Vanderbilt engineer and medtech global leader Krista Donaldson to discuss public health inequities, better products and solutions

Engineering school’s Chambers Lecture is April 4 at the Wond’ry

Vanderbilt engineering alumna, designer, author and entrepreneur Krista Donaldson has addressed global health inequities through the design and scaling of disruptive medical devices that treated more 1.8M patients, mostly children and young people, in 80 countries. Now, she directs Innovation to Impact at Stanford University’s Byers Center for Biodesign, where her work focuses on ensuring design tools and processes are broadly applicable across global markets.

Krista Donaldson

Donaldson, BS’95, will deliver the School of Engineering’s 2023 Chambers Family Entrepreneurial Lecture Tuesday, April 4, at 4:15 p.m. in the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center in the Engineering and Science Building. Her lecture—Design for Health Equity—is open to the Vanderbilt community. Design that addresses health inequities is an emerging field that brings together practices from engineering, medicine and business.

“Despite inspiring levels of collaborative problem solving, the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare not just inequities in global health care but also the challenges to sustainably scaling solutions,” Donaldson said. “I will explore historical lessons from global and public health and how these contribute to strengthening design to better align incentives to meet the needs of users and the planet.”

Donaldson will discuss practical tools and approaches that can be effectively applied in any field or industry for those seeking to create better products or solutions that reach and serve all people.

Donaldson, a Vanderbilt mechanical engineering graduate, has been recognized as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, TED speaker, and a GLG Social Impact Fellow. She was also named one of Fast Company’s “50 Designers Shaping the Future.”

Her work at Stanford’s Innovation to Impact at the Byers Center for Biodesign focuses on ensuring design tools and processes are broadly applicable across global markets. She is also part of the team establishing the East Africa Biodesign Program at the University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda. In addition to her work at Stanford, she works with organizations to promote financing of local medtech innovation in emerging markets.

Prior to joining the Byers Center, Donaldson was the founder and CEO of Equalize Health. The company filled a critical gap in health care by bridging innovation with global distribution to ensure that solutions sustainably reached the people who needed them. Peter Singer of the Effective Altruism movement called Equalize Health “one of the world’s best charities” because of its cost effectiveness and exemplary end-to-end processes.

Donaldson has served as an Economic Officer at the U.S. Department of State where she managed part of Iraq’s reconstruction portfolio, co-founded the startup Safehub, acquired by Bitium, USA, designed water pumps at KickStart International, Kenya; and worked on a range of projects at the U.S. design firm IDEO.

She master’s degrees in product design and mechanical engineering from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, also from Stanford. She has published widely in design, global health, mechanical engineering, and engineering education, and is on the boards of the Bay Area Global Health Alliance and Design for Good.

In 2014, she was inducted into the Vanderbilt School of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni. In 2018, she received the International Alumni Professional Achievement Award from the Vanderbilt Alumni Association.

The School of Engineering’s Chambers Family Entrepreneurial Lectureship was endowed in 2014 by the Chambers Medical Foundation. The lectureship encourages entrepreneurial activity among engineering students and throughout the Vanderbilt community by inviting successful business leaders to share their experiences.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 498-8975