11 August 1969 – 20 March 2021
It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of Fellow Tania Douglas on 20 March 2021 following a courageous battle with breast cancer. She was aged just 51. At the time of her death, Tania was a professor at the University of Cape Town (UCT), held the prestigious South African Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering and Innovation, and served as director of the Biomedical Engineering Research Centre. She was a co-founder of CapeRay in 2010 and has served on its board of directors since then.

Tania Douglas was a true citizen of the world, transcending geography and embracing the environment in which she found herself. She grew up in Pacaltsdorp, a small close-knit community in the Southern Cape, and from there entered UCT where she graduated with a BSc honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering. A scholarship took her to the United States where she earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University, followed by a PhD in bioengineering at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. For her post-doctoral fellowship, Tania spent a year in Tokyo working on image processing for the Japan Broadcasting Corporation.

Tania returned to her alma mater in 2000 and for the past two decades her research focused on major public health problems for which she developed novel instruments and computer-assisted techniques. She developed facial phenotypes associated with fetal alcohol syndrome and made seminal contributions in the detection of tuberculosis with the development of a “smart microscope.” Tania also co-authored important papers on measurement of radiation dose; validation of a breast phantom; simulation of a slot-scanning system ; Health interventions on breast cancer awareness; and detecting breast cancer with a dual-modality device.

During the past decade, Professor Douglas has been awarded Fellowships by the South African Academy of Engineering (SAAE), the International Academy for Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE), and the University of Cape Town (UCT). In 2018 she launched and was founding editor of Global Health Innovation, and earlier this year was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Medical Engineering & Physics.

Obituary with kind permission of Fellow Professor Kit Vaughan