Hack of a Good Idea!

I have been inspired this week by the many conversations I’ve had about collaboratively innovating, creating and problem solving. At my Open House for the Licensing & Ventures Group, faculty, students and staff had an opportunity to share some really fascinating ideas and talk at length about advancing innovation. I’m very pleased that the Licensing & Ventures Group will be more readily accessible to SOM faculty and staff by having an office in our space. Stay tuned for the details to be announced later this month. If you are not familiar with UVA Innovations, take a minute to visit their website, http://innovation.virginia.edu/. This is an exciting group to get to know!

I also attended a meeting in which physicians and engineers of all kinds (systems, chemical, materials, and more) discussed an infection-control problem. The problem solving that occurred within two-hours was mind-boggling. It’s amazing to witness the power of bringing together brilliant people with different technical expertise.

Two of our second-year medical students, Blake Niccum and Eric Vess, told me about their recent experience of disruptive innovation at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Hackathon (http://disruptingmedicine.org/collaboration-series-events/2014-hackathon/). I’m fascinated with hackathons – events that bring people together for one or two days for intense problem solving and creation.

Serendipity is a funny thing. No sooner had I heard about this hackathon than I learned of the UVA-hosted and student-led Hoos Health Hack, Oct. 10-12, Charlottesville’s second annual medical hackathon. This looks fantastic – and also offers opportunities for mentorships! http://www.hoohub.org/project/medical-hackathon/

Some have suggested that the SOM and UVA Innovations should host such an event. What do you think? Should we host a hackathon? If we do, what problem(s) or subject(s) should be the focus?

Nancy E. Dunlap, MD, PhD, MBA
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science