Jessica Hudak, a former Stanford BioDesign Fellow currently serves as President of Stanford Biodesign Alumni and spoke on how the Biodesign program works at the Bio2DeviceGroup (www.bio2devicegroup.org) meeting on Tuesday, November 29, 2011.
Hudak shared how the process works at Stanford BioDesign program, where the fellows work in small teams of about 4 members, within a specific clinical area. These multidisciplinary teams may include engineers, scientists, business professionals, physicians etc. and they work in a collaborative environment through a loosly structured process that begins with need identification. After they identify several hundred needs, they pare them down to a select few to work with. Each of these needs generate several hundred concepts which are then pared down to a fewer number. Needs are validated through clinical observation as these fellows get extensive access to operating rooms, clinicians, and patients. The needs are also validated through literature reviews, discussion with experts, and guidance from the advisors and mentors. The teams then brainstorm possible solutions. Often within the short time frame of 10-12 months, the teams also come up with a prototype and file provisional patents.
The founders of this program themselves are not just academicians but are entrepreneurs. Paul Yock is the inventor of the Rapid Exchange balloon angioplasty system and other medical technologies, and Josh Makower is the co-founder of Acclarent which was bought by J&J, last year. This problem-based and solution-driven multidisciplinary approach at Stanford BioDesign program, has led to some phenomenal success stories. Hudak shared some of these examples. For instance, iRhythm Technologies for help in the diagnosis of arrhythmias, was founded by 2006 Biodesign fellow, Uday Kumar; InnoSpine, targeting back pain, was co-founded by David Miller, a 2002 fellow; Acumen, a cardiovascular drug-delivery company, was co-founded by Eversull & Mourlas, 2002 BioDesign fellows. These are just a few examples. Stanford BioDesign program gets the best minds together, who are accepted into the program after rigorous screening process, and then they are offered all the ingredients to come up with a successful, commercializable technology. Even those teams who may not commercialize the technologies they work on during their tenure, learn unforgettable lessons in entrepreneurship, team-work, collaboration and innovation to take forward into their professional lives. Hopefully these fellows will instill into the industry innovation coming from strong teams collaborating on solution-driven projects, that we so often see lacking.