Global Cancer Innovation Hack-a-thon

February 26-28, 2016 | Boston

Inspired by stories from the field and passionate about transforming cancer care around the world, more than 180 global health experts and innovators came together for a Global Cancer Innovation Hack-a-thon at MGH.

Over the course of two days, hack-a-thon participants formed cross-disciplinary teams of clinicians, engineers, entrepreneurs and designers to develop solutions to existing cancer challenges, particularly those afflicting patients in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). From low-cost screening devices to patient empowerment tools, participants created more than 20 innovations in 48 hours and presented their prototypes to a panel of judges.

Click here for the full event report!

Check out the winners

A total of $3,000 was awarded to winning teams in the following categories:

  • $1,000 First Place: Team Fever Finder – a new device to identify and treat sepsis for pediatric chemotherapy patients
  • $500 Most Implementable Technology: Team Wish List – a portal that connects global health providers with specific equipment and medical resources
  • $500 Most Innovative Solution: Team Vein Guard – a device to measure and control IV fluid during chemotherapy treatment
  • $500 Best Business Model: Team Shared Health – a patient-to-patient platform to expand access to cancer diagnostics in LMICs
  • $250 Uganda Prize: Team GCPP – a device for early cancer screening and diagnosis in Uganda
  • $250 India Prize: Team Alia-an oral accessory for patients with laryngeal cancer that assists with speech rehabilitation via smartphones

Day 1 – Friday, February 26, 2016

6:00 PM - 9:00 PMNetworking and Event Kick-off Event
Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital
2 N. Grove Street
Boston, MA. 02114

Day 2 – Saturday, February 27, 2016

8:00 AM - 9:00 AMRegistration; Breakfast; Networking
9:00 AM - 9:25 AMWelcome addresses from event organizers and sponsors
9:25 AM - 9:35 AMHack 101, Rules, Format, Judges, Prizes
9:35 AM - 9:45 AMBreak
9:45 AM - 11:00 AMVoices from the Field Panel Discussion
11:00 AM - 11:15 AMBreak
11:15 AM - 1:00 PMPitching challenges
1:00 PM - 1:30 PMHacking begins; Mentor overview
2:00 PMHack shop opens; mentor office hours begin
7:00 PMDinner
12:00 AMDeadline for team registration

Day 3 – Sunday, February 28, 2016

9:00 AMBreakfast; Hacking Continues
9:30 AMHack Shop Opens
10:00 AM - 12:00 PMPractice Pitch Sessions
1:00 PMLunch
1:30 PMHack Shop Closes
1:30 PMJudge Debrief/Overview
2:00 PMFinal Presentations Begin
3:45 PMBreak during Judges'€™ Deliberation
4:00 PM - 4:30 PMFeedback Session
4:30 PM - 5:00 PMPrizes & Closing Ceremony

These clinical challenges were sourced from our network of healthcare experts delivering cancer care around the world. Participants are welcome to work beyond what is listed below!

