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Needs Finding in Healthcare

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

Several courses offered during the regular academic year provide students with the opportunity to understand healthcare problems and invent new technologies to address them. However, this is the only one that gives undergraduates the chance to directly observe the delivery of healthcare in the real world and identify important unmet needs for themselves. 

Needs Finding in Healthcare is a Sophomore College course offered by Stanford Biodesign. 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 need-driven biodesign innovation process for health technology innovation
  • Practicing how to conduct observations and shadow care providers to identify compelling unmet health-related needs, and then performing observations in Stanford’s emergency department, operating rooms, and clinics
  • Conducting background research and interacting with physicians and patients to understand and prioritize needs you have been identified
  • 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

Early in the summer, well before SoCo begins, 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 so that we can prioritize hands-on project work during class time.

Meet the Instructors

Kunj Sheth

Assistant Professor of Urology, Division of Pediatric Urology
Assistant Director, Faculty Fellowship, Stanford Biodesign
Co-Director, Impact1

After studying Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University as an undergraduate, I went on to complete my medical education. As I continued my training as a urologist, I found myself evaluating potential ways to innovate and solve clinical problems creatively. This drove me to go back to my foundations in engineering and problem solving and, accordingly, I have been working to combine my clinical interest in pediatric urology with my interests in Biodesign. During my pediatric urology fellowship, I worked on a series of Capstone Engineering Projects, one of which progressed to be a startup – Starling Medical – that serves as a home urine monitoring device. After coming to Stanford, I have become a part of the Stanford Biodesign ecosystem, as both assistant director of the faculty fellowship and co-director of Impact1, a group dedicated to bringing pediatric, fetal, and maternal technologies to market. Personally, I spend much of my free time traveling, dancing, and scuba diving.

Lyn Denend

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

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
Associate Director, Engineering, Stanford Biodesign

I am a Senior Lecturer in the Bioengineering department and I direct Engineering at the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign. I co-lead three undergraduate courses at Stanford—an instrumentation lab (BIOE123) and an open-ended capstone design lab sequence (BIOE141A/B)—and I support a variety of other courses and run hands-on workshops in the areas of early-stage prototyping and systems engineering related to medical device innovation. I enjoy the unique challenges and constraints offered by biomedical engineering projects, and I delight in opportunities for collaborative learning in a problem-solving environment. An Electrical Engineer by training (Stanford BS, MS, PhD), I was an undergraduate on the Farm when the SoCo program started—though I did not get to participate. My graduate work focused on building and applying new types of MRI hardware for interventional and device-related uses. Following a Biodesign Innovation fellowship, I helped to start the MRI safety program at Boston Scientific Neuromodulation, and I was a technical lead for that R&D group for 15 years.  I continued working across the MRI safety community to enable safe MRI access for patients with implanted medical devices. When not working on health technology innovation, I enjoy all types of outdoor activities around the Bay Area and beyond with family and friends.