September 24, 2018

MIT News: Padma Lakshmi named MIT visiting scholar

Lakshmi is a vocal activist in the realm of women’s health, particularly in the push to combat endometriosis, which negatively impacted her life and career before a treatment breakthrough at age 36 addressed the monthly pain, cramping, nausea, headache, fatigue, and excessive blood flow the condition triggers. She is also the Emmy-nominated host and executive producer of Bravo’s Top Chef, an award-winning author, an actress, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union, and co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

“I am thrilled to launch my appointment as a visiting scholar in the Center for Gynepathology Research at the Open Endoscopy Forum,” says Lakshmi, who will be hosted by a leading expert in endometriosis, Linda Griffith, an MIT School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation, Biological Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. “I believe advocating for targeted research, education, and increased awareness around women’s health issues is critical,” she adds.

Lakshmi will speak at the Forum at 5:30 p.m. The annual event features Ted-style talks from leading gynecology surgeons and MIT technology pioneers, which foster vigorous intellectual exploration at the intersection between gynecology surgery, patient care, and modern technology and science.

“Too many people avoid talking about difficult subjects in women’s health. Endometriosis is an incredibly private subject for women but if I had been diagnosed and received proper treatment earlier in my life, I’d have gained valuable time. I would have been more present for my family and friends and had a greater capacity to advance professionally,” says Lakshmi.

When MIT launched the Center for Gynepathology Research in 2009, Lakshmi delivered the keynote address. Since then, she has returned to MIT on multiple occasions to discuss women’s health issues and raise awareness about endometriosis among MIT students.

Earlier that day, Lakshmi will meet with MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart and dean of engineering Anantha Chandrakasan, the Vannevar Bush Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She will visit with research scientists to discuss new developments in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecology diseases, including endometriosis, adenomyosis, and preterm birth.

In addition, Lakshmi will tour the MIT Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics to learn more about MIT’s world-renowned work studying and controlling the gut microbiome. She will also discuss food and nutrition with MIT students working on “Engineering the Human Gut,” a three-year project to build a highly instrumented model of a tissue-engineered human gut complete with microbiome as part of a new interdisciplinary program, New Engineering Education Transformation.

Full announcement here.

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