Origami Innovations Team Invited to Capitol Hill in Efforts to Curb Opioid Crisis

Origami Innovations is excited to send a team of Yale University students and interdisciplinary stakeholders to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s National Opioid Summit and Code-a-Thon. The event, organized by the Office of the Chief Technology Officer’s HHS IDEA Lab, will be held from December 5th — December 7th, 2017 in conjunction with a Stanford University Medicine X-led design workshop. Origami Innovations is grateful for support and sponsorship from our friends and advisors at HealthVenture, a digital health foundry and cross-border venture fund.

The team, consisting of ten unique stakeholders with varying fields of expertise, is heading to Washington D.C. this week to participate in this first-of-its-kind event in which government will directly source creative innovation from academia, startups, and industry. In attendance will be patients, academics, designers, healthcare providers, public health institutions and leading healthcare organizations, federal and state agencies, and industry from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

“We focus on real-world value creation, moving interests and passions out of academic journals and into tangible solutions, taking the next step from focusing on the ways the world ‘should be changed’ into the ways the world ‘can be changed’ “— Origami Innovations Mission

The Design-a-Thon (Dec 5–7)

Origami Innovations will be an active participant in the joint Stanford Medicine X–HHS Design Workshop. “The goal of the design workshop is to work with an interdisciplinary group to gain insight into the various challenges surrounding opioid use in America,” said Stanford Medicine X Associate and Design Workshop faculty Justin Lai. “The themes that we are able to elicit during our workshop will carry over into the HHS Code-a-Thon to provide the competing teams with the synthesized context that we at Stanford Medicine X believe is necessary in order to produce truly meaningful solutions.”

“Our hope that is that the ideas that stem from these events can be carried home and implemented by local government agencies to begin shifting the needle on the opioid epidemic in the U.S.”

It is through our participation in these hands-on events and close collaboration with Stanford Medicine X that we aim to stay true to our founding vision and contribute towards finding real solutions to a complex public health crisis that results in 91 Americans dying every day from an overdose.

It is important that we design solutions that take into account the intricate nature of opioid use in this country. The specific aim of this HHS event is to reduce some of the negative aspects of both prescription and illegal street opioid use — specifically addiction, physical dependence, and morbidity and mortality. However, we must also be mindful of responsible and legitimate use by patients who rely on opioid pain medication to function. In our design-thinking we must remember that improving education on responsible use and incorporating holistic comprehensive pain management modalities into the conversation will be important to making progress.

The Code-a-Thon (Dec 6–7)

The HHS has invited the Origami Innovations team to be part of a select group of invitees from all over the United States to develop data-driven solutions to the opioid epidemic using big data, machine learning, and technology.

“We’re thrilled to be taking part in this event. The HHS has noted the importance of real-world implementation in generated solutions which aligns with the overall mission of Origami Innovations. We have an amazing interdisciplinary team of designers, developers, data scientists, and healthcare providers and we hope to design a solution with the potential to make an impact in communities the very next day.”

The Code-a-Thon team will be participating in the overnight event from the morning of Dec 6th to the evening of Dec 7th — searching for ways to improve access to treatment and recovery services and for ways to better identify at-risk populations for early and effective intervention.

The Symposium (Dec 6–7)

Policymakers and leaders in the field will share their current strategies for addressing the opioid epidemic within their communities. The Symposium will bring stakeholders from the federal, state, and local level to innovate solutions using new technologies and data-driven solutions to improve outcomes and decrease morbidity and mortality associated with opioids. Ultimately, the Symposium aims to empower local stakeholders to rapidly implement solutions from the D.C. event into their communities.

Meet the Origami Innovations Team

Our team is looking forward to sharing more about our experience at the event in the coming weeks, but for now, here’s an introduction to the invited team that we are sending to our nation’s capital:

Matthew Erlendson — Matthew is a 4th year MD student at Yale, founder of Origami Innovations — a student-led innovation lab in New Haven — and the founding team leader and executive board member of Stanford Medicine X, a Silicon Valley healthcare innovation hub and conference based out of Stanford University. He has published relevant research on novel treatments for alleviating the objective and subjective symptoms of acute opioid withdrawal and is looking forward to representing the student voice at the HHS event. Matthew brings in 5 years of experience in patient-centered design and innovation. As the founder of Origami Innovations, Matthew serves as team organizer and will be part of the HHS Code-a-Thon team.

