Students Create Bridge Between Business and Health Care-Faculty & Staff News - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Students Create Bridge Between Business and Health Care

Carnegie Mellon doesn’t have a medical school, but that doesn’t stop students from working on health care solutions.

From bioengineering to quality of life technology, collaborations abound.

The latest, the Industry Academics Clinicians Together (IACT), is the brainchild of graduate students in the Tepper School of Business and the College of Engineering.

IACT brings together Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh graduate students from a variety of schools and majors to focus on ideas for new or improved health care technologies.

Their approach to problem solving is unique in that it addresses the multiple dimensions of clinical technology: the science, the technology and business sense.

“There wasn’t a strong focal point for health care in Pittsburgh with all of its resources,” said Daniel Bishop, a student in the joint medical scientist training program between Carnegie Mellon and Pitt. “I got into medicine in the first place because I am passionate about using engineering and my own knowledge to help others.”

Bishop who will receive a master’s in biomedical engineering and a medical degree and two other students, James Wolfe and Jeffrey Mataya decided to create the organization for people interested in the technological and business aspects of the healthcare industry.

“We take a market-centric focus on problems rather than trying to retrofit technology into a particular problem,” Mataya said.

Founded last August, the group has had more than 120 students and professionals attend workshops and networking events.

“This is a grassroots organization. It is driven at the student level. Our success thus far is only as good as the engagement we receive,” Bishop said. “Our future success depends on future engagement from our community.”

IACT also has attracted supporters and sponsors such as The Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) Center and the Donald H. Jones Entrepreneurship at Tepper’s School of Business.

One mentor has been QoLT Executive Director Jim “Oz” Osborn. He helped the students make IACT a reality and inspired them to focus on technology innovations for older or disabled adults. IACT’s current theme is “Health care Technologies for an Aging America.”

“Our work is fundamentally about technology development but it is informed by clinicians, sociologists and other practitioners who better understand the target populations that we are making the technology for, and those are people with disabilities and older adults. All three ingredients, the clinical side, the technological side, and the business side are equally important to our center,” Osborn said. “Hence, IATC fits our mission perfectly. In fact, it’s almost a mirror of the work that we do.”

Mataya said one of the group’s goals is to have mentors to help get ideas off the ground.

“He said the group wants to develop the workshops to be a place where people could come and pitch ideas that could spur innovation. “Maybe two of the four people in the group will decide, ‘Wow, I’d really like to run with this and see if it
can work,’” Mataya said.

For information about IACT and upcoming events, visit http://iactpgh.com/.

By: Maria Zayas