Anderson Institute, School of Medicine host 'Present a Challenge Day'

E. Mark Haacke, Ph.D., speaks at the event.
E. Mark Haacke, Ph. D., speaks at the event.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine and James and Patricia Anderson Engineering Ventures Institute held the second “Present a Challenge Day” in Scott Hall, organized with the hope of finding and forming interdisciplinary collaborative teams to create and implement real-world solutions.

The Nov. 20 event was attended by more than 40 clinicians, engineers, biomedical scientists, entrepreneurs, technology innovators and state economic development staff, who gathered to hear opportunities for innovative, problem-solving partnerships.

The event, sponsored by Wayne State’s Office of Technology Commercialization, the School of Medicine, the College of Engineering and the Anderson Institute, included several presentations, each outlining specific “challenges.” Projects ranged from developing a portable electronic medical records system to use in transient medical clinics to creating bone “cement” to heal bones after injury. The attendees then discussed matching the scientists with people, technologies and approaches that could provide solutions.

Associate Dean for Graduate Programs Stanley Terlecky, Ph.D., co-organized the event for the School of Medicine.

Engineers, biomedical scientists and entrepreneurs listen to project presentations.
Engineers, biomedical scientists and entrepreneurs listen to project presentations.

“The event exceeded even our most ambitious goals – providing an outstanding opportunity to connect technology innovators with biomedical problems,” Dr. Terlecky said. “It needs to become an annual tradition.”

Projects identified during the event were eligible to participate in the newly launched WSU-Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization Program. The program funds the development and commercialization of biomedical devices and materials.

“This event is the first of an ongoing series of steps intended to bring together engineers and biomedical investigators so strong partnerships can be formed that combine their respective expertise to address complex research problems,” said Sorin Draghici, Ph.D., associate dean for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the College of Engineering and director of its Anderson Institute.

Sarah Draugelis talks about a portable electronic medical record system.
Sarah Draugelis talks about a portable electronic medical record system.

Once partnerships are formed, the teams will work together, either performing traditional research or creating startup companies. Two teams were expected to be identified at a later date to participate in an entrepreneurship program in Europe next July, supported by the Anderson Institute.

“This process of assembling multi-disciplinary research teams and turning them loose on problems is an exciting undertaking, and we intend to include students in the next ‘Challenge Day’ offering,” added Daniel Walz, Ph.D., associate dean of Research and Graduate Programs for the School of Medicine.