Guided by the belief that all of the world's people deserve access to health innovation, Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum's research and teaching focus on developing low-cost, high-performance technology for low-resource settings. She is known for providing vulnerable populations in the developing world access to life-saving health technology, focusing on diseases and conditions that cause high morbidity and mortality, such as cervical and oral cancer, premature birt, and malaria. Richards-Kortum is also leading a multi-institutional team to develop a package of 17 life-saving neonatal technolgoies, designed for low-resource settings while providing the same efficacy as related technologies used in North America, but at a fraction of the cost.
Current technologies are being tested and applied through multidisciplinary collaborations with clinicians and researchers at Rice, the UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, UT Health Science Center Houston, and the British Columbia Cancer Agency. Over the past few years, Richards-Kortum and collaborators have translated these technologies from North America to both low- and medium-resource developing countries (Malawi, China, Botswana, El Salvador, and Brazil).
Richards-Kortum's research has led to the development of 40 patents and more than 310 refereed research papers. Her teaching programs, research and collaborations have been supported by generous grants from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, U. S. Department of Defense, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation, USAID, the Whitaker Foundation, and the Virginia and L. E. Simmons Family Foundation.
Dr. Richards-Kortum is the Malcolm Gillis University Professor, Professor of Bioengineering and ECE at Rice University, director of Rice 360º: Institue for Global Health Technologies, and founder of the Beyond Traditional Borders initiative at Rice University. She joined Rice in 2005, andhas served two terms as chair of the bioengineering program (2005-2008; 2012-present).
Richards-Kortum is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was one of the twenty-three 2016 MacArthur Fellows named by the John D. and Catherine T. MacAruthur Foundation. She also received the highest honor from The American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering (AIMBE) in 2016, the Pierre Galletti Award. She was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in 2002 and 2006. Together with Maria Oden, she received the Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation in 2014.
She received a B. S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Nebraska, a M. S. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph. D. in Medical Physics from the Massachusetts institute of Technology.