Theme - Prevention, Education, & Screening:
Lack of awareness of cancer and the presence of cultural stigmas may limit the number of people seeking care.
Many people in the developing world do not understand what cancer is and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. There are also many cultural stigmas associated with cancer that may lead to guilt and shame. What can we do to empower people living with cancer to seek treatment and/or a diagnosis?
Theme - Prevention, Education, & Screening:
Many people worldwide are increasing their risk of cancer by practicing health behaviors such as smoking, poor exercise, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables.
In 2010, the leading risk factors for global cancer disease burden were high blood pressure, tobacco smoke (including second-hand smoke), alcohol use, household air pollution, diets low in fruits and vegetables, and a high body-mass index. How can we better educate the public, especially those who have lower literacy, about how these poor lifestyle choices can increase the risk of several types of cancers later in life?
Theme - Prevention, Education, & Screening:
It is challenging to both prevent and screen for cervical cancer. Specifically, it is difficult to
  1. Vaccinate against viruses that are linked to cervical cancer on a large scale and
  2. To implement effective cervical cancer screening
Over 80% of cervical cancer cases occur in developing countries. The prevention of infection associated malignancies, including access to vaccines against HPV, and early detection for cervical cancer should be priorities. How can access to HPV vaccinations and cervical cancer screening be improved in the developing world?
Theme - Diagnosis & Treatment
Healthcare professionals in the developing world are often undertrained and understaffed in diagnosing and treating cancer patients.
There is an overall lack of physicians in the developing world who are trained as oncologists. They also often do not have the necessary clinical staff that is required to treat cancer using a strong team-based approach. What can we do to help train healthcare professionals to work collaboratively, deliver care with compassion, and to help them improve communication with the goal of reducing barriers to cancer care and reducing the burden of patient suffering?
Theme - Diagnosis & Treatment
Many cancer outpatients have problems with adhering to their chemotherapy treatment regimens.
Cancer therapy is toxic and must be administered safely and on schedule for it to be effective; however, patient loss to follow-up and missed appointments can be a major challenge in low resource settings. Given the constraints on provider time and resources, what systems can be put in place to ensure that patients in low resource settings receive their chemotherapy on schedule?
Theme - Diagnosis & Treatment
Many doctors working in smaller clinics in resource-limited settings often do not have the expertise to treat some of the more specific cancer types.
Cancer is a heterogeneous diagnosis, with many subtypes and classifications and expertise building can be challenging in places with small number of patients. Many doctors are faced with trying to treat cancers with which they have limited knowledge. What can be done to help doctors and nurses gain more knowledge and support to manage patients with unfamiliar cancers that requires a specific treatment approach?
Theme - Diagnosis & Treatment
Many hospitals in the developing world are lacking the necessary supplies to effectively treat a variety of different cancers.
The chemotherapy drugs, labs, and surgical equipment that are required or recommended for cancer diagnosis and treatment are often not present in many hospitals in resource poor countries. What can be done to improve patient access to these types of resources?
Theme - Diagnosis & Treatment
The capacity for patients to afford cancer care, including transportation to the local hospital/clinic and medication costs is often very difficult, and may delay or limit effective treatment.
Many people assume that cancer is too expensive for them to treat, which may cause them to feel powerless from trying to seek care for the disease. There are many cases where cancer diagnosis and treatment is too expensive for them, or the transportation costs to the clinic are too much for them to afford. What can we do to make it more convenient and affordable for people to get a proper diagnosis and treatment?
Theme - Post Treatment & Palliative Care:
An excess of cancer-related pain and suffering results from limited access to palliative care services including morphine.
Given that an estimated fewer than 50% of cancer cases in Africa are curable, improved palliative care is urgently needed. Most people in sub-Saharan Africa cannot access morphine, despite its low cost and ease of administration. How can we improve patient access to pain medication and other palliative care services?
Theme - Post Treatment & Palliative Care:
Psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual support given in tandem with palliative care, and post/during treatment is severely lacking in many developing countries.
During palliative care and both during and after treatment, many patients feel depressed, ashamed, and/or scared. Many have little to no family, or their family members are not able to support them. These patients would greatly benefit from stronger psychosocial and spiritual services, especially when they have less family support. How can patient support services be improved in resource limited settings?
Theme - Health Systems & Technology:
Since there is lack of staff dedicated to treating cancer, it is often difficult for patients to get proper care in a timely manner.
Given gross limitations of direct clinician access including exorbitant wait times, there would be significant utility for remote (web and mobile) solutions for initial triage, management, and follow up. Inefficient triaging of patients leads to delays in diagnosis and care. How can systems better triage patients?
Theme - Health Systems & Technology:
Many hospitals and clinics lack an efficient and organized medical record system.
Some of the most difficult aspects of managing cancer care include poor record keeping and communication (amongst healthcare providers as well as between healthcare providers and patients). Information about cases could be valuable for the treatment of current cases. How can medical records of cancer patients be improved?
Theme - Health Systems & Technology:
The overall cancer care system and treatment approach is very limited and disorganized in clinics and hospitals found in resource low countries.
Many clinics and hospitals across the globe have drastically different approaches to treating, screening, and diagnosing cancer. The cancer burden, technology, clinical staff, and other resources also vary. How can stronger standards for cancer centers be established, and what exactly is the ideal cancer center? How can knowledge and resources be better shared across these types of communities?

Global Cancer Innovation Hack-a-thon participants will have the opportunity to win several exciting awards:

  • $1,000 – First Prize
  • $500 – Most Implementable Technology
  • $500 – Most Innovative Solution
  • $500- Best Business Model
  • Each of the four monetary awards will also include Acceleration support from CAMTech through the CAMTech Innovation Platform.
  • Three teams will receive one year of access to the Alpha Core facilities at The Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care (CFTCC), including access to prototyping equipment and the available resources of CFTCC. CFTCC focuses on the identification, prototyping and early clinical assessment of innovative point-of-care technologies for the treatment, screening, diagnosis and monitoring of cancers.
  • Post Hack-a-thon Award – CAMTech will award $2,500 and additional acceleration support to the team that makes the most progress on their innovation 60 days after the event.

Hack Store Inventory List: CLICK HERE

Judging Criteria

Description of Category 
Challenge Addressed
  • Shows innovation is addressing one of the challenges identified or a clear public health need

Public Health Impact
  • Demonstrates potential for widespread cancer public health impact in LMICs

Technology Innovation
  • Offers new and creative technology solution (‘better/faster/cheaper’)

  • Provides convincing rationale for why this unique approach has the potential to work (if not already developed)

  • Addresses significant technical issues relevant for low-resource settings (e.g., low-cost components, intermittent power supply, parts replacement, limited Internet, unskilled health workers, etc.)

Sustainable Business Model
  • Demonstrates strong demand (social, clinical and/or economic impact)

  • Feasible to partner with organizations to disseminate technology

  • Brings cross-disciplinary expertise in technology development, clinical medicine and business/implementation

  • Incorporates end-user input/feedback

  • Demonstrates the prototype or solution

  • Clearly articulates the problem the technology proposes to address

  • Documents plan to work in the field and continually incorporate end-user feedback

Sponsors & Event Partners