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Advancing Innovation in Dermatology (AID), Hacking Medicine Institute (HMi), and LEO Science & Tech Hub, the Boston-based R&D innovation unit of LEO Pharma, officially announce the final winners of Hacking Dermatology. Awardees include Lucid, a personalized and automated home patch testing solution, RxThat, an online prescription marketplace and management application, and MatchLab, a skin-image analysis service that provides image tracking and datasets for use in AI diagnostic models.
Hacking Dermatology, in a 12-month process, brought together clinical and scientific experts, patients, engineers, and innovators to reimagine the landscape of patient access to dermatological intervention. At the start of the initiative in April of this year, over 40 experts came together to identify the biggest challenges in this field. Next, over 120 participants and mentors formed 20 teams at a hackathon in June, where they spent three packed days learning about the challenges and developing solutions to address them. At the end of the hackathon, 5 teams were awarded $5,000 each to enter a condensed incubation period. During this time they honed their ideas, did market research, and fleshed out pitches.
In October, these teams came before a panel of expert judges to compete for $55,000 in grants. This final pitch competition in October was hosted by HMi and its affiliated organization MIT Hacking Medicine and was held at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. The top three teams were awarded these grants were entered into an acceleration period where they will receive mentorship and access to resources in order to advance their solutions to market.
The 1st place team, Lucid, is focused on at home patch testing for targeted allergies. One of the team’s co-founders, Sameer Gupta, spoke about the support his team received throughout the process, “Through the hackathon experience, we were able to reflect on inefficiencies in current allergy diagnostics, to imagine a more personalized and accessible solution, and to develop a viable product with maximal benefit for patients.”
Nick Rance, a co-founder of another one of the winning teams, reflected on the process, “Hacking Dermatology was instrumental in helping us conceptualize and develop MatchLab AI. They prioritized our mission and were extremely proactive in providing advice and sharing their knowledge. The partnership also helped us form important relationships with dozens of industry experts who have been critical to our development, which otherwise would not have been possible.”
Hacking Dermatology focused on challenges related to artificial intelligence in dermatology, diagnosis, measurement and evaluation of chronic skin disease, treatment costs, and topical delivery of medications. Over 40 mentors joined the project and each brought a critical, expert perspective on the identified challenges. James Allred, M.D., is the Chief Clinical Adviser of RxThat, another one of the three finalist teams. He described the nurturing environment that the initiative provided to boost team productivity: “Their mentorship helped refine our technology and service offerings for key stakeholders within the healthcare delivery ecosystem and further inspired our commitment to improving the patient journey for those living with skin disease.”
Hacking Dermatology was modeled on the Hacking Medicine Institute’s extended innovation program, and was the result of a productive partnership between AID, HMi, and LEO Science & Tech Hub. “The level of talent we witnessed among the participants validated our vision and goal of creating a blueprint for a hackathon tailored to our field of work,” said Alex Costa, Senior Technology and Innovation Manager of LEO Science & Tech Hub. “This event exceeded our expectations. Some truly great ideas were developed and choosing winners was not an easy process. We wish all of them luck as they continue their work.”
“Initiatives like Hacking Dermatology are of ever-growing importance to our field,” said Adam Raff, MD, PhD, Education Committee Member at Advancing Innovation in Dermatology and Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. “True innovation requires collective effort and it was inspiring to see such a diverse group of students and professionals come together to solve some of the industry’s most pressing issues.”
“LEO Science & Tech Hub and AID are both organizations that value open science and innovation and as a result, their businesses are structured around processes, support services and an overall mindset that helps maximize the potential of new ideas,” said Laura Duerksen, Executive Director of Hacking Medicine Institute. “In implementing the HMi pipeline of innovation, which involves a wide base of health system stakeholders and experts, we were able to successfully seed new ideas from the theme of the dermatological patient journey. We look forward to expanding on our relationship with AID and LEO in the future.”
About Hacking Medicine Institute + MIT Hacking Medicine
HMi is an educational 501c3 that practices and studies contemporary healthcare innovation, by working with industry and academic partners to organize hackathons and challenges and by studying the process of innovation and publishing on findings. These complimentary, parallel programs allow for the active progress of healthcare innovation through critical and evidenced based strategies.
MIT Hacking Medicine is a group founded at MIT in 2011, comprising of MIT students and community members, aimed at energizing the healthcare community and accelerating medical innovation. We accomplish this by carrying out health hackathons, design thinking workshops, and networking gatherings to teach healthcare entrepreneurship and develop digital strategies to scale medicine as a way to solve health problems worldwide. To date, the group has organized more than 150 events across 15 countries and 5 continents with over 40 companies, raising over $200M in venture funding.
About Advancing Innovation in Dermatology (AID)
Advancing Innovation in Dermatology (AID) is a non-profit organization committed to catalyzing the development of new solutions that can significantly improve skin health. Through multiple initiatives, activities, and actions, AID provides support, resources, and a nexus for individuals and organizations who are affecting change in dermatology by creating a next generation of innovative and impactful products.
About LEO Science & Tech Hub
The LEO Science & Tech Hub is an R&D innovation unit of LEO Pharma dedicated to identifying, developing, and funding innovative solutions that improve the lives of people with skin diseases. It was founded in 2016 as a catalyst to transform early-stage innovations into solutions for improving the lives of people with skin diseases. We collaborate, explore cutting-edge ideas and make investments. We are an agile group of scientific experts with an entrepreneurial mindset and a vision of how to give patients control over disease by predicting, diagnosing, and monitoring conditions. The LEO Science & Tech Hub is based in Cambridge, Mass.