A team of four student researchers from Concordia presented project recommendations in March to licensing managers and designers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., as the culmination of the Innovation Scholars Program.
Innovation Scholars is a nationally recognized experiential learning program that engages teams of liberal arts students in the complex processes of translational medicine, taking an idea “from the bench to the bedside.” Project partners include Mayo Clinic and early-stage Medical Alley companies.
“Working at the intersection of science, healthcare and entrepreneurship, the multidisciplinary team spent four months tackling a challenging biomedical tech transfer project focused on an implantable spinal orthopedic device,” wrote Dr. Rebecca Hawthorne, program director of Innovation Scholars.
Concordia’s 2022-23 Innovation Scholars team — Ellia Dalzell ’23 (business-healthcare), Ivana Drocezesky ’24 (finance), Chelsea Masikati ’23 (biology), and Connor Sturges ’24 (biology, neuroscience) — was led by St. Catherine University MAOL (Master of Arts in organizational leadership) student Katie Halloway. Campus mentors included Dr. Krys Strand, associate professor of biology and neuroscience program director; Bree Langemo, assistant professor of law and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship; Charissa Quinlan ’13, senior director of project and program management at Aldevron, Fargo; and Dr. Shelly Gompf, assistant professor of healthcare and director of the healthcare leadership program.
Every year the project is “something very real and dynamic,” Strand said. Students may be examining a new medical device, a diagnostic tool, or any number of things. Everyone who participates signs a nondisclosure agreement and cannot share details about the project with others.
“Students really have to work together and learn from each other, which I think is a great aspect of this program,” Strand added.
The teams write a lengthy report that they submit to Mayo Clinic and then they give a half-hour presentation of recommendations followed by an intensive Q&A.
“It’s cool just to see where some of these projects go once they become public,” she added.
“As a biology major, I tend to approach everything with my science background, but the program opened my eyes and helped me see the world from the business side of things as well,” Masikati said.
“The teamwork skills I gained were unique to this experience and will help me as I further my career in healthcare leadership,” Dalzell said. “Also, collaborating with a team of innovators from one of the world’s leading healthcare systems is truly an honor and something I am very grateful to have experienced.”