From Music to Magic & Innovation to Execution: Village Innovation Day Spotlight
On a trip to Methodist Hospital, I encountered the da Vinci robot, a system for robotic surgery. The machine used various artificial intelligence techniques to teach the system underlying algorithms for subtasks including cutting, suturing, palpation, dissection, retraction, and debridement. Understanding how AI could revolutionize healthcare opened my eyes to the impact an interdisciplinary approach could yield.
Little did I know, a deep fascination with this phenomenon would manifest itself into months of effort, weeks of sleepless nights, and hours of research. It became the pivotal spark for my best friend Divya Khatri and I’s innovation: NeuRhythm.
NeuRhythm is our patent-pending neurotherapy headset that uses patient-personalized music and multi-class neural networks (an AI approach) to ease anxiety and stressful disorientation in Alzheimer’s patients.
On March 3, 2022, I had the honor and privilege of displaying my work with NeuRhythm at The Village High School’s annual Innovation Day summit as both a stage presenter and keynote speaker. I addressed an audience of parents, students, and visitors on the importance of innovation in education and how my journey with NeuRhythm changed my life.
In 2022, months of hard work came to fruition when NeuRhythm was named a Conrad Challenge Global Innovator and an MIT THINK Semifinalist. I was inducted into the Sigma Xi: Scientific Research Honor Society and my partner and I applied for a provisional patent for our design.
But more than the accolades and honors, NeuRhythm allowed me to move beyond the content of youth and attempt to investigate the ways in which time and age distort our memories of the ones we love. In a world that has become increasingly data-driven, where patients can so easily devolve into lists of numbers and be forced into algorithmic boxes in search of an exact diagnosis, my journey with NeuRhythm taught me the importance of considering the many dimensions of the human condition. The notion that Alzheimer’s patients could not only hear but be touched and healed by music through therapeutic technology transformed my perspective on innovation in medicine.
The medical field should be involved with innovation because what doctors do is a direct result of it. When you take up the responsibility to care for someone, you better get it right, and you better be there when it doesn’t go right. In STEM, you are in a unique position to see problems and deal with them. A position that allows a creative mind to think, “Well, maybe there’s a better way.”
I like to think back to Tom Fogarty’s story about being a scrub tech when he saw patients with blood clots in the artery of their leg and surgeons who operated on them. Fogarty, a surgeon, made a simple observation that most of those patients came back for amputation. He wasn’t even in medical school then, but he pioneered the use of a balloon catheter to extract the clot and, as a result, changed the way we think about treating blood clots in the leg. That simple observation has now been used in more than 20 million patients.
Innovation is observation, and observation takes perspective and patience. It often takes more than what’s before the eyes to truly understand the value and course of your craft.
The puzzle. The mystery of it all. By throwing challenge after challenge at me, my journey with innovation through NeuRhythm helped me fall in love with this mystery of STEM over and over, ultimately paving my path for a career in neuroscience. Hence, Innovation Day at Village this year brought me an entirely new meaning to the concept itself. Innovation: Cultivate what you know to optimize how you decide.
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