From Hands-On Projects to Life Advice, Lefteroff Interns Thrive

by | Aug 26, 2022 | Education, Lefteroff Internship

It was another successful summer at Fogarty Innovation, with 14 interns joining the esteemed Lefteroff internship program, that brings college students from around the United States to participate in an eight-week, hands-on program designed to cultivate and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators in life sciences.

“Once again the application process was very competitive, as students vie for the opportunity to work closely with our companies-in-development and learn from the best in the field,” said Denise Zarins, Fogarty Innovation chief operations officer. “Each year we are fortunate to share this fascinating industry with a cadre of talented, passionate and driven students who are eager to learn as much as they can and explore fulfilling career paths that will allow them to make a difference in the healthcare space.” 

The multi-faceted program revolves around four cornerstones –a core curriculum that provides a deeper understanding of how to take a medical device from inception to market; working closely with a Fogarty Innovation company or staff member; interacting with professionals and touring companies within the Silicon Valley medtech ecosystem; and learning first-hand from medical professionals by shadowing clinicians in a variety of specialties. 

This year, the group had the opportunity to hear from Mark Galletti, managing director of Longitude Capital; Rob Binney, former CEO of Alydia Health; Krista Donaldson, founder and CEO of Equalize Health; and Ginger Pigott, shareholder of GreenbergTraurig. In addition, the interns spent a day learning about the innovation process at Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, and toured companies and organizations of different sizes and scopes, including Abbott and EchoPixel, a Fogarty graduate. The interns also participated in a variety of social activities to learn from one another and bond as a class. 

Here are the experiences of four interns we had the opportunity to catch up with: 

Mannat Dhaliwal, Studying Healthcare Management and Policy Management at Georgetown University with a Fellowship in Sustainable Business

Mannat worked with Chronus Health conducting market and competitor analyses to help determine where the biggest need and market demand is, including identifying new opportunities for Chronus’ current technology and potential future uses. Following this project, she took a deeper dive into the three primary target markets to perform a thorough market sizing analysis. 

“This was right up my alley because I’m interested in healthcare from the business side and these complementary projects showed me a lot of different facets. The Chronus team was really helpful, answering all my questions and always making themselves available, and I also enjoyed the one-on-one talks with Fogarty staff members to learn about their career paths,” she said. In addition, she was able to see firsthand the importance of networking as she observed how professionals in the medtech industry stay connected throughout their careers, even as their paths take them in different directions.

Alex (AJ) Sheinberg, Studying Biology with a Minor in Sociology of Health and Medicine at University of Michigan 

Alex worked with Boomerang Medical on multiple projects, including gathering data from preexisting literature for calculating end points for their clinical trials, then on an IP project where he learned to use common industry databases such as CMS and Patsnap. He enjoyed the variety as he felt it accurately reflected the way people in startups have to dive in on all different fronts.

The field trips were eye-opening in their diversity – from spending a day experiencing a condensed version of the Stanford Biodesign process to seeing devices in use at Abbott. “I wasn’t aware of the breadth of the medtech field – how many moving parts there are and different avenues and opportunities for people,” he said. “I always thought I wanted to be a physician, but this internship exposed me to an entirely new field that’s super interesting and engaging. I’d always thought of physicians as being able to affect so many lives, but when someone like Dr. Fogarty comes up with a device, they can touch exponentially more lives.”

Samantha (Sam) Mallahan, Studying Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University

During Sam’s time at Fogarty she worked with Materna Medical helping design a new test fixture used for warranty and verification testing that decreased the time needed to complete testing from five days to 36 hours due to the incorporation of an internal charging feature, as well as additional features that increased its customizability.

“The breadth and exposure this internship provided is unlike any other program that exists. I appreciated that the interns all come at this shared interest from different perspectives – business majors, pre-med students and engineers,” she said. “I knew I would learn a lot, but I didn’t know I would learn as much ‘lifewise’ as I did. Everybody advised us not to worry or stress about our path, but to lean into what clicks. It was also fascinating to learn what’s really involved with startups – that you can have the best technology in the world, but if you don’t have the right commercial strategy or understand the market, it’s not going it make it.”

Cameron (Cam) Binney, Studying Business Analytics and Finance at Auburn University

Cam was also with Boomerang Medical, focusing on business-related projects. First was a competitive analysis on a company that recently went public, looking back at its earnings calls and statements and building a PowerPoint for the Boomerang employees and investors that tracked its finances and growth. Then they brainstormed creative ideas for enrolling patients during a clinical trial.

“One aspect I really enjoyed was shadowing surgeries because it’s not typically something I would do as a business major,” he said. “The internship also introduced me to the world of healthcare venture capital, which is something that intrigues me. The program taught me a lot about things you wouldn’t necessarily learn in school, like about being an entrepreneur, but also life advice as we heard about the different careers.”

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