Innovating for Health: Vanderbilt’s Wond’ry Launches First Faculty BioMedical Ideator Cohort to Foster Medical Entrepreneurship

The Wond’ry recently hosted its first Faculty BioMedical Ideator cohort. The program curriculum was based around the Sullivan Family Ideator Program, which helps aspiring university-affiliated innovators (students, staff, faculty, and alumni) evaluate and develop their ideas by teaching an evidence-based approach to idea evaluation and offering expert mentorship and access to resources.

Launched in January by Daniel Fabbri, PhD, director of Informatics Innovation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Mark Hilton, PhD, Program Manager of Entrepreneurship at the Wond’ry, Cameron Russ, Program Coordinator of Biomedical Entrepreneurship at the Wond’ry, and Destane Garrett, Program Coordinator of Biomedical Innovation at the Wond’ry, the program participants learned ways to evaluate the commercial value and tech-transfer potential of their research. Participants were also eligible to receive microgrants if they demonstrated a strong commitment to their idea and its merit. 

"Faculty are the essence of the university, serving as a source of intellectual property and teaching the talent that will shape the future," said Charleson Bell, PhD, Director of Entrepreneurship and Biomedical Innovation at the Wond'ry. "The Faculty Ideator program is an ideal gateway for fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among faculty, helping them conceptualize cutting-edge research that can have a positive impact on the community and beyond once commercialized."

The cohort included a total of seven teams from various VUMC departments including DBMI, genetics, anesthesia, surgery, rheumatology. The teams completed over 130+ interviews across the 10-week program and completed a 2-minute pitch with judges, who provided insights and feedback.

“The focus on customer discovery in the program helped me think about future implementation effort”, said participant April Barnado, whose team developed and validated a risk model to predict risk of developing systemic autoimmune disease in individuals with positive antinuclear antibodies or ANAs. “The program also helped me think more critically about commercialization and next steps.” 

View a list of some of the projects and participants below.

  • GownCard - Alexander Langerman, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology and Associate Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and Jonathan Wanderer, Professor of Anesthesiology and Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • CAVaaS - WeiQi Wei, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics
  • ANA Risk Model - April Barnado, MD, MSCI, Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • LLMs to Support CDS - Adam Wright, PhD, Professor  Department of Biomedical Informatics, Director of Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC), and Professor, Department of Medicine
  • RareDX - Douglas Ruderfer, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Genetic Medicine, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • My Cancer Genome - Christine Micheel, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Medicine