Rice bioengineer Rebecca Richards-Kortum has been appointed special adviser to the provost on health-related research and educational initiatives. Provost Marie Lynn Miranda announced the appointment Feb. 23.
In this new role, Richards-Kortum will be responsible for engaging faculty in planning the strategy for collaborations between Rice and other members of the Texas Medical Center (TMC). She also will represent Rice in discussions with other TMC institutions to implement that strategy and will serve on the Baylor College of Medicine/Rice oversight council that was established by the interinstitutional agreement between the two schools.
Richards-Kortum is the Malcolm Gillis University Professor, professor of bioengineering, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering and of Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies. She also is a Rice Academy Faculty Fellow.
“As a pioneer in both bioengineering and global health, Rebecca has expertise that will be invaluable to our strategic decisions about joint research with scientists and physicians in the Texas Medical Center, as well as to our health-related educational programs,” Miranda said.
A member of the Rice faculty since 2005, Richards-Kortum has specialized in translating research in nanotechnology, molecular imaging and microfabrication to develop optical imaging systems that are inexpensive, portable and provide point-of-care diagnoses for diseases ranging from cancer to malaria. Her recent research achievements include development of software that could speed up the diagnosis of breast cancer with 90 percent accuracy and without the need for a specialist, and the finding that variation between blood drops drawn from a single finger prick warrant combining six to nine drops for consistent test results.
Richards-Kortum and the Department of Bioengineering’s Maria Oden co-founded the hands-on engineering education program Beyond Traditional Borders, which paved the way for Rice to establish a minor in global health technologies and encouraged students to develop low-cost health technologies at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.
In addition to receiving Rice’s highest academic title of university professor, Richards-Kortum has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors.
“I am very grateful that Rebecca has agreed to serve in this important role,” Miranda said. “I also want to thank Cindy Farach-Carson and Dan Carson for the strong leadership they provided as vice provost for translational bioscience and vice provost for strategic partnerships, respectively, in developing Rice-TMC collaborations.”
Both Farach-Carson and Carson will continue to hold faculty appointments in the Department of BioSciences, where they will teach and conduct research.