Emory Female Inventors Revisited

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The Emory community is proud to have some of the most cutting-edge research teams led by women. Female scientists at Emory are responsible for a variety of innovative discoveries in biomedical sciences and technology. Some of their inventions have had profound positive impact on the scientific community and society as a whole. In this article, we are honoring five of Emory’s female inventors and their work. Check out our previous post on Emory Female Inventors.

Cassandra Quave is an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the School of Medicine and the Center for the Study of Human Health. She is a medical ethnobotanist, studying the medicinal properties of novel plant compounds. One of the biggest issues in modern medicine is the existence of bacterial strains that do not respond to most known antibiotics or drugs. To tackle this issue, Quave is looking for new plant-derived molecules that can help with the treatment of antibiotic-resistant infections. Her team discovered compounds in the sweet chestnut and Brazilian pepper trees that can combat methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), one of the most common and dangerous healthcare related infections. These extracts are a safe and effective way to mitigate MRSA symptoms and halt disease progression. Her important work has been prominently featured in the New York Times and NPR.

Hyunsuk Shim is a Professor at the Department of Radiation Oncology and a Crocker Family Chair in Cancer Innovation. She is studying how certain molecules called chemokines and their receptors may participate in cancer metastasis and inflammation. Research has shown that one of these chemokines (CXCR4) is found in various types of cancer, such as breast and colon. Shim and her team developed new chemical molecules that effectively block CXCR4 and its receptor and can be used as safe anti-cancer therapeutics. However, Shim’s work doesn’t stop there: she is also interested in new imaging methods for diagnosis and risk assessment of brain tumors. To this end, she has developed a web-based application that utilizes imaging data to assist with tumor diagnosis and treatment planning. You can learn more about Shim’s innovative platform here.

Suephy Chen is Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Dermatology and Director of the Dermatology Clinical and Outcomes Research Unit at Winship Cancer Institute. Her work is focused on skin diseases and their effects on society and patients’ quality of life. Skin diseases such as rosacea and scalp dermatitis can be debilitating for the patient, and their burden is often poorly assessed. As a solution, Chen has developed a variety of tools that help physicians assess the quality of life associated with these diseases. These instruments can help doctors and patients find the most effective treatments by rigorously measuring disease progression over time. Chen’s important work has led to many honors, including awards from the National Institutes of Health, the Dermatology Foundation and the Veterans Administration. Read more about Suephys work in one of our featured innovations here.

Malathy Shanmugam is an Associate Professor at the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology. She is working on the development of new treatments for multiple myeloma, an aggressive form of plasma cancer that is highly drug resistant. Shanmugam’s work has led to the discovery of several small molecules that help potentiate the effect of existing therapies. These molecules target the glucose metabolism pathways of cancer cells, essentially “starving” them. Furthermore, Shanmugam’s team is studying how cancer metabolism can affect the probability of cancer metastasis, which may lead to more potential treatments. You can learn more about Shanmugam’s work here.

Chia-shi Wang is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Division of Pediatric Nephrology. Her research focuses on childhood nephrotic syndrome, a common kidney disease where protein is released in the urine and can lead to kidney injury. This disease requires extensive at-home monitoring, which can be difficult for patients. To assist with that, Wang has developed a mobile application that helps with nephrotic syndrome management. The app can track and analyze urine test strips and detect disease developments. Furthermore, patients can easily find educational resources and information on their condition. Wang’s work does not stop there, since she is also involved in clinical trials for new kidney disease treatments. Read about one of Chia-shi’s innovations in this technology brief.