Women innovators and inventors are dynamic contributors to modern healthcare. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting some of the women who have persevered through ingrained gender bias to create something both unique and essential to human life.
We chose women whose accomplishments marry medicine with technology to make a difference, as a reflection of what we do at Healthcare Management Solutions (HMS), LLC. With the exception of Marie Curie, none of these women are household names, but we’re sure you’ll agree that their contributions to the field of medicine are extraordinary.
Marie Salomea Skłodowska-Curie’s pioneering research on radioactivity revolutionized the fields of physics and chemistry. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win a second one. Her work led to the development of the X-ray machine and radiation treatment for cancer patients. She founded the Curie Institutes in both Paris and Warsaw, both of which remain world-renowned cancer research and care institutions.
Nina Starr Braunwald, M.D.
Dr. Nina Starr Braunwald was the first female cardiac surgeon and the inventor of a prosthetic mitral valve, which she then successfully implanted in a human patient when she was only 32 years old. Later iterations of her mechanical valve were used in heart surgeries throughout the 1960s and 70s. Dr. Starr Braunwald served as deputy chief of the Clinic of Surgery at NIH from 1965 to 1968, and continued to pioneer surgical techniques and treatments throughout her life.
Ruth Davis, Ph.D.
The first woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Maryland in 1955, Ruth Davis was a computer programmer for the U.S. Navy where she designed a system for managing naval operations. Then at the National Library of Medicine, she helped launch MEDLINE, a medical literature database, and created data encryption to protect data privacy that’s still used today. Her work laid the foundation for the telemedicine visits that so many of us use today.
Judith R. Faulkner
Judy Faulkner founded what is now one of the leading electronic medical record (EMR) companies. Faulkner started her business in her basement in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1979 with business partner John Greist. In its early days, the company provided data analysis to state and local governments. In 1983, the company launched Cadence, a patient-scheduling software, under the name Epic. Epic is now a healthcare technology leader with about 3,000 employees.
Dr. Sana Farid
A researcher, surgeon, and leader in women’s empowerment, Dr. Sana Farid pioneered virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in healthcare, ushering us into the future of medicine. An original AR/VR strategist in the MENA (Middle East, North Africa) region, Dr. Farid co-founded Munfarid Consulting, an AR/VR education consultancy consortium.
Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D., and Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D.
Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, a method of genome editing that allows researchers to change the DNA of animals, plants, and microorganisms. Their technique has quickly taken hold throughout the world, allowing for dormant gene therapies to reach their full potential.
Patricia Bath, M.D.
Dr. Patricia Bath was an ophthalmologist, laser scientist, research scientist, and fierce advocate for blindness prevention. She invented a new device and technique for cataract surgery known as the Laserphaco Probe, revolutionizing the field. Dr. Bath is also well known for the creation of a new discipline called “community ophthalmology.” A true trailblazer, she became the first woman to chair an ophthalmology residency in the United States in 1983 at Drew-UCLA.
Lillian M. Beard, M.D.
Dr. Lillian Beard is a pediatrician who uses modern media to make “house calls.” Her clever use of mass communication technologies like television, the internet, and print media grants her the ability to educate millions of people at once. Dr. Beard’s innovative approach to pediatric care allows her to reach a broad audience without sacrificing the vitality of one-on-one patient care.