Our Work

Development of Low Cost Optical Technologies for Cervical Pre-Cancer Detection

Project Overview

A significant challenge in detecting cervical pre-cancer in low-resource settings is the lack of effective screening techniques and trained personnel to detect the disease before it is advanced. Light-based technologies have the potential to provide an eff ective, low-cost and portable solution for cervical pre-cancer screening in these communities. The goal of this project is to design, engineer and field test a USB-powered hand-held optical device for cervical pre-cancer screening in Haiti.

This technology is based on diffuse reflectance spectroscopy which was shown to be effective in the detection of high grade cervical pre-cancers (pre-cancerous disease that is most likely to progress into cancer) in a 39-patient clinical study at the Duke University Medical Center. The work brings together biomedical engineer Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam and Duke physicians, Drs. Peter Cartwright and David Walmer.

This project provides the resources necessary to establish this collaboration, build a prototype, and conduct preliminary testing at a field clinic in Haiti. This project will provide evidence of the feasibility of using a low-cost optical device for screening cervical cancer in resource-poor communities in Haiti. We have designed two smart sensor prototypes. The designs are currently being validated in a 100-patient clinical study in Haiti.

Department & School

Biomedical Engineering
Pratt School of Engineering



  • Duke University

Project Status


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