Francesca Riccio-Ackerman

Biomechatronics
  • Research Assistant

Francesca 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, she focuses on making prosthetic sectors more equitable domestically and internationally on a systemic level by designing tools that improve access to and translation of prosthetic technologies. In three terms, she summarizes her work as touching upon health equity, global health systems and technology translation.

She travels often to conduct fieldwork and learn from patients' stories-- visiting communities globally from prosthetic clinics in Jordan close to the Syrian border, to indigenous tribes in remote areas of Sonora, Mexico, to rural War Amputee Camps in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and back home in historical Black neighborhoods in the South USA.

Through the Yang Center for Bionics, Francesca focuses her work in Sierra Leone to build a sustainable care and delivery model that will multiply the production of prosthetic limbs and strengthen the country’s prosthetic sector, designed with and for Sierra Leoneans with… View full description

Francesca 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, she focuses on making prosthetic sectors more equitable domestically and internationally on a systemic level by designing tools that improve access to and translation of prosthetic technologies. In three terms, she summarizes her work as touching upon health equity, global health systems and technology translation.

She travels often to conduct fieldwork and learn from patients' stories-- visiting communities globally from prosthetic clinics in Jordan close to the Syrian border, to indigenous tribes in remote areas of Sonora, Mexico, to rural War Amputee Camps in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and back home in historical Black neighborhoods in the South USA.

Through the Yang Center for Bionics, Francesca focuses her work in Sierra Leone to build a sustainable care and delivery model that will multiply the production of prosthetic limbs and strengthen the country’s prosthetic sector, designed with and for Sierra Leoneans with disabilities.

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 analytic - implementing health economic metrics to capture patients’ unmet financial burdens.

Prior to pursuing her PhD at MIT, Francesca was educated in 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 then completed her Master’s Degree at SDA Bocconi in Milan studying Health Economics and Policy, specializing in global health development for access and health technology translation.

Afterwards, she was hired as a Research Specialist in the MIT Media Lab, where she worked to document communities  who were medically neglected in prosthetic care and, together with her mentor Dr. Hugh Herr, envisioned ways to improve care for people with amputation around the world.