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Needs Finding in Healthcare

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Are you on an engineering pathway, but trying to decide if opportunities in healthcare might be of interest to you? Or, are you committed to a career in healthcare, but eager to explore how to incorporate technology innovation into your plans? In either case, Needs Finding in Healthcare is the Sophomore College for you!

Many courses offered during the regular academic year provide students with the opportunity to understand healthcare problems and invent new technologies to address them. But none give undergraduates the chance to observe the delivery of healthcare in the real world and identify important unmet needs for themselves…until now! 

Needs Finding in Healthcare is a Sophomore College course offered by the Stanford Biodesign program. We’re looking for students who are passionate about innovation and interested in how technology can be applied to help make healthcare better for patients everywhere. Over approximately three weeks, you’ll spend time:

  • Learning the fundamentals of the biodesign innovation process for health technology innovation
  • Performing first-hand observations of care delivery in the Stanford’s hospital and clinics to identify compelling unmet needs
  • Conducting background research and interacting with physicians and patients to understand and prioritize those needs
  • Brainstorming and building early-stage prototypes to enhance your understanding of the unmet need and critical requirements for solving it

In addition, you’ll meet experienced innovators from the health technology field and explore different career pathways in this dynamic space. Join us if you want to make a difference at the intersection of medicine and engineering!

Important Logistics

Over the summer, students will need to work with Stanford Biodesign to gain medical clearance to perform observations in the Stanford Hospital and Clinics. This will involve completing required paperwork, submitting vaccination records and getting new vaccines if necessary, and making a trip to the School of Medicine badging office. Complete instructions and important deadlines will be provided upon acceptance into the program. There will also be a few hours of additional reading/pre-work

Meet the Instructors

James Wall

Associate Professor of Surgery (Pediatric Surgery) and, by Courtesy, of Bioengineering

Dr. James Wall is a pediatric surgeon who focuses on minimally-invasive approaches to children’s surgery. He is an alumnus of the Stanford Biodesign Innovation Fellowship. His research focuses on how to educate others to design and develop health technology, as well as on flexible endoscopic surgery in children. He has developed multiple health technologies including a novel epidural needle, a protection device for umbilical catheters, and a wearable leg compression system. James currently holds the roles of director of Program Development for the Stanford Biodesign Innovation and Policy Fellowships and PI of the UCSF-Stanford Pediatric Device Consortium. James graduated from Tulane University with an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and has a masters in bioengineering from Stanford. He attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and completed a general surgery residency training program at the University of California, San Francisco. He completed a fellowship in minimally invasive surgery at the IRCAD institute in France followed by a Pediatric Surgery fellowship at Stanford.

Lyn Denend

Academic Prog Prof Mgr, School of Medicine - MDRP'S - Biodesign Program

Lyn Denend

I stumbled into the health technology innovation field, but now am passionate about how technology can be used to improve health and healthcare for people everywhere. After completing an MBA, I worked as a management consultant focusing on strategy and organizational change management projects for large companies. Eventually, to get off the road, I took a job at the Stanford GSB developing case studies and multimedia teaching materials in collaboration with faculty. That’s how I met the Stanford Biodesign team, who needed teaching materials for their fellowship and classes. Over the next few years, the class notes we developed grew into a textbook and video series that are now used around the world in both university and corporate programs. Now, I’m the director for academic programs at Stanford Biodesign, where I develop curriculum and teach undergraduate and graduate students who want to make a difference through health technology. Personally, I enjoy yoga, walking my dog, and spending time with people who are interesting, hardworking, and fun!

Ross Venook 

Senior Lecturer of Bioengineering

Ross is a Senior Lecturer in the Bioengineering department and he directs Engineering at the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign.

Ross co-leads three undergraduate courses at Stanford—an instrumentation lab (BIOE123) and an open-ended capstone design lab sequence (BIOE141A/B)—and he supports other courses and runs hands-on workshops in the areas of prototyping and systems engineering related to medical device innovation. He enjoys the unique challenges and constraints offered by biomedical engineering projects, and he delights in the opportunity for collaborative learning in a problem-solving environment.

An Electrical Engineer by training (Stanford BS, MS, PhD), Ross’ graduate work focused on building and applying new types of MRI hardware for interventional and device-related uses. Following a Biodesign Innovation fellowship, Ross helped to start the MRI safety program at Boston Scientific Neuromodulation, where he continues working across the MRI safety community to create and improve international standards and to enable safe MRI access for patients with implanted medical devices.