Hospital and Entrepreneurs Team Up to Launch Health Innovation Fellowship in D.C.

Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health, a past fellowship program embedded in the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2), has concluded. Learn more about the history and successes of the program here.


Health for America (HFA) is proud to welcome four young professionals to its 2015-16 Fellowship Program. In an innovative partnership with MedStar Health and 1776, the incoming Fellows will work together over the course of one year to create and implement a health solution in Washington, D.C. HFA is the first program of its kind, granting young leaders from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to delve deeply into real-world healthcare needs and build sustainable and commerciable solutions.Each year, HFA chooses a specific chronic condition for Fellows to address, based on need and the potential to create positive change. This year’s class of Fellows will address type two diabetes patient care. HFA’s partnership with MedStar allows the fellows to learn about diabetes from experts at the MedStar Diabetes Institute in Washington, DC.

Fellows will spend the first few months of the program learning about diabetes and the health care system; they will talk with people who are caring for, treating, and living with the disease. As a team, the Fellows will then test and prototype a variety of solutions, utilizing lean startup and design thinking methodologies. Together, they will come to a consensus on the greatest opportunity for impact, and the final months of the Fellowship will be focused on scaling a solution to benefit diabetes patients. In addition to working in Washington, D.C. to learn more about the problems patients face, the four Fellows will have the opportunity to travel across the country to attend diabetes and tech conferences, study design thinking, and meet with startup founders. They will share all of their findings with program partners so that patients may benefit for years to come.

“Health for America has been progressively building momentum from our summer pilot, inaugural full year class, and now our third class of Fellows,” said HFA Executive Director Megan Caldwell. “We are incredibly excited to empower another group of young leaders to build a sustainable health solution here in the District. And we are especially thankful to our esteemed partners, MedStar and 1776, who are committed to the fusion of entrepreneurship, design, and healthcare.”

Mark Smith, MD, directorof the MedStar Institute for Innovation and MedStar’s chief innovation officer said, “As part of our journey to help create health care of the future, we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with these Health For America Fellows. MI2 is founded on the principle that for health care to be transformed, we must also look outside our own walls—and those of our traditional collaborators.”

“Startups are increasingly at the forefront of efforts to make healthcare more efficient and cost effective,” said Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776. “We’re thrilled to partner with Health for America and MedStar because this fellowship is an important step toward enabling startups to continue disrupting and driving innovation in health care delivery – ultimately providing better outcomes for patients and providers.”

Chosen from a competitive nationwide pool of applicants, this year’s HFA Fellows are Dan Hoff, Amanda Newman, May Paquete, and Jake Vildibill. The four Fellows were selected for their leadership in engineering, entrepreneurship, public health, and community outreach.

Dan Hoff is a healthcare consultant who majored in biomedical engineering at Brown University. Before graduating, Dan completed an independently led research project investigating the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to iron oxide nanoparticles. He published his findings in the International Journal of Nanomedicine. Beginning in 2012, Dan worked as an Associate Consultant for Clarion Healthcare, supporting growth strategies, commercial opportunity assessments, and due diligences for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. From 2014 through the beginning of the HFA Fellowship, Dan worked as an Analyst at Gateway Consulting Group. There, he was involved in product development and implementation of document management software for clients. In addition, Dan has volunteered his time at The Boston Home, a long-term care facility for adults with advanced multiple sclerosis and other progressive neurological diseases.

Amanda Newman is a civically-engaged artist and community organizer based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the HFA team, Amanda worked as an artist, facilitator, and communications coordinator at Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, MD. She led a network of urban planners, community leaders, and local residents in leveraging the arts and community dialogue practices in order to address the unique needs and challenges of a region facing gentrification. While a student at the University of Utah, a range of internships funded by the College of Fine Arts and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program allowed Amanda to explore the impact of the arts on education, social justice movements, and community development. In 2013, Amanda co-founded Connect2Health, a student-led volunteer organization devoted to connecting underserved patients to social resources necessary for greater overall health. As Director, Amanda led an interdepartmental team of students, faculty, physicians, and hospital executives, successfully expanding the program to three clinic locations in Salt Lake City and over 75 volunteers.

May Paquete is a research analyst who worked with the National Academy for State Health Policy before joining HFA. While an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, May majored in Behavioral and Community Health. During this time, she and three classmates authored an award winning grant proposal, Sister to Sister: Life Choices, an intervention targeted to reduce obesity rates in African-American women. In 2012, May was a Health Leads Summer Fellow at Children’s National Medical Center. In this position, May worked in a clinical setting to connect families to basic resources in their communities. This work helped her understand the real life challenges that families are facing and how those problems affect their health. May then spent a year working at Kaiser Permanente, where she worked side by side with clinicians to develop various health and clinical education materials. In addition to interning at Kaiser, May was also selected for a highly competitive internship at the United States Environmental Protection Agency, where she worked on issues from air and radiation to children’s health.

Jake Vildibill graduated from Marquette University this spring with a degree in biomedical engineering. He completed his degree with honors and an emphasis in biomechanics, and he worked on a project developing non-electric hospital equipment for use in underdeveloped areas of the world. Specifically, he focused on the development of a non-electric oxygen concentrator. As part of his senior thesis, Jake led a team to develop a prototype of the device. The concentrator is scheduled to be tested in Ghana in the spring of 2016. Jake also interned at Kyocera America and Rockwell Automation during his undergraduate studies, and he has held internships in labs performing cancer research and treating hazardous waste. Throughout his experiences, Jake has used both C++ and Matlab to tailor software solutions for each position.

Since its founding in 2012, Health for America has received national recognition for its pioneering approach, including the SXSW Dewey Winburne Community Service Award, the Halloran Philanthropy Award, the Global Good Fund Fellowship, and an award from the Case Foundation’s Finding Fearless campaign. More information about the fellowship can be found here.

About MedStar Health and the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) MedStar Health combines the best aspects of academic medicine, research and innovation with a complete spectrum of clinical services to advance patient care. As the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, MedStar has 10 hospitals and more than 250 care sites, including physician offices, ambulatory care and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar has a comprehensive scope of health-related organizations, including the MedStar Health Research Institute and the MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2). MI2 was chartered in 2009 to serve as a catalyst and seed crystal for innovation across MedStar. MI2’s scope includes human factors engineering and safety science; simulation training; digital health and data science; technology development and commercialization; and systems of care delivery. For more information, visit here.

1776 is a global incubator and seed fund that helps engineer the success of the world’s most promising startups tackling important challenges in areas like education, health, energy & sustainability, and transportation & smart cities. Just two years old, 1776 has helped more than 250 startups grow by vetting their viability and connecting them to a “swat team” of support, from investors to mentors, government officials, and institutional market partners that they need to succeed. By creating a global community of startups, mentors, partners, and investors, 1776 is proving that its unique approach to incubation can create a sustained cycle of innovation that connects existing enterprises, corporations, and government entities to the startups that are solving the world’s biggest problems. Visit or @1776 on Twitter for more information.

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