“In my personal life, I’ve witnessed family members struggle with addiction and dependence to opioids — ultimately leading to the loss of a close relative. I’ve held the hands of numerous patients undergoing the agonizing process of opioid withdrawal on the wards and in my clinical research, all in hopes of finding ways to improve quality of life and better understand the science behind opioid addiction and physical dependence. It is an unfortunate reality that most individuals have, in some way, been touched by this crisis with some communities impacted more than others. It is my hope that this collaboration with the US Department of Health and Human Services can in some capacity help those suffering from addiction and aid family members, friends, caregivers, community members, and healthcare professionals who provide support day in and day out.”

Lan Duan — Lan is a first year MPH Health Policy student at Yale School of Public Health, Academic Affiliate/Innovation Lead of Origami Innovations, and also works with a Johns Hopkins spin-off, PathoVax, that develops a broad spectrum HPV vaccine to potentially eliminate cervical cancer. Before her enrollment in the Yale Public Health program, Lan worked for a boutique life sciences regulatory consulting firm, Boston Clinical Research, for 2 years and was responsible for business strategy and business development. She earned her MBA and MS in Accountancy at Bentley College and her Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in International Relationships and a Bachelor of Economics in International Finance from China.


Sachith Gullapalli — Sachith graduated from Yale University in 2017 with a B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics. He is now a Software Engineer at Google in Mountain View, CA and is also the co-founder of Grovio, a low-cost unmanned aerial system to capture and analyze multispectral imagery, with the goal of producing an intuitive product that small and mid-size farms can use to monitor crop health and to optimize fertilizer inputs.

“I grew up in Southwest Virginia, one of the areas of the country most hard-hit by the opioid crisis, and my dad works in pain medicine, so I’ve seen at pretty close hand how addiction can transform an area and the people in it. I strongly believe in the power of data to help drive decision-making and identify targeted, cost-effective solutions to hard problems. I also believe that when great people from different fields get together, great things can happen, so I’m really looking forward to working with this team.”

Lina Vadlamani — Lina is currently a 1st-year medical student at the Yale School of Medicine and has a B.A. in Human Biology and an M.S. in Community Health and Prevention Research from Stanford University. She has 5 years of experience working with underserved populations and spent the last year managing a free clinic delivering care to uninsured patients in San Jose. Lina is very interested in utilizing design to improve chronic and behavioral health conditions and has taken classes focused on designing for healthcare at the Design School at Stanford. She has conducted research using human-centered design in local communities and abroad and is passionate about using the intersection of traditional research methodology and design thinking to improve community health.

“The opioid epidemic is multifactorial, challenging and an incredibly pressing problem to solve — as a medical student, I see patients every time I go to the hospital that are suffering from addiction and overdoses. It’s easy for a healthcare provider to feel powerless to address the root of the problem, and I’m excited to try to find solutions.”

Dara Rouholiman — Dara is a chemist, researcher, and data scientist working at the intersection of healthcare and technology, helping startups and companies validate their digital health tools. He is based in Silicon Valley and a current affiliate of Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine at Stanford University. Dara began his career as a chemist doing basic research making novel antibacterial nanoparticles at University of California Santa Cruz before switching over to a position as a clinical researcher in Digital Health, Patient-Centered Research and Health Policy as Research. He most recently worked as the Special Projects Associate at Stanford Medicine X and is looking forward to using his research, entrepreneurship, and machine learning skills to contribute to the Origami Innovations Code-a-Thon team.


Frank Lee — Frank is a pain physician practicing in the Washington D.C. area. He is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins Hospital and has attended and spoken about the opioid crisis at Stanford Medicine X for the last three years. Dr. Lee is hoping that this event will help him better understand what data is available regarding the opioid epidemic, and how that data can be used to help patients, as well as predict misuse and abuse of opioids. As a provider on the front lines of this public health crisis, Dr. Lee understands some of the unique challenges posed by this particular issue and brings significant expertise to the Origami Innovations Code-a-Thon team.


Jack Cackler — Jack is a seasoned developer and data scientist. A two-time alum of Stanford University who received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, he has worked at Facebook as a data scientist and currently serves as a machine learning engineer at Palantir working on creating predictive algorithms from big data. He has a great deal of experience with previous hackathons and as a developer/data scientist.


Valentine Quadrat — Valentine is a former media professional who worked at National Geographic Channels and Fox Cable Networks advising international offices on production, ad sales, and marketing initiatives. She is currently a first-year at the Yale School of Management with a focus on design and innovation and is interested in the application of human-centered design to the opioid crisis. She appreciates the multidisciplinary nature of the design process in bringing together diverse backgrounds to immerse into and problem solve on a complex issue.