Hacking for Health
Around 60 creative minds have signed up to spend this coming weekend brainstorming solutions to health care problems at the first annual Health Hackathon presented by the University of New Mexico Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC).
The competition, which starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 18, on the UNM Health Sciences campus and runs through 2 p.m. Sunday, May 20, calls for UNM scientists, engineers, health care providers and students to divide up into teams to come up with designs to address urgent issues in health care.
The program will kick off in the North Wing of the Domenici Center for Health Sciences Education with those who have signed up to pitching the problems they want to solve, whether by creating an invention, a new app or an instruction manual.
The participants will break up into three-to-five-member teams and spend all day Saturday and Sunday morning working with mentors to hack solutions and develop prototypes of their ideas. UNM staffers will help them create models using software and high-tech 3-D printers, along with more prosaic materials, like pipe cleaners, construction paper, modeling clay and glue.
The teams will make “elevator pitches” for their proposed solutions Sunday afternoon to a three-member panel of judges. With the help of pilot awards from the CTSC of up to $10,000 apiece, the teams with the winning designs will have a year to further develop their ideas in hopes of creating marketable products.
“A competitive event like the Health Hackathon is a great way to tap into the creativity and ingenuity of people with diverse backgrounds and fresh insights,” said Richard S. Larson, MD, PhD, executive vice chancellor at the UNM Health Sciences Center. “We want them to help us find novel solutions to the many challenges we face in health care.”
The CTSC is mounting the event in collaboration with STC.UNM, the university’s technology transfer arm, and the Center for Innovation in Health and Education, headed by Robert G. Frank, PhD, professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine. Cosponsors include the UNM School of Engineering and the Colleges of Pharmacy and Nursing.