In Search of Solutions for Clinical Needs

A guest post by Joyanna Friedman and Julie Speer, who attended the Mack Institute’s pilot Innovation Clinic series in November and December of 2014.

As part of a Translational Design/Clinical Immersion internship, a collaboration between the School of Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), we are working to identify a project that fulfills an unmet clinical need.

To this end, we have spent three months on various clinical floors, prompted medical professionals to share their thoughts, and identified three clinical needs on a daily basis. We’ve brainstormed initial engineering designs, received feedback from our mentors, and met with experts for guidance on the ultimate direction of the project.

Innovation Clinic Day 2
Joyanna and Julie brainstorm ideas with a group during Innovation Clinic Day 2.

One of our program advisors, who is affiliated with both CHOP and Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, suggested that we register for the Innovation Clinics because of the way they dovetailed nicely with our program – innovating for a clinical setting, and ultimately creating a marketable product.

Attending these clinics was a wonderful way for us to learn about the topics from both an academic perspective and from the experiences shared by the attendees and presenters. As newcomers to the innovation process, one challenge we face is knowing how to continue generating potential solutions and knowing when to allow an idea to evolve — and when to let it go. But as we learned, it can take thousands of good ideas before finding the golden one, which, interestingly, may not even have seemed so golden at first.

We really enjoyed attending both sessions, and each gave us something new to think about. The innovation tournament gave us insights about teaching innovation and how to create an environment where any idea is potentially valuable. Perhaps implementing this concept into undergraduate engineering classrooms could shape the way that students learn to design.

The second clinic gave us perspective on the journey between initial concept and marketability. This prompted us to more rigorously consider the business side of engineering, which is often overlooked as part of the undergraduate engineering curriculum.

Read about Innovation Clinic Day 1 here.


Friedman, JoyannaAfter completing a French education, Joyanna Friedman came to Drexel University in 2011 to pursue a Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering. She since has performed two six-month internships including wound healing research in a translational laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, and engineering work for Rex Medical, a medical device company in Conshohocken, PA.


Speer, JulieJulie Speer is a Junior undergraduate student at Drexel University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering; she is also completing a certificate of Medical Humanities. She has held previous 6-month internships at Imaging Sciences International in Hatfield, PA and at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.

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