Dr. Kanan Desai, MD, MPH, is currently working as a staff scientist at the US National Cancer Institute. Dr. Desai earned an MBBS in 2010 from Government Medical College, Surat, India, and completed a Medical Residency in 2014 and graduated with honors in the subspecialty of Community Medicine from Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education & Research, Surat, India. Her thesis addressed HIV in Gujarat, and her work focused on community health programs on infectious diseases, maternal and child health, and immunization monitoring. She spent the following year working with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health in India on a health system strengthening project regarding water, sanitation, and hygiene in health facilities, including training on infection management and reproductive health. Dr. Desai then completed an MPH with honors from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, in 2016.
Dr. Desai’s research interest is to contribute to developing new cervical cancer screening technologies that are affordable, scalable, and sustainable in low-resource settings. In her current role, she focuses on helping reorganize and clinically validate a rapid, low-cost isothermal amplification-based HPV typing assay to support risk-based cervical screening and management. In addition, she led a community-based field research study involving screening in Nigeria to develop and evaluate a novel low-cost COVID-safe approach in cervical cancer screening and triage. The strategy combines self-sampling for HPV testing with extended genotyping; HPV-positive women are secondarily tested for risk of precancer using a smartphone-based deep-learning algorithm for automated visual evaluation (AVE) of cervical images. She is also interested in epidemiological considerations required to validate and adapt artificial intelligence-based diagnostic technologies as clinically useful tests.