Innovación en la Ciencia interesante perspectiva.

Science-Driven Innovation: The Final Frontier

Science-Driven Innovation: The Final Frontier 1

Randy Lyhus for the chronicle

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By Donald Ingber

There has been a great deal of discussion recently—much of it fraught with frustration—about the challenges facing our nation’s academic communities: How do we support basic curiosity-driven research and maintain our position as the global leader in innovation and technology at a time of rapidly dwindling government funds? This dilemma was at the heart of a workshop convened by the National Academies that I attended in September in Washington.

One potential solution, much discussed at the conference, is through the creation of a new model of transdisciplinary research that pulls together investigators from many disciplines to focus, or converge, on high-value, near-term goals. This excites the industrial sector because it generates information that can more quickly translate into commercial innovation, but many people in the scientific community are frankly terrified by this approach. They feel that focusing on solving specific problems in the short term could steal funds from fundamental, investigator-driven research that delves into new terrain—essentially, the scientific equivalent of Captain Kirk’s “final frontier”—and which often uncovers high-value problems and solutions that no one knew existed.

There is a solution to this conundrum. I serve as founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, which develops engineering innovations by emulating how nature builds. With support from a major philanthropic gift, and from visionary leadership at Harvard and our affiliated hospitals and universities, we developed a new model of innovation, collaboration, and technology translation that has attracted more than $125-million in research support from federal agencies, private foundations, and for-profit companies.

With 18 core and 11 associate faculty members, we have produced more than 625 publications, 600 patent applications, scores of corporate collaborations, several start-ups, and two human clinical trials over the past four and a half years.

How do we do this? Our approach is simple: We empower our individual scientists and engineers to turn their vision-inspired research into practical solutions to real-world problems. We give them the resources they need to translate their basic research into technologies and then help them to develop those technologies into commercially viable products and therapies. We do this by introducing scientists and engineers with extensive industrial experience in goal-oriented product development into key positions in our academic-research teams. Experienced business-development staff members, working with the university’s Office of Technology Development, also help coordinate these efforts and develop meaningful alliances with major industrial partners and corporate investors.

How can such an approach succeed in an academic empire composed of fiefdoms headed by entrepreneurial faculty who guard their territories with their lives? Our core faculty members, who are drawn from universities and hospitals across the Greater Boston area, maintain labs at their home institutions. But they know that if they want a seat at the round table of the institute, they must leave their personal agendas at the door and agree to participate in the collaborative culture for the benefit of all. Our research space is not allocated to individual faculty but rather organized as “collaboratories,” each of which is linked to a problem-oriented project.

We have also discarded the conventional model of grant reviews to distribute funds to our members. Instead we divide a portion of our funds among individual faculty members, which gives them and their students and fellows complete creative freedom. We then funnel a much larger investment into “enabling technology platforms,” each devoted to exploring a new high-risk research area. These platforms—consisting of faculty, technical staff, students, fellows, clinicians, and collaborators—build upon the brilliant advances that emerge from individual faculty labs to develop new breakthrough technological capabilities. In the end, it is always people who lead to innovation, not grant proposals or committees. So we invest in people.

Our nation desperately wants solutions to pressing health, environmental, and social problems and so, understandably, the impulse in Congress is to direct resources to goal-oriented, convergent research. But this leaves basic-science investigators in a quandary: Does the funneling of research dollars mean a temporary refocusing of investment or a catastrophic long-term shift toward a new mode of funding that will lead to their extinction? The latter is not a viable investment strategy for the continued growth of the economy.

Very simply, for the country to remain at the helm of innovation, it must persuade its best minds to continue thinking and discovering. It must provide funds to nurture their vision-inspired research—to pump the idea pipeline—while simultaneously investing in the kind of convergent, problem-oriented approaches that will turn basic discoveries into transformative technologies and commercially viable products. Only then will we be able to steer our national Enterprise to go where it has never gone before.

Donald Ingber is founding director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and a professor in the medical and engineering schools there.

En The chronicle of higer education


Romper un huevo una cuestión de “competencias” en la cocina

Después de mucho buscar al fin di con esta entrada y video en el blog de User Experience de Marc Hassenzahl. Donde nos muestra un ejercicio que los estudiantes de User Experience realizaron a partir de la premisa de como mejorar y hacer más divertida la experiencia de un niño rompiendo un huevo en la cocina. 

Es el concepto del diseño de experiencias donde el enfoque es en la experiencia y no en el producto. Véanlo y luego lo comentamos en clase.

