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MIT Grand Hackathon 2017

A scene from last year’s Grand Hack at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A scene from last year’s Grand Hack at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.MIT Grand Hack

More than 400 engineers, clinicians, designers, and developers from around the country will gather this weekend for the fourth annual Massachusetts Institute of Technology Grand Hack with one goal in mind: solving health care’s biggest challenges.

“All you need is compassion about health care and a problem you want solved,” said Sonia Xu, a neurobiology researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital and a member of the 25-person team of students and professionals who coordinate the three-day, intensive program. “It’s really just a playground for anyone who wants to learn.”

This year’s event will feature three broad areas: invisible conditions; robotics and intelligent technologies; and patient care continuum.


According to Khalil Ramadi codirector of the event, the hackathon will begin with a problem-pitching session on a range of issues, from waiting lines to false diagnoses. Participants will be divided into small groups based on their expressed interests. The teams that come up with the most innovative health care solutions will receive cash prizes between $750 and $1,500 and potential funding from startup incubators. Ramadi said each track will have one winner and two finalists.

“Hacking is a different lens of how people look at health care,” said Ramadi, a doctoral candidate at MIT. “It’s not just research or clinical study. It’s highly collaborative.”

Sponsors for this year’s event include biopharmaceutical company UCB, Johnson & Johnson, and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology. Participation for hackers is free.

Ramadi said more than 30 companies have their origins in the MIT Grand Hack, including Hey,Charlie , a company that is developing a smartphone application to aid individuals recovering from opioid dependency.

“We try to help participants find elegant ways to streamline technology,” Ramadi said.

Shelby Grebbin can be reached at shelby.grebbin@globe.com.