Sep 30 2015

NYU Pitches Ideas for Healthcare Innovation

by Matt Murphy


photo by NYUEI

For the past several months, the NYU Biotech Association was one of many groups working closely with the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute to organize the NYU Healthcare Innovation Makerthon Pitch Night. The event featured twenty members from the NYU community, selected from nearly 300 applications, each of whom presented problems in the areas of healthcare and medical research which they felt were ripe for innovation.

The broad range of topics covered in the pitches represented the diversity of the presenting group, which covered the entire healthcare spectrum, from PhD, medical, and nursing students to professors and medical directors.

In many instances, there was a call for new or improved technology. Physical therapist Isabelle Matejovsky shared a need for improvement in today’s oxygen saturation monitors. In some cases, however, the technology was part of the problem. Nursing student Debra Drillings highlighted an opportunity to improve organization of the many tubes and wires that connect patients to life-saving drugs and equipment to improve patient mobility, while Stern MBA student Casey Clark discussed his idea to sanitize cell phones to prevent infections.


Stern MBA student Casey Clark photo by NYUEI

Several other themes emerged from the evening. Medical student Milesh Patel and surgery resident Matthew Katz each presented opportunities to share patient-level data between healthcare systems. Another theme was how care providers locate each other and their patients. A reliable way to track patients and care providers throughout the hospital would save time and improve patient care.

At the end of the night, the audience voted for their favorite pitch. The audience and panel of expert judges were asked to select the pitches that were both feasible and had a significant potential for impact, not just at NYU but across the entire healthcare system. Ten pitches were selected to move forward to Phase II of the Makerthon, where multidisciplinary teams will collaborate to develop solutions to address the unmet needs and innovation opportunities raised by the presenters. (The full list of winners will be posted shortly on the Makerthon website.)

In addition to the pitches, the audience was also treated to a keynote address from Bryan Spielman, Executive Vice President of Medidata Solutions, a NYC-based healthcare technology company that works with life sciences clients to improve clinical trial efficiency. In his talk, Bryan discussed how new technologies, such as mobile fitness trackers, are altering the landscape of drug development and healthcare delivery. He also highlighted Medidata as an example of how an idea that started by noticing an inefficiency in healthcare delivery can turn into a multi-billion dollar business.

The audience also heard from sponsors Pfizer and Stryker, who highlighted some of the important bottlenecks they noticed in healthcare, and what their companies were doing to address them.

By the end of the night, the crowd was already anticipating the next steps of the Makerthon. Sujash Chatterjee, an associate research scientist at the Perlmutter Cancer Center, was enthusiastic about the opportunity to work on new problems. "It was very interesting to hear about more patient-focused problems that we often don't see in the lab, and I'm looking forward to working on developing solutions that can directly improve patient care."

This sentiment was shared by Vanguel Trapkov, a PhD student and President of the NYU Biotech Association. "It's been exciting to see a strong response from the research community. The Makerthon is an extraordinary opportunity to be part of the emergence of start-up companies aiming at developing solutions to real healthcare problems.Even if you're not part of a team, it is a great way to learn about Healthcare entrepreneurship since it's a true reflection of the ever-growing entrepreneurship spirit of NYC. I'm hopeful that the PhD students and Postdocs at NYULMC will take advantage of it."

Phase II of the Healthcare Innovation Makerthon will take place November 13-15 on the Washington Square campus, and will be open to all members of the NYU community. We hope to see you there!


Pitch Winners, photo by NYUEI

A special thank you to the judges:

Dr. Milena Adamian - Executive Director of the Life Science Angel Network

Dr. Andrew Brotman - Senior Vice President of NYULMC

Julio Corredor - Director of Worldwide Innovation at Pfizer

Chad Evans - Senior Marketing Director at Stryker Endoscopy

Sapna W. Palla - Partner at Wiggin and Dana LLP