Rebecca Richards-Kortum to speak on preventing newborn deaths in Africa

Rice University’s Rebecca Richards-Kortum will deliver the 2018 University-Wide Mrs. Hepsa Ely Silliman Memorial Lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 27.
Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the Malcolm Gillis University Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University, will deliver the 2018 University-Wide Mrs. Hepsa Ely Silliman Memorial Lecture.

Her lecture, “Essential Solutions and Technologies to Eliminate Preventable Newborn Death in Africa,” will take place at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27 in the auditorium of the Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel St. It is free and open to the university community and is hosted by the Department of Biomedical Engineering. 

Richards-Kortum’s work focuses on the development of low-cost, high-performance technologies for remote and low-resource settings. She strives to provide vulnerable populations with access to life-saving health care technologies that address diseases and conditions that cause high morbidity and mortality, including cervical and oral cancer, sickle cell disease and malaria, and premature birth. She is currently leading an international team of collaborators developing and implementing “Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies,” or NEST 360°, which is an integrated group of 17 life-saving neonatal technologies that could prevent half of the newborn deaths in Africa. The MacArthur Foundation selected the project last year as a finalist for its $100 million 100&Change grant competition, an initiative designed to end preventable newborn deaths in Africa within 10 years. Fortune Magazine named her on its list of the World's 50 Greatest Leaders.

Jay Humphrey, Yale’s John C. Malone Professor and chair of biomedical engineering, said Richards-Kortum’s dedication to improving health care globally makes her message timely for the Silliman Lecture series. “We’re honored that Professor Richards-Kortum will speak here at Yale on translational research that is so important,” Humphrey said. “Her work, guided by the belief that all of the world's people deserve access to health innovation, is an inspiration.”

Among other honors, Richards-Kortum is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was presented with the NSF Presidential Young Investigator and Presidential Faculty Fellow awards, named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, and received a MacArthur Foundation Award. Her work has led to 40 patents; she also is author of the book “Biomedical Engineering for Global Health,” as well as over 315 archival journal papers and 13 book chapters.

Established in 1901, the Silliman Memorial Lectures series is the oldest at Yale. It was established by a bequest from Augustus Ely Silliman of Brooklyn, N.Y., in honor of his mother, Hepsa Ely Silliman.


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