Eggsplat – a competence experience

A three year old – especially if she is your own daughter – is definitely sweet. What else could a parent say? However, if it comes to particular activities, the explosive mixture of will, stubbornness and underdeveloped motor skills can be a true nightmare. Take baking, and especially cracking the eggs, as an example. Every kid wants to do it, none is good at it, and you end up with a lot of eggshell in the batter. What is needed is a way for three year olds to crack eggs in an experiential way. In a student project on experience design, Luisa Dursun and Annabell Meierkordt, devised a tool – Eggsplat – which is supposed to make cracking eggs fun. It does so by fulfilling universal psychological needs: The child feels competent and autonomous. Through this, Eggsplat may make the child a more equal partner in the baking activity, which in turn may reflect upon the child-parent relationship – their feelings of relatedness and closeness.

This movie shows cracking eggs without and with Eggsplat. (Note that all recordings are spontaneous.) In the first episode the child is hesitant; cracking the eggs is awkward, she is afraid of dropping eggshell into the batter. She even asks her father for not being mad at her – he tries to assure her that this won’t be the case (but may be not as convincingly as possible). With Eggsplat the child just enjoys cracking the eggs. She actually demands more, another one, daddy, another one. This pleasure is not induced by shallow amusement or effects, but through a deep understanding of what matters to the child and how to enable according activities. This is the core principle of experience design. It is not about efficiency, but about inducing and shaping meaningful experiences. For more on Experience Design take a look at my book.

6 maneras de mejorar el cuarto de espera

Six Ways To Improve Doctors’ Waiting Rooms

Spanish design consultancy Fuelfor shows how better design can reduce patients’ anxiety while they wait (and wait and wait) at the doctor’s office.

Waiting endlessly in a doctor’s office ranks up there as one of life’s premier annoyances, right alongside queuing up at the DMV and getting manhandled at airport security. Short of overhauling our overstretched health care system, though, the problem isn’t going away anytime soon. Luckily, design can make it a hell of a lot more tolerable.

So suggests Fuelfor, a Spanish design consultancy, which compiled a case study on “Rethinking the waiting room.” Research has shown that a well-designed waiting room — one that includes everything from comfortable chairs to clear signage to easy-to-use patient response forms — can bolster how patients feel about the care they receive and even streamline the care process itself. Fuelfor has identified six ways of dramatically improving waiting rooms. We’ve summarized them below:

Comfortable seating
Waiting when you’re sick is bad enough. Waiting in a crappy chair when you’re sick is downright galling. What’s more, what’s comfortable for one patient might be deeply uncomfortable, or even painful, for another. Fuelfor proposes a modular seating system, called MODU, that can be adapted to different offices and individuals. Movable armrests and seating pads with various amounts of cushion let people create their own little comfort zone. Planters keep the air feeling fresh and displays at the end of each bench apprise patients of their wait time. Acoustic separators eke out space for private phone calls.

Manageable queues
“Queue management displays in waiting rooms make people feel physically tied to one spot,” Fuelfor writes. Taking a number isn’t much better — it’s impersonal and disposable (not unlike your average doctor’s appointment). Fuelfor’s solution: feature wait-time displays prominently in multiple places, not just over the central counter. People who don’t want to hang around the waiting room can download Inline, a conceptual iPhone app that reveals their number in the queue with a clear, simple interface. It also lets patients book appointments, locate the room of their appointment, and track medications, among other health-management features.

Clear medical records
More and more, medical records are going digital, but Fuelfor suggests a low-tech alternative to ensure that people can simply and viscerally manage their own health. With FOLIO, patients store their medications and appointment dates in paper wallets that be thrown in a purse or back pocket and carted easily to the doctor’s office. At the office, they use the FOLIO info to fill out “Prepare,” a patient-response form that asks simple questions in a clear format designed to prevent mistakes. After the appointment, doctors fill out a separate “Remember” form that includes prescriptions and other health advice. It might sound like a lot of paperwork, but with good graphic design, it can actually feel pretty simple.

Healthy food
It’s always hilarious (in a depressing way) to see vending machines full of chips, candy, and soda at medical clinics that are supposed to be billboards for healthy living. Fuelfor conceived of a vending machine that dispenses water, apples, and other nutritious snacks while you wait. It’s even designed like a kitchen counter to emphasize the idea that smart eating starts at home.

Welcoming signage
Doctors’ waiting rooms can feel terribly impersonal and bureaucratic. To inject a modicum of humanity, Fuelfor recommends throwing up welcome boards that introduce the doctors on duty (complete with portraits, so they aren’t just faceless names) and post information about healthy activities and classes, like yoga for seniors and cooking lessons.

Communal space
Fuelfor says that communal tables can help reduce patients’ anxiety in a waiting room. We’re not totally sold on this one. People like privacy. Especially sick people. Then again, if you’re at the doctor’s office with your family, a large table where you can gather and discuss sensitive medical problems makes a lot of sense. It could also figure prominently during medical consultations (just as long as it isn’t, you know, too communal). Think about it: Instead of parking it on an examination table while your doctor dispenses advice that you can’t even pay attention to because you feel so awkward in your ridiculous little gown, you could meet at a big, roomy table — clothes on, dignity intact.

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