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Innovation Challenge Yields Type-1 Diabetes Ideas

Adult testing a child's blood glucose (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

A collaboration between Harvard University and innovation/crowdsourcing company InnoCentive generated nearly 200 ideas for new strategies to cure Type-1 diabetes, with the 12 winners announced yesterday by Harvard. The winners each received a $2,500 prize. The program was funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to Harvard Catalyst, the university’s cross-disciplinary clinical and translational science center.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, according to the American Diabetes Association. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. About 1 in every 400 to 600 children and adolescents has type 1 diabetes .

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Eva Guinan, director of the Harvard Catalyst Linkages program and Harvard Business School’s Karim Lakhani, came up with the idea for the first Harvard Catalyst/InnoCentive Ideation Challenge, which sought answers to the question, “What do we not know to cure type 1 diabetes?” The question, posted to the entire Harvard community and InnoCentive’s network of subscribers, ran during February and March 2010.

The 191 submitted entries were reviewed by panels of 240 experts from academia, business, and not-for-profit organizations. Harvard Catalyst plans to ask the Harvard community for research proposals on at least some of the winning questions.

Winners included graduate and undergraduate students, a postdoctoral fellow, researchers from inside and outside the medical field, business people, and one diabetes patient. Entries included new approaches to defining types of diabetes, better monitoring of blood sugar levels, and bio-engineering methods for control of the disease. Abstracts of the entries are posted on the Harvard Catalyst Web site.

Related: Gerson Lehrman Group News Analysis – A Challenging Way to Finance Innovation.

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