Earlier today, during a graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Health Sciences, CapeRay’s co-founder and board member, Tania Douglas, was recognised as a Fellow of the University of Cape Town (UCT), an honour awarded to academic staff in recognition of original and distinguished scholarship. Professor Douglas currently holds the prestigious South African Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering & Innovation and serves as director of the Medical Imaging Research Unit. For the past 20 years her research has focused on major public health problems for which she has developed novel instruments and techniques for computer-assisted diagnosis.
Her first set of techniques applied image and statistical shape analysis to the characterisation of the facial phenotype associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, for which South Africa has the world’s highest incidence. This work has been published in leading international journals such as Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing and IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging and her research group is now recognised as one of the world’s leaders in facial morphology. Professor Douglas has also made seminal contributions in the detection of tuberculosis with the development of a “smart microscope,” research that was funded by a grant awarded to her by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
She has co-authored important papers on: measuring the radiation dose from a linear slit scanning X-ray system; validation of a mathematical tissue-equivalent breast phantom; Monte-Carlo simulation of a slit scanning imaging system; impact of mHealth interventions on breast cancer awareness and screening; testing a dual-modality system that combines full-field digital mammography and automated breast ultrasound; and detecting breast cancer with a dual-modality device. This research was supported by grants from the NIH and the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).
Professor Douglas’s recent work has emphasised the social context of technological innovation and the importance of end-user engagement. With a new postgraduate programme in health innovation, she has created an ecosystem in which biomedical engineering and social context are identifying novel solutions for improved health. She has launched and is founding editor of an open-access electronic journal, Global Health Innovation, and is also engaged in capacity development for academic staff and postgraduate students from other African countries, with funding support from the European Commission.
Professor Douglas is a Fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE) and last year was elected a Fellow of the International Academy for Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE). At CapeRay we are delighted to celebrate her latest accolade as she joins the College of Fellows at UCT.