Jessica Winter is in remission from breast cancer, a diagnosis she received just weeks after joining a team who was working to battle the disease.

Jennifer Campbell, Indiana Prarie Farmer Contributor

January 19, 2016

3 Min Read
Life Imitates Research For This Year’s Rising Engineering Star

When Jessica Winter found out she was going to be the recipient of Design News’ annual Rising Engineering Star award, she thought, “why me?” But that is the only time in her 40 years she has thought that -- even after her breast cancer diagnosis at age 35. This is just one of the reasons we think she is so remarkable.

Winter is professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering at The Ohio State University and co-founder of Core Quantum Technologies. She and her team are currently working to develop fluorescing nanoparticles for medical diagnosis, imaging, and research. In short, she is fighting the very same disease that she refused to succumb to.

The Columbus, Ohio-based company invented a type of nanoparticle that emits different colors to tag molecules in biomedical tests. It allows researchers to better identify and understand disease progression, Winter told Design News, in an interview.

“This technology has very real potential to enhance clinical diagnosis improving patient outcomes,” she said. “We are fortunate that we get to work on this problem.”

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Matt Schutte, director of communications & engineering healthcare solutions at Ohio State’s College of Engineering nominated Winter for the Rising Engineering Star award because she “epitomizes the growing trend of engineers applying their skills to solve healthcare challenges. As a cancer survivor herself, she approaches her research with urgency and empathy, and with a focus on translation -- on taking knowledge from the bench to the bedside.”

“Jessica is much more than a professor,” Schutte told us. “She is an entrepreneur, a mentor to dozens of students, an enthusiastic Ohio State engineering ambassador, and a productively impatient researcher who knows she can make a difference. Her research may occur at the nanoscale, but her impact will soon be felt on a global scale.”

READ ABOUT PAST RISING ENGINEERING STAR WINNERS:

When Winter began working at Ohio State, she was known for her background in nervous systems, but had joined a team that was researching brain cancer. Then, the team researching breast cancer approached her.

“We hadn’t gotten very far (in our research before my diagnosis),” she told us, “but it’s changed the way that I do my research. Instead of stopping at a certain point, we just kept going further with it than we would have. It has changed my perspective a lot.”

[Meet Jessica Winter during Design News' Golden Mousetrap Awards held during Pacific Design & Manufacturing, Feb. 9-11, at the Anaheim Convention Center.]

Winter said being a patient in many ways has helped her bridge the gap between the clinician and the patient. “It’s been very interesting for me,” she said. “I would never suggest to anyone that they should go get cancer and battle it, but it’s been a positive experience in many ways. It’s made me more aware.”

“I love my work and I love the idea that I can help other people,” she added. “Maybe their experience will be better than mine.”

Winter gave an engaging Ted Talk in November, 2014. See it here.

Jennifer Campbell is an award-winning journalist and the executive editor of Design News.

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About the Author(s)

Jennifer Campbell

Indiana Prarie Farmer Contributor

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