Medical Innovators Development Program

Clinical medicine + innovative biomedical design = MIDP. This unique program led by a multi-disciplinary team of diverse leaders from the medical center, engineering, and business schools, proudly debuted in 2016 with three exemplary and diverse students. They arrived as engineers equipped with PhDs and are now blooming master innovator-physicians.


The program’s uncommon approach to recruitment involves a day of informal tours and a collaborative group design challenge followed by a ‘Shark Tank’ style pitch to a panel of distinguished faculty from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, School of Engineering, and Owen Graduate School of Management. The process yields several stellar candidates and this July, MIDP welcomed our second exceptional cohort of four students with varied research backgrounds in epidemiology, imaging, medical physics, and device regulation at the FDA.

Wond'ry Collaboration

A timely match occurred in September 2016, when the opening of the Wond’ry coincided with MIDP’s inaugural year and the relationship is flourishing. The Wond’ry is Vanderbilt’s epicenter for innovation and entrepreneurship, is a powerful resource for the entire campus, and Nashville. This physical creative design space is combined with innovative educational programs such as Vandy Hacks / Healthcare Hackathon, and Pre / Post Flight training, and has laid the groundwork for a fruitful collaborative space – intellectually and physically. Planning meetings and informal student forums are held at the Wond’ry. Drawing on internal colleagues as well as Vanderbilt alums to lead these forums, speakers have included such notable thought leaders as Jerry Wilmink, PhD, CEO and Founder of Wisewear, Paul Yock, MD, entrepreneur and founder of Stanford Biodesign, Rod Pettigrew, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering, and Vanderbilt’s own Alan Bentley from the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization.

Program and Faculty Progression

Woven into the very fabric of the program is the natural and fundamental leveraging of relationships across creative, intellectual and academic boundaries. Mike King, PhD, chair of Biomedical Engineering  and Matthew Walker, PhD, associate professor of the practice of biomedical engineering, have both recently joined the MIDP Leadership Team. Dr. Walker, course director for the Y3 Translational Design Lab, is introducing the concept of “Clinical Functional Deployment” in the clerkship rotations for year 2. Students will be armed with an Innovation E-notebook as they participate in the curriculum from a perspective intentionally focused on designing radically new approaches to health.

Global Impact

Exemplifying the hallmarks of MIDP, promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation at Vanderbilt and the broader community – plus social outreach – our first year students were led on an Innovation Service Learning spring break trip to Guatemala with Brent Savoie, JD, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences. Students visited with local healthcare organizations to identify opportunities where innovation can help meet global healthcare challenges. 

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