A New Way to Help Prevent Cervical Cancer, Invented at Duke

October 27, 2017

Cervical cancer affects half a million women each year. Many low-income countries can’t afford the diagnostic tools and treatments commonly available in the United States such as the existing standard-of-care colposcope with its price tag of $20,000.

Nimmi Ramanujam and her team at Duke’s Global Women’s Health Technologies Center developed the Pocket Colposcope to screen for cervical cancer at far lower cost—just $250—and with similar clinical performance to the standard-of-care colposcope.

Pocket Colposcope

There have been a few other attempts to come up with a better solution, but none of them have succeeded. With our handheld, low-cost design, we’re hoping to redefine the entire procedure. —Mercy Asiedu, Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering

Last year a Bass Connections project team conducted a global value chain analysis to identify the best strategy for adoption of the Pocket Colposcope in Peru. Team members conducted interviews and field research over spring break and identified six leverage points—such as midwife training and telecommunication—where specific actions can help increase the likelihood of adoption. In collaboration with local healthcare organizations, team members refined their recommendations and produced a final report that identifies the key actors, policies and leverage points for implementation.

Discussing cervical cancer screening in Lima

Led by Ramanujam with Megan Huchko, Marlee Krieger, Ernesto Ortiz and Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, this year’s Bass Connections team is focusing on launching a community health provider program to implement the Pocket Colposcope at the primary care setting.

Bass Connections has allowed me to build my network beyond business school and tap into the perspectives of other graduate disciplines. It is an extremely special opportunity to work with students of all backgrounds and expertise. Moreover, the hands-on approach and in-country learning elements have helped me to grow as a leader in new ways. —Emily Mason, MBA student

On October 16, Ramanujam showed off the Pocket Colposcope at the first annual Invented at Duke celebration, hosted by the Office of Licensing and Ventures and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative.

Nimmi Ramanujam

The Global Women’s Health Technologies Center shared a photo of Megan Huchko, Mercy Asiedu and Júlia Agudogo ’17 at the Women Leaders in Global Health conference, held at Stanford University on October 12.

Women Leaders in Global Health

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Photos: Mercy Asiedu shows the Pocket Colposcope (Duke Photography, courtesy of Pratt School of Engineering); midwife Catya Lopez and Yenny Fuentes of La Liga Contra el Cancer talk with Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell in the Carabayllo area of Lima, Peru, in front of a mobile van that does cervical cancer screening (courtesy of Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell); Nimmi Ramanujam talks about the Pocket Colposcope at the Invented at Duke celebration (Jared Lazarus/Duke Photography); Megan Huchko, Mercy Asiedu and Júlia Agudogo at the Women Leaders in Global Health conference (courtesy of Global Women’s Health Technologies Center)