I am in New York for the semester and I am truly enjoying myself.
I am not a huge partier or a drinker, so often I opt out of the events with friends that center around these activities. Also, I do not live in the city, so commuting to the city can be expensive and it takes so long. The Metro North trains stop running to my area at roughly 2am, so I would have to be at Grand Central Station by 1:45am to make it home. In New York, people don’t really start coming out until 11 or 12, which leaves me a good hour and a half to have fun, before I have to rush back to catch my train. Ok, so why not just drive my car into the city. Well parking in NYC is more expensive than daycare, and I do not have the dividends for that. So, I pick and choose very carefully the times for which I go into the city.
This past week I went into the city twice. I attended two healthcare technologies seminar functions. The first was at Google NYC, an event with FlatIron hosted by Google Ventures.The second at Columbia University, a HealthTech assembly that encourages idea exchange and promotes broadening the collaboration between healthcare and business professionals.
The FlatIron/Google Ventures event was amazing. There were talks from several physicians’s specializing in oncology as well as the had of engineering at Yammers (A small startup company bought by Microsoft for millions!). FlatIron/Google Ventures has set out to catalog as much cancer research as they possible can. They are gathering data from varying sources by sitting down with clinicians, patients, insurers and many more to find out as much as they can about cancer. Cancer affects the lives of patient as well as those around the patient (family, friends, healthcare providers). There are so many varying forms of cancer and cancer treatments, however, each patient is different and each patient responds differently to cancer treatment. The data being collected by FlatIron is needed so that clinicians as well as patients will have access to differing scenario’s of patients with various forms of cancer and treatments for those suffering with, living with, or surviving with cancer. FlatIron and Google Ventures, plans to morph data ascertained during this research phase into a database known as GoogleOncology that will give people more information, facts, and stories about cancer and its effects.
What was really amazing about the FlatIron staff was that they all work for Google. FlatIron happened to be their second start up company after their first was bought by Google. Stepping away from the technology aspect of this all for one second we see that life is what you make of it. A group of friends went from and idea to being apart of a major corporation all because they took and chance and made their passion a reality. The story of this group of friends should inspire innovation and entrepreneurship in all of us and challenge us not to get stuck in the cycle of going to college, finding a job, and working hard for someone else’s dream for the rest of our lives.
While I enjoyed the FlatIron/Google Ventures event tremendously, what I gained from being there was the encouragement I needed to go back into the city for yet another healthcare seminar at Columbia University. This meeting was a little more informal. We formed groups and discussed ideas that aided in identifying and writing the best mission statements for technology companies that were looking to solve problem in healthcare from a technology standpoint. This was where innovation really began. We sat together and discussed solutions to healthcare problems with expertise in varying areas. In my group was a medical student, a business student, a biomedical engineering student, a public health administration student, one mathematician, and myself the computer science student. While the biomedical engineering student was the most loquacious in our group, we were all able to lend perspective from our varying areas or expertise. Our challenge was to identify a way in which technology could be used to reduce the number of deaths in cardiac patients that had heart attacks outside of the hospital. This is when things got interesting. Our biomedical engineer suggested that we use graph theory to handle signal processing,as notifications to those that chose to opt into our application were notified of a person(s) experiencing cardiac arrest in their vicinity.
From these two events I learned that being around like minded people in an environment that challenges you to think beyond your current state is what drives innovation.