Aspiring innovators aim to transform medicine with the next big idea

As a resident in inside medicine, Ramez Barsoom, M.D., is commonly contemplating methods to enhance healthcare, however inspiration struck at some point as he was doing an bizarre family chore. While utilizing instruments to mount a TV on the wall, he received an idea for a brand new medical gadget to simplify the detection of pneumonia in sufferers’ lungs.

Image of Ramez Barsoom, M.D.
Ramez Barsoom, M.D.

Dr. Barsoom, who got here to Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education final 12 months as an M.D. with a grasp’s diploma in engineering, started noodling about growing the gadget. “I typically keep an innovation journal where I jot down all the different ideas that come to me, ” he says. “Periodically, I set aside time to review each idea individually and assess whether the clinical need warrants a solution and hasn’t been addressed before.”

As a inventive problem-solver who’s keen to discover new concepts, Dr. Barsoom just isn’t alone. He is amongst many trainees at Mayo Clinic who, whereas studying the craft of their careers, are additionally strategizing about methods to transform healthcare. Several applications at Mayo are serving to these enterprising inventors ask the proper questions and take the steps to deliver their progressive concepts to market.

Innovating step-by-step

Dr. Barsoom shortly realized his idea addressed an necessary medical want. Pneumonia stays a major health situation worldwide, and diagnosing it typically includes X-rays, which can be too pricey for communities with few sources.

One of the first challenges he confronted was engineering a model of his gadget. (Dr. Barsoom and different Mayo innovators cannot share too many particulars about their innovations, that are nonetheless in growth.) He was in a position to study the steps concerned in gadget growth from the Mayo Clinic Innovation Exchange, a useful resource that connects inventors with consultants from healthcare, engineering and enterprise. Drawing on his engineering background, he labored out a fundamental design and carried out an preliminary sequence of experiments to check the idea. 

According to Mary Hedges, M.D., program director for inside medicine residency in Florida, innovation is an essential focus in the training of recent physicians. The residency program is amongst the first in the nation to add a proper innovation curriculum to doctor training. “This is the future of medicine,” she says. “Our residency aims to provide trainees with exposure to innovation, whether it’s just an introduction or more in-depth opportunities for those who intend to make it part of their careers.” 

Taking the stage to pitch the idea

As Dr. Barsoom’s idea moved ahead, he utilized to pitch it at a contest hosted by the Office of Entrepreneurship: the Alligator Tank in Florida, one in every of Mayo’s healthcare innovation-launching occasions that happen on every campus. (Inventors on the Rochester campus take part in the Walleye Tank; these in Arizona be a part of the Scorpion Tank.)

The format of the occasions is comparable to the TV present Shark Tank, by which inventors describe new merchandise in below two minutes to a panel of judges. The panel — on this case, a staff of Mayo clinicians and innovation consultants — asks questions after which votes on a winner.

“Some of the winning ideas from previous years are now products on the market or are in clinical trials,” says Charles Bruce, M.B., Ch.B., chief innovation officer in Florida.

Ultimately, Dr. Barsoom’s presentation was amongst a number of that impressed the judges. He received a money prize of $2,500. His mission additionally earned a grant from the Mayo Clinic Innovation Exchange, which paired him with an exterior engineering firm to additional develop the gadget.

“The next steps involve transforming my preliminary bench-tested solution into a minimum viable prototype and ultimately developing clinical trials that are necessary to test it,” he says.

Creating instruments to make physicians’ lives simpler

Francis Shue was excited when she realized she could be onto a big idea that would doubtlessly be the foundation of a startup firm.  As a Ph.D. scholar at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Shue research Alzheimer’s illness in the lab of neuroscientist Takahisa Kanekiyo, M.D., Ph.D. Alongside her bench analysis, her curiosity was piqued by synthetic intelligence.

Working with the lab’s collaborators at Carnegie Mellon, she started to discover a facet mission, utilizing AI to manage sufferers’ X-rays and different imaging assessments. “My idea started out completely in the research sphere,” she says. “We wanted to create something to make physicians’ lives easier.”

Image of Francis Shue
Francis Shue

As she explored additional, the idea appeared to have potential as a enterprise. To find out how to take her idea to the next stage, she signed up for a sequence of lessons provided by the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship. The lessons launched her to market and buyer analysis and helped her establish a audience for the product. The workplace additionally helped join her to executives in business, whom she interviewed to proceed growing her product.

Though she did not win a prize for her pitch at the Alligator Tank, she is emphatic about the worth of the expertise and the way a lot she discovered alongside the means. “I was able to get a lot of insider knowledge, hone my business skills and make many wonderful connections,” says Shue. She now goals to have a profession that includes discovery, innovation and enterprise.

Image of Hiva Lee, M.D.
Hiva Lee, M.D.

“The Tank events can help fast-track the innovation and the inventor,” says Maarten Rotman, Ph.D., Entrepreneurial Education Manager of the Office of Entrepreneurship, who hosts the occasion and helps individuals put together their pitches. “Most importantly, the students take on a new mindset as they conceive of their approach to developing a product and how to present it.”

Internal medicine resident Hiva Lee, M.D., agrees. Opportunities like the Alligator Tank enabled him to develop the idea for a tool that goals to scale back in-hospital infections.

“There are inevitably bumps along the road when developing a product,” he says. “I’m in the middle of one now, as I’m trying to navigate the many paths to funding, research and development—so stay tuned!”

A brand new gadget to examine most cancers

Image of Alex Bechtle
Alex Bechtle

Alex Bechtle was in a position to soar proper in as an inventor thanks to alternatives at Mayo. A number of years in the past, whereas nonetheless an undergraduate majoring in biomedical engineering, she spent just a few summers finding out mind most cancers in the labs of neurosurgeons Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D. and Kaisorn Chaichana, M.D. The analysis groups turned fascinated about utilizing a 3-D printer to develop a brand new device to visualize the distinctive attributes of metastasizing mind most cancers cells. Using ideas from her undergraduate lessons, Bechtle designed and developed the prototype, which the researchers instantly put to use.

Now a third-year scholar at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Bechtle discovered extra alternatives to develop the abilities inventors want. She fine-tuned a presentation about the 3-D printed gadget and first pitched it at the Alligator Tank in 2019. With new developments, she pitched it once more in 2020, successful the crowd favourite award from the viewers. Amid her medical college lessons, she additionally took half in a week-long biomedical innovation “selective,” one in every of the medical college’s distinctive training programs on a specialised matter.

Though she is exploring making the code for the 3-D printed gadget freely out there to researchers, Bechtle says the alternatives to study innovation all through her training have made her much more alert to new concepts. “I do have the perspective of how can we improve a system or how can we improve a tool — and also that it’s essential to connect with others to discuss ideas and find ways to innovate,” she says.

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