Natalia Rodriguez

Natalia Rodriguez

Assistant Professor
Office: Matthews Hall, Room 218

Research Interests:

Dr. Rodriguez' research lies at the intersection of Public Health and Biomedical Engineering and takes a community-based participatory approach to health technology design and implementation. Her current work focuses on the development of new point-of-care cancer detection tools and innovative deployment strategies to address cancer disparities. Her overarching career goal is to develop and improve upon mechanisms for successful uptake and systemic adoption of innovative technologies, combining community-based participatory research (CBPR) and human-centered design (HCD) with health technology development, translation, and implementation in order to empower community health workforces, strengthen health systems, and improve health outcomes at the population level. The application of CBPR and HCD to the development and implementation of cancer detection tools represents an enormous opportunity in cancer control efforts to address inequities in healthcare access and disparities in health outcomes by tailoring interventions to meet the specific needs of the intended end-user with real consideration of her community, social structure, and cultural context. These methodologies are also broadly applicable to health conditions beyond cancer, including infectious disease diagnosis and outbreak surveillance efforts.

Dr. Rodriguez’ interdisciplinary research program currently includes several thematic areas:

  1. Qualitative participatory research engaging diverse stakeholders to inform the acceptability, design, and translation of low-cost cancer screening technologies in medically-underserved communities.
  2. Human-centered technology design through iterative operationalization of stakeholder feedback and in close collaboration with biomedical engineers
  3. Training of community health workers (CHWs) to employ novel diagnostic technologies to both assess prototype functionality as well as demonstrate the feasibility of CHW-administered community-based population screening interventions

Educational Background:

  • B.S., Chemical Engineering at MIT in 2009
  • B.S., Biology at MIT in 2009
  • M.S.E., Bioengineering at University of Pennsylvania in 2013
  • Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering at Boston University in 2016
  • M.P.H., Global Health at Harvard School of Public Health in 2017 

Selected Publications:

  • Rodriguez, N. M. (2021). Participatory innovation for human papillomavirus screening to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer. The Lancet Global Health, 9(5), e582-e583.
  • Rodriguez, N.M., Lahey, A.M., MacNeill, J.J., Martinez, R.G., Teo, N.E., Ruiz, Y. (2021). Homelessness during COVID-19: challenges, responses, and lessons learned from homeless service providers in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. BMC Public Health, 21, 1657.
  • Casanova, F., Knaul, F.M., Rodriguez, N.M. (2021). Harvesting Health Knowledge: Breast Cancer Perceptions in the South Florida Latinx Farmworker Community. Qualitative Health Research.
  • Rodriguez, N. M., Casanova, F., Pages, G., Claure, L., Pedreira, M., Touchton, M., & Knaul, F.M. (2020). Community-based participatory design of a community health worker breast cancer training intervention for South Florida Latinx farmworkers. PloS one, 15(10), e0240827.
  • Knaul, F.M., Rodriguez, N.M., Arreola-Ornelas H., Olson, J.R. (2019) Cervical Cancer: Lessons Learned from Neglected Tropical Diseases. The Lancet Global Health. 
  • Velazquez Berumen, A., Jimenez Moyao, G., Rodriguez, N.M., Ilbawi, A.M., Migliore, A., Shulman, L.N. Defining priority medical devices for cancer management: methodology, process, and outcome from a World Health Organization initiative. (2018). The Lancet Oncology, 19(12), pp.e709-e719.
  • Rodriguez, N. M., Brant, J. M., Pendharkar, D., Arreola-Ornelas, H., Bhadelia, A., Lopes, G., Knaul, F. M. (2017). Thinking Differently in Global Health in Oncology Using a Diagonal Approach: Harnessing Similarities, Improving Education, and Empowering an Alternative Oncology Workforce. In American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) educational book. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Meeting (Vol. 37, pp. 416-425).
  • Rodriguez, N. M., Wong, W. S., Liu, L., Dewar, R., Klapperich, C. M. (2016). A Fully Integrated Paperfluidic Molecular Diagnostic Chip for the Extraction, Amplification, and Detection of Nucleic Acids from Clinical Samples. Lab on a Chip, DOI:10.1039/c5lc01392e.
  • Rodriguez, N. M., Linnes, J. C., Fan, A., Ellenson, C. K., Pollock, N. R., & Klapperich, C. M. (2015). Paper-based RNA extraction, in situ isothermal amplification, and lateral flow detection for low-cost, rapid diagnosis of Influenza A (H1N1) from clinical specimens. Analytical Chemistry, 87(15), 7872-7879.

A complete list of Dr. Rodriguez’ publications can be found here.


PUBH 51100: Foundations of Global Health

PUBH 20200: Health in the Time of Pandemics