Francesca Riccio-Ackerman is working to improve the future of healthcare for “forever patients.” Working in the Biomechatronics Group in the MIT Media Lab and the K. Lisa Yang Center for Bionics at MIT, she focuses on making prosthetic business sectors more equitable domestically and internationally on a systemic level by designing tools that improve access to, and translation of, prosthetic technologies.
Through the Yang Center, Francesca is designing and building a sustainable care and delivery model in Sierra Leone that will multiply the production of prosthetic limbs and strengthen the country’s prosthetic sector.
Maintaining a global perspective in all endeavors, Francesca tailors her approach to the needs of each country using a spectrum of methods: tangible, including mobile clinics to extend medical services to rural patients; experimental, utilizing psychoprosthetic tools documenting patient experiences; and analytical, implementing health economic metrics to capture patients’ unmet financial burdens.
Prior to pursuing her PhD at MIT, Francesca studied biomedical engineering and worked as a researcher in the Adaptive Neural Systems Laboratory at Florida International University, contributing to the development of advanced prosthetic arms. She earned her master’s degree at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan in health economics and policy, specializing in global health development for access and health technology translation.
Since then, she has worked as a research specialist in the MIT Media Lab, documenting communities that were medically neglected in prosthetic care and, with her mentor Professor Hugh Herr, envisioning ways to improve care for people with amputation around the world.