Forecast is for a Summer of Learning at Fogarty Innovation 

by | Jun 15, 2022 | Alliances, Diversity

Summers are a busy and exciting time at Fogarty Innovation as we work with a number of like-minded organizations to introduce high school and college students to the many opportunities life sciences offers.

“We always look forward to the energy these programs bring to our organization as we help introduce creative young minds to the field of medtech innovation,” says Marga Ortigas-Wedekind, Fogarty Innovation chief commercial strategy officer. “There’s nothing quite like igniting a spark that may become a full-fledged passion to help improve patients’ lives.”

Among the activities that will resume this summer are the well-established Lefteroff Internship program, now in its ninth year, the Stanford High School program and the Diversity by Doing Healthtech (DxD) Innovation and Exploration Series. 

Here’s a brief overview of these exciting programs, which we will cover in more depth following their conclusion.

Lefteroff Summer Internship

The Lefteroff Internship, which honors former board member and avid Fogarty Innovation supporter Tracy Lefteroff, is designed to cultivate and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators in life sciences by providing college students with real-world, hands-on experience and mentoring. Over the eight-week program, the interns learn, work and network with Fogarty entrepreneurs and staff members, along with outside industry experts and physicians. One highlight is spending a day at the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign to learn how to identify unmet needs.

This year, students had the opportunity to submit a brief video sharing more about themselves and why they were interested in the internship, and the Fogarty Innovation team subsequently selected 15 students from a very competitive field. The students hail from a diverse array of universities including Duke University; University of Michigan; University of California, Merced; Stanford University; Dartmouth; Georgia Institute of Technology and Vanderbilt, among others. Similarly, a variety of majors are represented including electrical and computer engineering, biology, biomedical engineering, management and business economics. 

“The caliber of the participants in the Lefteroff Internship never ceases to amaze us,” says Denise Zarins, Fogarty Innovation’s chief operations officer. “Our goal is to fuel their passion for our industry by giving them the opportunity to explore every facet of the medtech ecosystem. We are proud of how many of them have moved on to industry positions in larger companies, startups as well as med schools.”

Stanford High School Program 

For a second year, Fogarty is partnering with Stanford University for the two-week Surgical Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This program is designed to introduce high school students to the intriguing world of medical innovation, drawing themes from clinical medicine, engineering design and business principles. 

The curriculum includes an overview of innovation in healthcare; discussions about current challenges in different surgical specialties; the biodesign process for needs-based innovation; design thinking; the future of robotics surgery; advice on business plans; an introduction to intellectual property; and best practices in creating a pitch deck, which will end in a “Shark Tank” style project competition. Fogarty personnel will lend their expertise as they lead classes.

New this year, Fogarty Innovation is also partnering with Stanford on their Equity in Medicine course, in an effort to promote DEI in medicine.

Diversity by Doing Healthtech (DxD)

Increasing diversity is an important goal of the healthtech industry, which was the inspiration for the Summer Innovation and Exploration series. Now in its second year, the program is for college students interning at health technology companies who identify as female and/or Black, Latinx or Indigenous. The Series will be held in-person, over two days at Fogarty Innovation and Stanford Biodesign. 

The Innovation and Exploration Series features lecture-style presentations, small group activities and hands-on learning to help the students explore career trajectories and learn about running a company. Sessions will introduce a wide variety of skills from networking to finance, ending with a “speed mentoring” event, where interns will have the opportunity to participate in one-on-one conversations with health technology executives. 

“Our efforts to diversify the healthtech industry will pay dividends not only for these talented young people and the organizations that hire them, but for the community at large, which will benefit from the more inclusive products and services that result from more diverse companies,” said Ingrid Ellerbe, executive director of DxD HealthTech. “We look forward to building a community of support for these diverse interns that will help them succeed in the future.” 

DxD offers programs to improve diversity all along the talent pipeline – from a Pathways program that introduces community college students to health technology, all the way to a free DEIB series that helps small and mid-size healthtech companies operationalize diversity in their organization.

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