What led you to choose science and/or engineering as a career, particularly in the medical device field?
After 35 years working in Fortune 100 tech companies (Intel and Google) where I was enabling the proliferation and democratization of technology, I decided to enter the medtech start-up world with the objective of having a direct impact on health. The evolution of the medical industry into the medtech industry is at last occurring. The positive impact technology is having on improving patient outcomes is immense. The future of healthcare is electronics, data, and artificial intelligence.
What has been your most rewarding moment/accomplishment as an engineer/scientist in the medical field?
Clearly the most rewarding is the patient success stories, and we have many. One woman undergoing a liver transplant began to generate blood clots that made their way to her brain. Our technology identified the clots during surgery, enabling the physician to administer anticoagulants and eliminate the threat of stroke. She fully recovered from the surgery.
Another patient was undergoing heart surgery when blood stopped flowing to his brain. Our device recognized the reduction in blood flow, alerting the cardiac surgeon. CPR was administered and as we monitored the patient, we were able to signal when blood flow resumed. The patient had been legally dead for eight minutes. I am happy to say he survived both the heart surgery and the stroke.
It is moments like these that bring great satisfaction and pride in my work.
What advice would you give to other women looking to work in biomedical engineering and science?
I have found the pace of technology to be exhilarating, and it will only continue to accelerate. As an industry, healthcare is at a key inflection point in technology adoption. Opportunities constantly emerge that spark new tracks of innovation and result in new life-saving solutions — it’s this beautiful, virtuous cycle.
Despite the opportunity and impact, the field of engineering is severely underrepresented by women and people of color. I have personally experienced the intellectual, emotional, and financial rewards of engineering.
I encourage all women to defy the norm and participate in this world-changing field.
Are there other insights you would like to share?
Last month I made the largest-ever donation to the College of Engineering at UC Davis, my alma mater. I did so with the objective of making visual the fact that success in the field of engineering is unrelated to race, gender, or other classifications. I have spent my career preaching to corporate leaders to create an inclusive environment that will result in a diverse engineering population. Change is hard, but it’s worth the fight. I believe in the power of the next generation of women to continue this work.
Success in biomed engineering will be achieved when there is no longer a majority population in tech, but rather a broad community representing the population being served. The opportunities are endless.
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