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Muyinatu Bell conducts imaging work in her lab.

For her groundbreaking research in imaging technologies to improve breast cancer detection, Muyinatu Bell, the John C. Malone Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, was recently named to the inaugural cohort of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Science Diversity Leadership Awards.

The award, presented in partnership with the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, aims to further the leadership and accomplishments of early- and mid-career biomedical researchers who, through their outreach and teaching, have a record of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in their fields. Each recipient of the award receives a total of $1.15 million over five years to support research, mentoring, and teaching activities, and the recipients will connect with each other and international scientific leaders through convenings over the course of the five years.

“The goals and selection criteria for this award deeply resonate with my core values to deliver the best possible science to the world,” Bell says. “I’m immensely grateful for a funding mechanism that recognizes and prioritizes these values, and I’m honored to be selected as an inaugural recipient.”

Bell’s project will develop a handheld photoacoustic imaging biopsy approach which, when combined with ultrasound imaging, will provide structural, anatomical, and molecular sensitivity to detect the presence of breast cancer. The design of this technology, Bell says, will address known challenges within existing design, including poor light penetration through darker skin tones and troublesome acoustic scattering in dense breast tissue. Addressing these challenges in a single device will introduce more equitable photoacoustic breast imaging technology, paving the way for improved breast cancer detection and treatment in otherwise underserved patients.

This award is one of several Bell has received for her groundbreaking research in imaging technologies—she is a 2019 recipient of the Sloan Research Fellowship, a 2018 recipient of the National Science Foundation Early CAREER Award, and was named Outstanding Young Engineer by the Maryland Academy of Sciences in 2019. She also received the National Institute of Health’s Trailblazer Award in 2018 and was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering 2022 College of Fellows. And just before she was named a recipient of the CZI Award, she was in Venice, Italy to accept the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control Society’s Ultrasonics Early Career Investigator Award, given annually to recognize the achievements of a young researcher in the area of ultrasonics and its applications.