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Concordia freshman Olivia Beaudoin (left), Dr. Christian Albano and Dr. Sharon Chappy are all prepping for the 2017 HIP program.

2017 HIP program preps pitches for the next health care breakthrough

Editor's note: The following sponsored content was provided by Concordia University Wisconsin.

Startups, patents, accelerators, a think tank: There's an entrepreneurial energy that is uniting Concordia University Wisconsin and connecting the Northshore campus to the greater community.

Driven by their desire to create innovative solutions for some of the area's top health care concerns, CUW students, alumni and faculty are putting their expertise into action to advance their fields of study, and drive change in new and exciting ways.

Concordia University Wisconsin's Mequon-based campus is located on 200 acres of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline.

As a demonstration of this, Concordia is playing a significant role in the Healthcare Innovation Pitch (HIP) program, where startup teams with a focus on health tech, comprehensive medication management, or therapeutics and devices are selected to develop their ideas and then pitch them to a panel of nationally renowned venture capitalists.

This is the second year of the biannual program. The inaugural competition's winners received a combined total of $100,000 in seed funding for their health care-related innovations.

Concordia helped launch the 2017 HIP program by hosting a kickoff event on Sept. 26. This year's program will culminate with a pitch event on Nov. 8 at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

"It's like a drug for me to see that entrepreneurial mindset sink in for other people," says Dr. Daniel Sem, dean of Concordia's Batterman School of Business. "I'm excited to be part of the ecosystem that's now building that culture at Concordia and in Wisconsin."

Dr. Daniel Sem, dean of Concordia's Batterman School of Business, talk with attendees of the Sept. 26 HIP Kickoff at Concordia.

Sem isn't the only Concordian who's contributing to Wisconsin's entrepreneurial momentum. Here are just a few others at Concordia who are making good on their bright ideas through HIP.

The Contenders

Dr. Christian Albano, associate professor of pharmacy at Concordia, and Dr. Sharon Chappy, dean of Concordia's School of Nursing, are part of a team that is working to develop an app that would synchronize medication pick-up schedules for patients.

Three Concordia faculty and an alumnus have entered the HIP race this year and are planning to offer up their answer to the state's medication management concern at the Nov. 8 pitch event.

The solution comes in the form of an app, called MedSync-RX, which would synchronize the medication pick-up schedule for patients with multiple prescriptions and integrate with the computerized medical records system already in place in Wisconsin hospitals. This is something that isn't currently happening in many pharmacies throughout the state and even country, says Associate Professor of Pharmacy Christian Albano, PhD, MBA, MPH.

"This technology can help structure pharmacists' workflow and increase the amount of time they can devote to patient care," Albano says. "This is not just helping individual patients, it's decreasing overall costs and improving quality of care."

The app relies on patients to input their data. An algorithm then configures a fill schedule for pharmacists, allowing patients to collect their prescriptions with one trip every 30, 60 or 90 days.

In addition to Albano, the MedSync-RX team is made up of a 2016 graduate, Brian Trinh, PharmD, MBA; School of Nursing Dean Sharon Chappy, PhD, RN, CNOR; and Associate Professor of Computer Science Michael Litman, PhD.

The Up-and-Comer

Concordia freshman Olivia Beaudoin attends the Sept. 26 HIP Kickoff at the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship.

Albano is also joining forces with Olivia Beaudoin, who is in her second semester at Concordia, to compete in the therapeutics and devices "track" of the HIP competition. Prior to teaming up with Albano, Beaudoin, a music therapy major and business minor, started Tones for Life, LLC, with the goal of expanding the use of music therapy and encouraging service businesses and organizations – such as dental offices, hospitals, yoga studios, etc. – to utilize certain frequencies to promote health and overall wellbeing.

The 20-year-old Beaudoin says she's experienced firsthand the healing effect music can have. She notes that one of the hardest times in her life was when her parents divorced when she was 14 years old. She picked up a guitar, taught herself to play in one day and started writing songs in order to cope.

"That really helped me heal," she says. "I saw therapists, but it was music that consoled me best. There's just something about it that gets to a different part of your brain to help you heal."

In keeping with the music therapy theme, Beaudoin and Albano plan to pitch a product that will leverage sound healing. Beaudoin is currently in the process of procuring a provisional patent for the innovation.

The Finishers

A team of pharmacy professors took home second place at the inaugural HIP competition in 2015. Microlitics, LLC team members Dr. Joe McGraw, associate professor of pharmacy at Concordia, and Dr. Armin Gerhardt, a past Concordia employee, claimed $25,000 in seed funding for their core technology that holds promises for better and safer medication therapy management.

Microlitics' patented diagnostic test enables personalization of drug treatments based on a patient's phenotypic makeup. The tool helps physicians identify things like how patients will respond to certain drugs.

McGraw and Gerhardt developed the technology in Concordia's School of Pharmacy research laboratories. In 2016, the university signed a license agreement with the firm.

Read more about Microlitics here.

Concordia University is a nonprofit, Lutheran higher education community serving more than 8,900 students online, at two residential campuses in Mequon, Wisconsin, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and at 10 satellite centers. The school is affiliated with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and is part of the Concordia University System, a national network of colleges. Learn more online athttp://www.cuw.edu and http://www.cuaa.edu.

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