Anuradha Godavarty, associate professor of biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering & Computing (COE), was named a Health Care Hero at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s 15th annual Health Care Heroes® Awards celebration Tuesday, May 22, at Jungle Island. Godavarty was honored for her and her team’s research efforts that have led to multiple inventions of portable, hand-held imaging devices that show early promise in improving the diagnosis of breast cancer and in aiding the pre-screening of sports injuries and other on-site body imaging applications.
The awards program honors individuals, institutions, professionals, students, volunteers and programs who throughout their individual or collective actions have made an extraordinary impact in the South Florida healthcare community.
“One of the grand challenges for engineering this century, as set by the National Academy of Engineering, is ‘engineering better medicine,’” said COE Dean Amir Mirmiran. “This award is a recognition of the heroic work of engineers supporting the healthcare industry, and a testament to why engineering is essential to our health, happiness and safety.”
After a decade of focusing research efforts on breast imaging, Godavarty and her team invented the first hand-held optical device capable of 3-D tumor detection. The device is showing early promise in improving the diagnosis of breast cancer. Best used in conjunction with standard diagnostic imaging tools, the new device complements x-ray mammography and has the potential for cancer diagnostics as well as tumor response therapy studies. The technology is neither radiative nor invasive, and the patient experiences no pain or discomfort from breast compressions. The experience for the patient mimics the experience of getting an ultrasound. Since optical imaging tools are relatively inexpensive and portable, the device makes diagnostic testing more feasible and affordable for most patients.
“Winning this award is the first step towards community awareness of emerging optical technologies to the healthcare world. This award is not just for me, but for my entire research group who work hard to see it happen, and my family and friends who always supported my belief in our technology,” said Godavarty. “Thanks to FIU and the nominators for promoting my research on breast cancer using novel optical technologies. The award will truly earn its meaning when our technology can change the lives of people, especially women, in the future.”
In the past two years, Godavarty has invented a second hand-held device that mimics an x-ray mammography as well as an ultrasound device (in its imaging style). This has the added advantage of deep tumor detections and improving imaging speeds. In the past few months, Godavarty has invented a third, ultra-portable hand-held device that is applicable for pre-screening breast cancer, sports injuries and other on-site body imaging applications. The device is inexpensive and thus appropriate for even low resource income countries with limited health care technologies.
“Dr. Godavarty and her dedicated team of fellows and students exemplify the ‘discover, design, develop and deliver’ mantra of biomedical engineers,” said Ranu Jung, Wallace H. Coulter Eminent Scholars Chair of Biomedical Engineering and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “The novel technology for breast tumor imaging they have developed will not only impact many women’s lives but has potential for changing delivery of clinical care, particularly in resource-challenged communities.”
Godavarty’s award was in the Bio-Medical category. Other Health Care Heroes honored at the event (by category):
- AXA Advisors Lifetime Achievement Award: Thomas J. Balkany, M.D., FACS, FAAP, Hotchkiss Endowed Professor and director at University of Miami Ear Institute/UHealth and Chairman Emeritus, Department of Otolaryngology and Professor of Otolaryngology, Neurological Surgery and Pediatrics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
- Health Care Professional: Cathy Herring, recreation therapist at Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital.
- Individual of Merit: Pete Gutierrez, MD, MMS, PA-C, dean at the Miami Dade College Medical Center Campus School of Health Sciences.
- Institution/Program: Angel Flight Southeast
- Nurse: A. Kris Kist, RN, part-time ICU nurse on the night shift at South Miami Hospital, Baptist Health South Florida.
- Youth Volunteer Recipient: Jamie Henschel, youth chair of the Florida Community Council, National Psoriasis Foundation.