Each month, Look Who’s Talking features voices from across the Brigham answering the same question. In honor of Women’s History Month, this month we asked: Which female innovator inspires you? If you would like to add your voice to the conversation, please submit a comment at the bottom of the page.

“Dame Cicely Saunders was a force for innovation. She was the founder of the modern hospice movement, establishing St. Christopher’s Hospice in 1967 in London. The specialty of palliative medicine and hospice continue to benefit from her innovations to this day.”  — Haipeng (Mark) Zhang, DO, MMSc, Medical Director, Brigham Innovation Hub



“I first learned about Marie Curie from my elementary school textbook as a young girl in India. I was surprised and thrilled to learn that a woman could discover new elements and get the world’s most prestigious award, the Nobel Prize. Madam Marie Curie, undoubtedly, continued to inspire me through the various stages of my career. Her legendary story is compelling and stands out for her brilliance, dedication and resilience. Known for her pioneering work in radioactivity, Curie also designed radiology cars (the first mobile x-ray machines) for the battlefield during the First World War. She was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize—and the first to receive two Nobel Prizes. Most importantly, her influence and contributions transformed the world by opening the previously closed doors of science and medicine for women.” — Bharti Khurana, MD, Emergency Radiologist, Department of Radiology

“Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, co-founder of the non-profit think tank, Urban Ocean Lab, co-founder of the climate initiative, The All We Can Save Project, and co-creator of the podcast, How to Save a Planet. Ayana is so inspiring because her actions are fully aligned with her passion to make earth a more hospitable planet for all. And I love her main message about figuring out what to do by looking at the intersection of three things: 1) what brings you joy? 2) what are you good at? and 3) what is the work that needs doing?” — Jeff Karp, PhD, Distinguished Chair in Clinical Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine


“Easy answer for me! I grew up with her: my mom. Dr. Ellen Sheets was a gynecologic oncologist at BWH for 15 years before transitioning into industry. She first utilized her research to help develop and commercialize the ThinPrep pap. Since then, I have watched her tackle a series of intellectual challenges and unmet medical needs with new, device-based solutions. Most importantly, she is incredibly generous with her time and success, devoting countless hours to mentoring future leaders from all walks of life.” — Elizabeth Yates, MD, Research Fellow, Center for Surgery and Public Health

“All female innovators are simply inspiring – from Marie Curie to every single one of them who I frequently interact with, formally or informally, in my field of engineering in medicine. These also include all the trainees within the lab. Women scientists are a critical component of our workforce and have significantly contributed to our research excellence over the years at Brigham.” — Yu (Shrike) Zhang, PhD, Associate Bioengineer, Division of Engineering in Medicine


“I have two. Mariana Matus, PhD, is a close collaborator and founder of Biobot Analytics, an innovative startup company that has developed a platform for measuring the concentration of opioids and other substances of abuse in wastewater networks in neighborhoods. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has tirelessly led Biobot and BWH researchers in developing COVID-19 wastewater assays and demonstrating how our sewer systems can be natural early warning systems for the current and future pandemics. My wife, Zoe Tseng, who is a primary care physician at BWH is a top female innovator. Dr. Tseng is a tireless advocate for physicians and patients and innovative in developing curriculum to train fellow BWH physicians to become advocates in health law. She has testified before the MA Legislature on bills surrounding equitable access to medications and COVID-19 vaccination, and uses her experience to mentor residents and faculty in using their voice to advocate for their patients.”  — Peter Chai, MD, Physician, Emergency Medicine


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