There were proud moments, memories and farewells as the eight TMC Biodesign fellows celebrated their graduation this week from the TMC Innovation Institute program.
“This has been an amazing program due to the eight incredible people who are part of the first class of Biodesign fellows,” said Erik Halvorsen, Ph.D., director of the TMC Innovation Institute, in kicking off the awards ceremony. “You will always be part of our community.”
The fellows came from diverse backgrounds and were selected from more than 500 applications to create digital health solutions and new medical devices as part of the Biodesign process, an established methodology for streamlining innovation developed by Paul Yock, M.D., at Stanford University.
The TMC Biodesign program is run by associate directors Farzad Soleimani, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and Eric Richardson, Ph.D., a lecturer in the Department of Bioengineering and director of the Global Medical Innovation Masters Program at Rice University.
Both Soleimani and Richardson were pleased with the outcome of the program’s first year, and thanked the fellows for their patience as the two worked to evolve the program.
The medical device fellows created IntuiTap Medical, a company that is now over in the TMCx accelerator working on its handheld device that eliminates the guesswork from spinal taps. The company includes Jessica Traver, CEO, Nicole Moskowitz, chief technology officer, Xavier Garcia-Rojas, chief medical officer, and Yashar Ganjeh, executive vice president.
“Being able to rotate in the hospitals and having a setting to meet physicians and observe their needs first-hand is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Traver said.
William E. Cohn, M.D., director of the Center for Technology and Innovation, associate director of laboratory surgery research in the Center for Cardiac Support and director of the Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratory at the Texas Heart Institute, was a mentor to IntuiTap. He is also a professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and an adjunct professor of bioengineering at both Rice University and the University of Houston.
“It is inspiring to see so many smart people at this point in their career,” he said. “Watching them put their business plan together, I learned as much as they did.”
Meanwhile, the digital health follows settled on helping to improve nurse engagement and retention. They developed a mobile platform to address four components: shift scheduling, employee recognition and rewards, continuous feedback and secure messaging.
“Coming from New York, it opened my eyes to be part of the Texas Medical Center,” said Shawn Dimantha, a digital health fellow.
During the one-year program the group went on a few adventures, including riding in the back of an ambulance to see what unmet needs Emergency Medical Technicians have.
Dimantha is moving on to the Peterson Center on Healthcare. His team included Dave Morris, who is working at TMCx alum startup, The Right Place, Jason Peterson is working at Quartet, a New York-based mental health care startup, and David Kim is at Zipdrug, a New York-based medication delivery startup.
The second Biodesign class began in August 2016, and they are currently doing an unmet needs assessment across the Texas Medical Center.
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