Success for Austin’s First-Ever Life Sci Hackathon | Recap of Impact

Experimental Civics
Feb 4 · 7 min read

As any hackathon organizer would put it after a long weekend event, I’m exhausted, but it was certainly worth it. Here’s a brief recap of Austin’s first-ever life science hackathon hosted by Experimental Civics, BioAustin, and CapChem from the inception of the event idea to our immediate impact.

Group Pic | Life Sci Hack

Idea

The idea for the event happened after a conversation I had with my brother (Suliman Sharif) and it dawned on us that a hackathon event could help ease or even solve some of the pain points felt by everyone in the broader life science community from data interoperability to bioeducation.

Understanding that this would be an undertaking, we decided to pursue it with just a few months to bring everything together with no resources except priceless experience and a passion for bringing this to life.

We invited Scott Collins, PhD from BioAustin, an established organization in Central Texas for networking, collaborating, and advancing the entire life science community, to the table. Scott jumped at the idea and offered support

In Experimental-Civics-style, we hustled to get a branded event together using our existing templates and thus, Life Sci Hack was born!

Now What?

We decided to build a 3-day hackathon event with 4 core challenges participants could focus on. At all of our events, we promote the model of open submissions with broad scopes to encourage creativity.

As I often say…I don’t give artists canvasses with set parameters on what to paint…it defeats the point and doesn’t empower the type of imagination we want to inspire…art is created on blank canvasses.

We decided to hack forward these challenges forward by inviting participants from all interests, experiences, sectors, and industries.

Challenge 1 | Interoperability — Tracking of information between software.

Challenge 2 | Big Data — Dealing with large scientific data for implementation and analysis.

Challenge 3 | Life Science Tools — Software package tools for the life science community.

Challenge 4 | BioEducation — More robust educational tools for the life science community.

We had a very basic judging format for this hackathon given that it was a pilot in a new arena and literally everything was being determined by scratch.

Designed by Experimental Civics

Onwards to the Event

We kicked off the event last Friday (Feb. 1) and hacked through Sunday afternoon. It was amazing to witness the creativity, hour after hour, the teams had to run, jump, skip through hurdles and it’s not an easy feat.

We had 9 teams total with 36 hackers, 4 mentors, 3 judges, and 8 volunteers!

Catch a glimpse of our hackathon projects on our GitHub:

Of course, like all great things, eventually they must come to an end and so we reached Sunday with project submissions, over an hour of presentations, and tons of brain food on the projects worked on by our hackers. While watching the room, I loved noticing the favorable reactions hackers had to their comrades and the support everyone had with each other.

Friday Night (Life Sci Hack)
Saturday + Sunday (Life Sci Hack)

Winners

Our judges had tough decisions to make, we even extended our deliberation period because the projects were so compelling. The judges awarded three challenge winners and one overall hackathon winner.

Fish Dreams | Life Science Tools Winner

Fish Dreams (Sarah Price, Reva Schweitzer, Adriana Cardenas, Jessica Moore Bonner, and Christopher Fraher)

Goal: We wanted to design a tool which helps track potential cognitive loss. We wanted to build something which required less face-to-face interaction and had the ability for increased data sharing among healthcare professionals.

Problem: Cognitive impairment is a growing health problem within the American populace and the tracking, gathering, and sharing of information that could potentially improve the speed of diagnosis for the overall population as well as providing day-to-day metrics for individual patients requires improvements.

Improvements related specifically to ease-of-use, decrease in the amount of assistance from medical staff, and information sharing to improve medical research are badly needed within this sector. Decreasing the amount of time necessary to run diagnostic tests on each patient has the potential to increase the amount of time that doctors and patients can spend talking to each other.

CompliFi | BioEducation Winner

CompLifi (Kierra, Irene, Kalyan, Abel)

Goal: To help educate medical coders and billers and other healthcare professionals improve coding compliance and reimbursement for complex procedures.

Problem: Providing ongoing training in the healthcare industry alongside keeping up with changes to regulation, coding and payment policies is difficult. Our consulting experts deliver actionable answers in all major specialties of interventional radiology, cardiology, medical oncology, and diagnostic radiology coding. Our clients access this information through an online portal that includes webinars, live chat, e-learning & updates on all CEUs (continuing education units).

Symptom Minimizer | Interoperability Winner

Symptom Minimizer (Daniel Bejarano, Karina Loyo, Mark Sherman)

Goal: Create a conceptual visual design of the platform and identify the sources of data and marketing components to bring it to users.

Problem: Unintended adverse symptoms can occur when you are taking more than 5 medications all at once. The mixed-use of drugs, based on the team’s research, is serious and sometimes fatal with this issue being the 4th leading cause of death in the United States and causing over 1.9M hospitalizations. With a large, aging population, these untended symptoms could be on the rise, but with their solution, we could help solve this problem before it gets worse. They were focused on building a human-friendly, approachable platform for users to minimize the impact on their lives with a complete history of symptoms, trackable data points, educated prescription recommendations, and a hefty knowledge base to pull information from.

Symptom Minimizer | Life Sci Hack 2019 Winner

Well, you’ve already read about their project above, but the judges absolutely loved this project and we decided to award Symptom Minimizer with the overall hackathon winner title! This team was #winning on their practicality of their dashboard and execution of the project.

Impact

We don’t where things will be in the coming years or even a decade from now…but based on our respondent feedback, we strongly feel that this event is the start of something and we’re heading in the right direction with increasing education of the terms shared, increasing awareness of the pain points, and increasing awareness of hackathon formats to solve challenges.

Big Data

Interoperability

Life Science Tools

BioEducation

Conclusion

We’re going to work with our winners from now through Sep. 2019 and we can’t wait to invite others for continued support.

The event was exactly what it was meant to be, a start to something much more in Austin.

People came, people hacked, people networked, people learned, and we started conversations about new ideas.

Great work to everyone involved and let’s see what happens next. Our hackers were certainly having fun!

Experimental Civics

Written by

We design spaces for people to experiment with their ideas. experimentalcivics.io

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