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NUvention: Projects
Nuvention: Medical Course History

NUvention: Medical Innovation is the inaugural course of the NUvention program. In 2006, Swami Gnanashanmugam, a Feinberg School of Medicine student; and James Sulzer, a PhD student of McCormick School of Engineering; began an effort to create an interdisciplinary course focused on medical devices. The logistics of creating one course across Northwestern schools were daunting. But things took a turn when Gnanashanmugam and Sulzer led a group of students in approaching the McCormick School of Engineering dean, Julio Ottino, with their idea.

Shortly after their meeting, Ottino created the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation — aimed at empowering engineers with the skills to be successful entrepreneurs. He asked the center to bring the course to life after connecting with the deans of the Feinberg, Kellogg, and Law schools. The center, endowed in 2008 as the Farley Center, created NUvention: a partnership to develop interdisciplinary courses that teach students the life cycle of products and how to build businesses around those products.

The two-quarter, six-month NUvention: Medical class commenced in Fall 2007. Students who enrolled from each school were placed into groups based on their interest in different medical disciplines — cardiology, radiology, orthopedics, trauma, emergency medicine, ophthalmology, urology, neurosurgery, general surgery, and otolaryngology, better known as ear, nose, and throat (ENT) — and given the charge of creating an innovative medical device with a business plan that they could present to venture capitalists at the end of the second term.

"This course came about from student ideas," says Michael Marasco, the Farley Center director. "It says a lot about our students. It says a lot about the faculty that were involved directly in teaching this program — as well as all of our Feinberg clinical faculty who advised these teams, who allowed them to go on rounds, who allowed them into their surgical suites, who really took the time that they don't really have because they really felt that this was something important."

The associate dean of research operations at Feinberg, Dave Johnson, PhD, says that NUvention promotes innovation and collaboration at Northwestern and beyond.

"Our students look at medical needs with a fresh set of eyes and present inventive solutions," Johnson says. "But, NUvention is more than a professional experience. Students form strong friendships with students who study different disciplines. It's very exciting to see."

Watch a video introduction to NUvention: Medical below:

Read more on the makings of NUvention Medical:

Feinberg News February 2011 "NUvention: Medical Innovation"

McCormick Magazine Spring 2008 "From Students to Innovators"

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