Internship Program Gives Life-Long Lessons on the Innovative World of Medical Technology

by | Aug 5, 2015 | Diversity, Education, Fogarty Innovation, Lefteroff Internship, Mentoring, Thought Leadership

Silicon Valley is revered as a hot bed of innovation and the Fogarty Institute is at its epicenter – providing entrepreneurs, interns and fellows from all over the world with exposure to leading investors, corporations, physicians, hospitals, government officials and innovators in the medtech field.

As part of our education program, we offer interns and fellows from partner companies valuable exposure to these diverse experts, in addition to on-the-job experience, to offer the best potential for young students and professionals to hone in on their career skills and options.

This year we had the privilege of hosting 10 interns from throughout the U.S., and from several European and Asian countries. The internships are funded by our Lefteroff Fund and the students are selected by its advisory board.

The interns’ experience at the Institute was eye opening. “Never be comfortable. Always keep doing new things that make you wake up in the morning, but also sleep at night,” said Renee Ryan, VP of Investments at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, one of their mentors. The interns took her advice to heart.


The Lefteroff summer interns had an action packed and fruitful summer, thanks to the hard work of our office manager Gretchen Berstler

When the interns entered the Fogarty Institute program, they expected to learn about the field of medicine, gain insight into the different responsibilities within a startup, receive mentoring from industry leaders and understand the unique Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem.

They accomplished all that, and much more, thanks to our intensive, hands-on program. The interns learned the importance of finding a need in the medical field, then developing a solution; the benefits of working as a team to create a product; the value of drawing on passion as a daily motivator to overcome obstacles and stay on track; the payback inherent in challenging themselves every day; and the fact that while money is a perk, in the end, you work to improve patients’ lives.

During their eight-week stay at the Institute, the interns were each assigned to work with our startups and partner companies, and their experiences were broad and varied. They learned about the intraoperative approach to cleaning a surgical site in abdominal surgery; helped name a pelvic device and designed its case; created birthing device straps; designed and built a knee extension torque measurement device; worked on vein demonstration models; had hands-on experience with Samsung’s new health tracker technology; and generated mechanisms of muscle contraction in the gut; among many other opportunities.

They also learned from and were inspired by the best in field: Hanson Gifford, Managing Partner, the Foundry; Hank Plain, General Partner, Lightstone Ventures; Congresswoman Anna EshooDr. Vincent Gaudiani, Medical Director of the Norma Melchor Heart & Vascular Institute; Dr. Ken Drazan, head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation; and Mike Mussallem, CEO of Edwards Lifesciences, to name a few.

Most importantly, they learned life-long lessons that will help them create their own life-changing medical device technologies. And now they know how to get started: as Jessie Becker, founder of InPress Technologies, told them, “Always start with a real need that captures your imagination. Start with something that truly matters to you.”

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