RCSI students tackle global healthcare issues in annual innovation challenge

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The winners of the 2024 RCSI Student Innovation Challenge: The E-Bridge Team.

Over 65 students at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences have pitched their innovative ideas to address global healthcare challenges as part of the 2024 Student Innovation Challenge.

The challenge is part of the RCSI Research Summer School which has been taking place throughout June, immersing undergraduate students in the diverse and vibrant RCSI research environment. 

The Student Innovation Challenge pitch event marks the culmination of four weeks of work by the student teams who, equipped with training in market research, intellectual property and research commercialisation, present their innovations that have the potential solve challenges in healthcare. 

Participating in the challenge provides undergraduate students with a unique opportunity to solve a tangible healthcare problem under the mentorship of an RCSI clinician scientist challenge leader, honing their problem-solving, innovation and entrepreneurial skills. 

Led by RCSI Head of Innovation Dr Aoife Gallagher and Dr Shona Pfeiffer, Lecturer in the Department of Physiology & Medical Physics, this year’s challenge saw 65 RCSI Research Summer School students working with expert challenge leaders on real clinical problems to become innovators, communicators and ultimately help them become skilled clinical practitioners. 

At the pitch event yesterday, the E-Bridge team led by Dr Cian Hehir successfully presented their ideas to a panel of judges, including industry experts, to become the winners of the challenge. The team developed an e-referral system that allows any clinician to refer organ transplant recipients who present with skin lesions to plastic surgery clinics for assessment. 

Reflecting on the high standard set by the teams in this year’s challenge, Dr Gallagher said: “The creativity displayed by the teams in their solutions to address real-world healthcare challenges was very impressive. At the heart of this event is collaboration between academics, clinicians and patients – an approach that we champion at RCSI to innovate for a healthier future.” 

The teams were tasked with addressing challenges presented by RCSI clinician scientists in key RCSI research areas: vascular biology and cardiology, cancer, surgical science and practice, population health and gastroenterology. 

The full list of innovation challenges presented by the RCSI Challenge Leaders is:

  • Dr Sandra Hembrecht: Cancer clinical trials information for patients 
  • Dr Katie Giblin: Surgical site infection 
  • Dr Rory Durand (with Dr JJ Coughlan): Referral pathway for catheterisation lab procedures 
  • Dr Ben Jacob: Cancer dashboard for general practice 
  • Dr Eimear Gibbons: Inflammatory bowel disease in pregnancy 
  • Dr Cian Hehir: Referral to plastic surgery clinics for organ transplant recipients