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Celebrating Women in Innovation

Duke is an innovative place to be right now!  And we want to highlight just a few of the women here making significant contributions to the world of science and innovation.

From information security for universities to thymus transplants in infants, below are 31 women who are innovative, collaborative, forward-thinking, and strong leaders on the cutting edge of technology and therapeutics.

Amanda Randles

Amanda Randles, a Duke Engineering professor, developed HARVEY, a flood dynamics simulation of blood flowing through an individual patient’s arterial system–helping doctors to provide personalized diagnoses and treatments.


Blanche Capel is a Duke University Cell Biology professor working on a novel method for curing male infertility.

Bora Chang

Bora Chang is the founder and CEO of Duke University School of Medicine start-up kelahealth, a software clinical decision support platform that improves surgical care.  She oversaw early product development and led the commercialization process.

Cagla Eroglu

Cagla Eroglu has developed a novel method for the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Cynthia Toth

Cynthia Toth, a Duke Engineering and ophthalmology professor, is the inventor on over a dozen US patents–many of which are licensed. She worked closely with Bioptigen, a medical device company later acquired by Leica Microsystems.

Dawn Bowles

Dawn Bowles, a Duke University surgery professor, has developed a unique way of using gene therapy methods to treat patients with heart disease and heart failure.

Geri Dawson

Geri Dawson, a noted expert on autism, has identified methods for the early detection and treatment of autism and brain development.

Jennifer Freedman

Jennifer Freedman is working on ways to identify aggressive prostate tumors, which disproportionately impact African American males.

Jennifer West

Jennifer West’s research focuses on the development of novel biomaterials and tissue engineering to address a wide array of biological problems, from glaucoma to cancer.

Joanne Kurtzberg

Joanne Kurtzberg, an internationally renowned professor of pediatrics at Duke University, is an inventor on many patents for her research in pediatric hematology, oncology, bone marrow transplants, and cord blood.

Kathy Cooney

Kathleen Cooney, recently named Chair of Duke University’s Dept of Medicine, is internationally known for her investigations of the genetic epidemiology of prostate cancer.

Kim Blackwell

Kim Blackwell co-founded Cereius, a Duke University start-up developing solutions for the treatment of solid tumor brain metastasis through targeted radiotherapy–selecting only cancer cells.

Lori Orlando

Lori Orlando is a professor at Duke University’s Dept of Medicine who has co-developed a software platform to help provide patients with evidence-based preventive care.

Louise Markert

Dr. Markert has developed a novel method for thymus transplantation in infants with the fatal genetic disorder Complete DiGeorge Syndrome. Her therapy has saved dozens of babies’ lives.

Martha Adams

Martha Adams created CustomID, a decision support tool to manage antimicrobial use in hospitals and clinical practices. From this, she founded the Duke University start-up CCDS.

Marybeth Tetlow

Marybeth Tetlow, a clinical nurse on the Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit, invented Line Snugglers–waterproof sleeves and adjustable vests to protect IV lines in infants and children.

Molly Walsh

Molly Walsh is the co-founder of Retroject, a Duke University start-up developing a novel approach to glaucoma drug delivery.

Nan Jokerst

Nan Jokerst is a Duke Engineering professor who has developed ways of integrating optoelectronics with semiconductor substrates to create portable, environmental, and medical sensors.

Nicole Calakos

Nicole Calakos is an MD and professor working on a novel treatment for dystonia, a neuromuscular disorder causing muscles to contract involuntarily resulting in twisting, repetitive movements.

Nimmi Ramanujam

Nimmi Ramanujam, a Duke Engineering professor, invented the Pocket Colposcope and the Callascope, portable cervical cancer screening solutions designed to expand access to care in resource-limited communities worldwide.

Ornit Chiba-Falek

Ornit Chiba-Falek is developing unique therapies that alter the regulation of a gene to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Priya Kishnani is a pediatrician developing solutions for rare diseases such as Pompe disease and hypophosphatasia. Her technology has been licensed to several companies and is currently helping children today.

Priya Kishnani is a pediatrician developing solutions for rare diseases such as Pompe disease and hypophosphatasia. Her technology has been licensed to several companies and is currently helping children today.

Robin Bachelder

Robin Bachelder, a professor in Duke University’s Pathology and Surgery Departments, has discovered new methods for diagnosing and treating breast cancer and fibrosis.

Ronnie Kolotkin

Ronnie Kolotkin developed Impact of Weight on Quality of Life (IQWOL) a self-report measurement tool for obesity-specific quality of life used in 100s of clinics–which can now be licensed through Pattern Health.

Sally Kornbluth

Duke University Provost, Sally Kornbluth, is an inventor on several patents in cell cycle progression, cell metabolism, and programmed cell death–critical to understanding the mechanisms of cancer and other diseases.

Shyni Varghese

Shyni Varghese joined Duke Engineering in 2017 already a leader in biomaterials and stem cells. She is the first Duke MEDx Investigator and is currently developing new therapies for musculoskeletal diseases.

Tamara Fitzgerald

Tamara Fitzgerald is a pediatric surgeon working to the lower cost of laparoscopic tools for use in low-income countries–$1000 vs $216,000!

Tracy Futhey

Tracy Futhey, VP & CIO for Duke OIT, is an inventor on a patent for her novel methods of improving Information Security.

Xinnian Dong

Xinnian Dong, a Duke University biology professor, has developed a system to engineer disease-resistance in plants. Her research could help us learn how to bolster plant immune systems–reducing crop pesticide use.

Zehra Parlak

Founded by Zehra Parlak in 2016, Duke University start-up QATCH uses technology developed by Zehra and Duke Engineering professor Stefan Zauscher to accurately characterize properties of nanoliters of liquid in a few seconds.

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