Posted December 2, 2004 Atlanta
Communications and Marketing
Contact David Terraso
Ambika Bumb knows firsthand about the importance of technology in medicine. As an intern at GE Healthcare last summer, she helped her team diagnose and repair a problem that caused new blood pressure monitors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to take more than 10 minutes to get a reading - time that could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency room.
The experience reinforced Bumb's commitment to developing life-saving medical technologies. She'll continue to chase her dream next fall at Oxford where she'll pursue a Ph.D. in medical engineering as a recipient of a 2005 Marshall Scholarship.
"This may sound idealistic," said Bumb, "but I want to help come up with a new technology or treatment for a disease. I want to be the person who follows it through to make sure it reaches the people I'm developing it for," she said.
Bumb said she knows medical treatments won't help anyone if they can't be commercially viable. "You have to tailor the research to the market," she said. "For example, you develop drugs for Africa, not treatments that require lots of machines."
A senior in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, Bumb plans to get her degree this spring, just three years after she enrolled on a Reginald S. Fleet President's Scholarship. "Being at Georgia Tech has changed what my future is going to be. It's offered me so many opportunities and the President's Scholarship gave me the opportunity to be at Tech," she said.
While at Tech, Bumb worked with associate professor Gang Bao on developing nanomolecular beacon tracking devices to map the territory of cells. This year, she's extending this research by designing a new tracking tool, a quantum dot, for vitamin D in the lab of professor Barbara Boyan. The quantum dot could be used to help treat bone and cartilage diseases such as osteoporosis and rickets.
"She's a natural leader and very insightful," said Boyan. "I have been struck by her systematic approach and her willingness to put in the hours necessary to tackle the problem in an organized and quite innovative way."
Bumb said academics aren't the only thing to get out of college. At Tech she served on the Georgia Tech Advisory Board, working with prominent business leaders to advise the administration on future goals. She also served in student government on the Joint Finance Committee, helping to decide how to allocate $3.5 million collected from the student activities fee.
"The finance committee was a huge learning experience in how to take resources to benefit the most people that you can," she said.
In addition, she helped found a new Indian dance team at Tech, Nazaaqat, which played to a packed house at the Ferst Center for the Arts.
Bumb is the sixth Georgia Tech student to win the Marshall, a scholarship established by the British Government for American students in 1953 in appreciation for assistance received after World War II under the Marshall Plan. The scholarship encourages potential leaders to become ambassadors for the United States and establish personal ties between the two countries.
Prominent former Marshall scholars include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt; New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman; and the scientist/inventor Ray Dolby.
Bumb said she hopes someday to fill the shoes of the Marshall Scholars who came before her. "Like most kids, when I was little I had dreams of saving the world - inventing a cure or finding the key to world peace," she said. "However as you get older everyone around you becomes more realistic and you push off idealism for practicality. Now I have returned to that childhood fantasy, actually seeing that there may be a chance of me being able to make an impact on the world in some way."
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.