical Engineering  


Nimmi Ramanujam

Since coming to Duke University in 2005, Prof. Ramanujam has established the Tissue Optical Spectroscopy laboratory (ToPs Lab_. Prof. Ramanujam's group is innovating on optical strategies to peer into the biological landscape of thick tissues. Technologies being developed in her lab leverage principles of optical spectroscopy, spectral imaging, 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. Prof. Ramanujam is leading a multi-disciplinary effort to translate these technologies to clinical applications in the breast, cervix and head and neck. In addition to her academic efforts, Prof. Ramanujam has spun out a company, Zenalux, to commercialize several of the technologies developed in her lab.

In October of 2013, Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam founded the Global Women’s Health Technologies Center. The Global Women’s Health Technologies Center reflects a partnership between the Pratt School of Engineering and the Duke Global Health Institute. The center’s mission is to increase research, training and education in women’s diseases, with a focus on breast cancer, cervical cancer, and maternal-fetal health; and to encourage and increase retention of women and underrepresented minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines locally and globally.

Prof. Ramanujam has received several awards for her work in cancer research and technology development for women's health. She received the TR100 Young Innovator Award from MIT in 2003, a $2.5M DOD Era of Hope Scholar award in 2004, the Global Indus Technovator award from MIT in 2005 and a $3M Era of Hope Research Scholar award in 2009 and an NIH BRP grant in 2011. In 2011, she received the Stansell Family Distinguished Research Award from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. Dr. Ramanujam is a fellow of OSA, SPIE and AIMBE.

She is member of the NIH BMIT-A study section and chair of the DOD’s breast cancer research program (BCRP) integration panel (IP) that sets the vision of the BCRP program and plans the dissemination of over $100 M of funds for breast cancer research annually. She is co-editor of the Handbook of Biomedical Optics (publisher Taylor and Francis).

Dr. Ramanujam earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin in 1995 and then trained as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania from 1996-2000. Prior to her tenure at Duke, she was an assistant professor in the Dept. Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison from 2000-2005.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  367 Gross Hall
Office Phone:  (919) 660-5307
Email Address:   send me a message
Web Pages: http://nimmi.bme.duke.edu/
http://gwht.pratt.duke.edu/

Education:

PhD, University of Texas, Austin, 1995
Research Interests:

Innovating 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.

Specialties:

Medical Imaging
Photonics
Cancer diagnostics and therapy
Medical Instrumentation
Medical Diagnostics
Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

Chair, CDMRP Integration Panel for the BCRP program, 2014
Chair Elect, CDMRP Integration Panel for the BCRP program, 2013
Fellow, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, 2013
Member, NIH BMIT-A Study section, July, 2012- 2016
Conference organizing committee member, OSA BIOMED, 2012
Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), 2012
Member, BME External Advisory Board, University of Texas, Austin, 2012
AIMBE Fellow, December, 2011
Advisory Board Member, Dept. Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas, Austin, 2011 - 2014
Stansell Distinguished Research Award, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University, 2011
Fellow, Optical Society of America, 2009
Member, DOD Breast Cancer Research Program Integration Panel, 2009-present
Invited Speaker, Gordon Conference on Lasers in Medicine and Biology, December, 2008
Plenary Speaker, DOE Era of Hope Breast Cancer Conference, December, 2008
Global Indus Technovators Awards, Indian Business Club at MIT, 2005
Technology achievement award, MIT Alumni Association of Wisconsin, 2005
Vilas Associate award, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2005
Era of Hope Scholar Award, DOD Breast Cancer Research Program, 2004
Invited speaker, Gordon Conference on Lasers in Medicine and Biology, 2004
TR100 Young Innovator Award, Selected as one of the top 100 young innovators in technology in the world by MIT's Technology Review Magazine, 2003
Whitaker travel award to participate in the ASEE Conference, 2002
Fellow, American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery, December, 2001
Whitaker Foundation investigator, 2001
Invited participant in NSF’s “Engineering Education Scholars Workshop”, 1996
National Research Service Award, National Institutes of Health, 1996
One of three finalists in the American Association for Medical Instrumentation Young Investigator Competition, 1996
Scholarship, Association for Women in Science Educational Foundation, November, 1995
Award for Best Scientific Paper, American Association of Cancer Research, 1995
Scholarship, American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, 1995
Scholarship, International Society for Optical Engineering, November, 1994
Professional Development Award, University of Texas, Austin, 1994 - 1995
Award for Best Scientific Paper, American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, 1994-95
Selected Patents

Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Chang VTC, Cartwright PS, Bean SM, Palmer GM, Bentley RC, Ramanujam N., Quantitative physiology of the precancerous cervix in vivo via optical spectroscopy, Neoplasia, vol. 11 no. 4 (2009), pp. 325-332 .
  2. J. Q. Brown and L. G. Wilke and J. Geradts and S. A. Kennedy and G. M. Palmer and N. Ramanujam, Quantitative Optical Spectroscopy: A Robust Tool for Direct Measurement of Breast Cancer Vascular Oxygenation and Total Hemoglobin Content In vivo, Cancer Research, vol. 69 no. 7 (April, 2009), pp. 2919 -- 2926  [abs].
  3. K. Vishwanath and D. Klein and K. Chang and T. Schroeder and M. W. Dewhirst and N. Ramanujam, Quantitative optical spectroscopy can identify long-term local tumor control in irradiated murine head and neck xenografts, Journal Of Biomedical Optics, vol. 14 no. 5 (September, 2009)  [abs].
  4. L. G. Wilke and J. Q. Brown and T. M. Bydlon and S. A. Kennedy and L. M. Richards and M. K. Junker and J. Gallagher and W. T. Barry and J. Geradts and N. Ramanujam, Rapid noninvasive optical imaging of tissue composition in breast tumor margins, American Journal Of Surgery, vol. 198 no. 4 (October, 2009), pp. 566 -- 574  [abs].
  5. J.H. Ostrander, C.M. McMahon, S. Lem, S.R. Millon, V.L. Seewaldt, N. Ramanujam, The Optical Redox Ratio Differentiates Breast Cancer Cell Lines Based on Receptor Status, Cancer Research, vol. 70 no. 11 (2010), pp. 4759-4766 .
  6. Millon SR, Ostrander JH, Brown JQ, Rajeha AM, Seewaldt VL, Ramanujam N, Uptake of 2-NBDG as a method to monitor therapy response in breast cancer cell lines, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, vol. 126 no. 1 (2011), pp. 55-62 .
Selected Grant Support

  • Smart Optical Sensor for Detection of Cervical Cancer In the Developing World, National Institutes of Health, 1R21CA162747-01.      
  • A Novel Optical Spectral Imaging System for Rapid Imaging of Breast Tumor Margins, National Institutes of Health, 1R01-EB011574-01.      
  • Harnessing the power of light to see and treat breast cancer, United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, W81XWH-09-1-0410.      
  • Biosensor Biocompatibility, National Institutes of Health, 2R01-DK-54932.      
  • Fast Spectral Imaging Device for Tumor Margin Mapping, National Institutes of Health, 2R42CA128160-02.      
  • Can Optical Spectroscopy Predict Early Treatment Response in Solid Tumors, National Cancer Institute, 5K99CA140783-02.      
  • A smart fiber optic sensor for in vivo tissue optical spectroscopy, National Institutes of Health, 1R03EB012210-01.      
  • A Fluorescence Histology System for In Vivo Breast Tumor Margin Assessment, National Institutes of Health, 1R21CA159936-01.      
  • Use of Diffuse Reflectance Spectroscopy to Assess Tumor Biomarkers that predict outcomes in Head and Neck Cancer Therapy, Duke University.      
  • Is high glucose uptake at target for early detection and prevention of triple-negative breast cancer?, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.