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Pitt Innovation Challenge Poses New Health Care Questions, Looks for Promising Solutions

PITTSBURGH, July 23, 2014 – In the second competition of its kind, the University of Pittsburgh will award up to $375,000 to teams of creative thinkers who have fresh ideas to solve tough, health-related problems.
As in the previous Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh), the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), in collaboration with the university’s Office of the Provost and the Innovation Institute, also will provide winning teams with project managers to implement their plans.
The next challenge seeks answers to the question, “From cell to community:  How can we individualize solutions for better health(care)?” Solutions could involve personalizing the medical experience; tailoring treatments for a specific disease using genetic information; leveraging family history or other individually unique data; and developing patient-focused interventions.
“The success of the first PInCh showed that scientists and other community members can come up with creative approaches to tackle difficult problems,” said CTSI director Steven Reis, M.D., who also is associate vice chancellor for clinical research, health sciences, and a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “The competition provides a way of making good ideas a reality.”
Since their selection at a public judging event in May, the funded teams from the first PInCh have been making great progress with their projects, Dr. Reis noted. “We’re delighted to support these kinds of efforts and are eager to see the impact they will have on the health of our community.”
The first step in the competition requires submitting a two-minute video by Sept. 15 that introduces the team, defines the health problem that is being tackled and briefly outlines the creative solution. Early round winners will be invited to a final round of judging on Nov. 12 at a public event in which teams will make short presentations to a panel of judges.
“We look at PInCh as a new way to leverage the talent and drive here at the University of Pittsburgh in collaboration with partners outside the university,” said John Maier, M.D., Ph.D., PInCH program director. “We want to ask hard questions that traditional academic efforts have struggled to solve and give anyone who is interested and enthusiastic a chance to come up with better solutions.”
Teams that bring together collaborators from different perspectives, institutions and disciplines are encouraged, but at least one member of the team must be a Pitt faculty member. If needed, PInCh organizers will help community members connect with a member of the faculty. The solution could be a device, a software application, an intervention strategy or any other approach the team identifies.
For more information and to register a team, go to

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