For the past two summers, our thought leaders here at PRA have had the opportunity to connect with the thought leaders of tomorrow in an engaged innovator experience. CentennialX connects high school students with teachers and professionals, presenting an industry challenge for them to tackle. Most of the students come away from the experience empowered with skills like collaboration, problem solving, design thinking, and hands-on research experience.
This time, one group caught the eye of a major national non-profit organization.
PRA sponsored three teams in Blue Bell for the 2017 CentennialX experience. Two teams focused on rare diseases topics; the third tackled a pediatric issue.
As they explored the topic of rare diseases, this team realized that, so often, patients who are diagnosed with a rare disease share the same feelings and concerns – but because their disease is rare, it’s very difficult to find a community who share those same issues.
So, Team Kahani tapped the idea of “Humans of New York” and created a website where patients could post a picture and their story; a community where real people could tell their rare stories and build support for one another. The site shares resources and connects patients and researchers.
As pediatric patients and their families consider a clinical trial, there are naturally endless questions. This team created a board game, and accompanying app, that let patients and their families explore the process and progress through stages of the clinical trial, reducing confusion and anxiety they may experience. With games and rewards, this team hopes pediatric patients and their families will not only feel more comfortable, but also be able to use information to communicate with researchers any concerns.
Like Team Kahani, this team focused on rare diseases, and recognized the isolation that so often accompanies patients. They created an app designed to connect teen patients with one another, to provide a private community offering support, resources, and even potential meetup spots in hospitals.
At the conclusion of the program, each team presented their challenge and how they resolved it in a professional pitch session. And how did these young researchers and innovators stand up to the test?
A representative from the National Organization for Rare Diseases was watching – and was impressed, so much that NORD began discussing the potential to patent Team Floq’s app and push it into development – a door-opening opportunity for the young thought leaders of tomorrow.