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PRODUCED BY AND FOR MEMBERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY November 2015 | Archived Issues

P & T Approvals, FDA Warning About Hepatitis Drugs, Statement About Plavix

Pharmacy Focus

See highlights of the October meeting of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a warning regarding the risk of serious liver injury with use of hepatitis treatments Viekira Pak and Technivie, and the agency says long-term use of Plavix does not change the risk of death for patients with heart disease.


Mark Your Calendar


Surgery Grand Rounds

Click the "read more" to see information about upcoming Surgery Grand Rounds.


Grand Rounds

Click here to view a schedule of all upcoming grand rounds.


Education Schedule

Click the PDF links below to see the Department of Surgery's education schedule.

Education Schedule - December 2015 (PDF)  


Surgery Scheduling

Click the "read more" for hours and contact information for surgery scheduling.

Share Your News

Know an interesting colleague we should profile? A story we should tell? Submit your ideas, meetings and events for consideration.

Click here to submit your news to Sutures

Building New Solutions to Improve Patients' Lives

Bruce L. Gewertz, MD, Cedars-Sinai surgeon-in-chief and chair of the Department of Surgery, (right) conferred with his fellow judges during Startup Weekend LA, Healthcare.

Startup Competition is Part of Cedars-Sinai Initiative to Accelerate Innovation

It was a weekend of hard work and sleepless nights that began with about 35 entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts — most of whom had just met — brainstorming about ways to improve healthcare. It ended with applause and high fives as seven teams pitched new business models they had designed during an intense 54 hours, with the goal of making life better for patients around the world.

Between the beginning of the "Startup Weekend LA, Healthcare" event on Nov. 13 at a Cedars-Sinai facility and the final presentations on Nov. 15, individuals with very different skills and levels of experience took a deep dive into an intense, fast-paced process of transforming ideas into patient-centered healthcare solutions.

Omkar Kulkarni, MPH, Healthcare Innovation Accelerator director at Cedars-Sinai, helped organize the "idea competition" in collaboration with Techstars, a company that helps entrepreneurs around the world build successful businesses by providing support to accelerate the pace of innovation.

Among the participants were two Cedars-Sinai employees as well as a number of seasoned entrepreneurs and budding innovators. To enhance the educational value of the event, Kulkarni invited seven middle school students from the Incubator School in West Los Angeles, which provides early exposure to the experience of creating entrepreneurial ventures.

The students worked closely with the adults throughout the weekend. In fact, two 12-year-olds — along with Christina Yip, a data analyst in Cedars-Sinai Nursing Research and Development — were on the team that took first place.

The winning business models included a personalized patient education technology platform that earned the top prize — a chance to enter a video competition called the Global Startup Battle — as well as an online program to match licensed clinicians with healthcare facilities facing staff shortages and a one-stop online site that coordinates nonclinical services to help the elderly safely "age in place."

Bruce L. Gewertz, MD — surgeon-in-chief, chair of the Department of Surgery and the Harriet and Steven Nichols Distinguished Chair in Surgery — served on the judging panel along with Mandy Salzman, director at Techstars for Disney Accelerator, and Ash Kumra, Trade Kraft co-founder and CEO and a best-selling author. Gewertz is also vice president of Interventional Services and vice dean of Academic Affairs.

Throughout the weekend of brainstorming and business planning, mentors from Cedars-Sinai stopped by to share their healthcare expertise and offer business design guidance to the teams. Joseph Castongia, manager of Care Innovation and Design, said he was there to do for the startup teams what he does for Cedars-Sinai — help them "reimagine the way healthcare is delivered."

Castongia talked with the teams about the importance of understanding patients' emotions, attitudes and behaviors in order to come up with "human-centered" business models and solutions that will lead to a better healthcare experience as well as better health.

"It was interesting to see different types of people from the community come together to explore the possibilities of what the future of healthcare could look like — and to do so in a rapid-fire way that was really impressive," Castongia said. "The teams did an immense amount of work and came up with solid foundations for innovative products, services and solutions in just three days."

The weekend's activities are part of a broader Cedars-Sinai initiative to mentor entrepreneurial minds to drive breakthroughs in healthcare innovation. Cedars-Sinai recently announced a five-year partnership with Techstars to establish the Techstars Healthcare Accelerator in Partnership with Cedars-Sinai.

The three-month program, to be conducted annually, enables top healthcare technology entrepreneurs to grow their businesses with the help of funding and guidance provided by Cedars-Sinai leadership, clinicians and thought leaders, and by the Techstars network of more than 7,000 startup founders, mentors, investors and corporate partners. The accelerator program will accept 10-12 startup companies per class with pioneering ideas to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of health and healthcare delivery.

Gewertz, one of a number of Cedars-Sinai leaders who serve on the advisory board of the Techstars Healthcare Accelerator partnership, noted that Cedars-Sinai's commitment to mentoring creative minds — within the medical center and in the community — is vital to staying ahead of the curve. "Being generous with our expertise and nurturing talented entrepreneurs helps keep Cedars-Sinai at the cutting edge of innovation in healthcare," he said.


Christina Yip, a Cedars-Sinai data analyst, spoke for her team, which took first place in the competition.

Two Cedars-Sinai Employees Explore Startup World

Christina Yip, a data analyst in Nursing Research and Development, had to push herself to step up to the podium and talk about a healthcare business model she helped create during the three-day "Startup Weekend LA, Healthcare" event at Cedars-Sinai's Center for Clinical Innovation.

"I was nervous, but I thought this would be a really great opportunity to work on my public speaking skills," she said. "I'm really glad I spoke up."

"She did great," said Russ Dollinger, a Northridge entrepreneur who took an idea to the event that Yip and two other team members — Jordon Raeford and Emma Hanna, 12-year-olds from the Incubator School in West Los Angeles — helped develop during the three-day competition.

Michael Tran, a Performance Improvement facilitator at Cedars-Sinai, said the event motivated him to work on a business model for his idea.

Their concept for a business called MyNextGen Health won first place in the competition among seven teams. MyNextGen Health is a personalized patient education technology platform designed to overcome barriers to understanding pre- and post-operative instructions. Yip and her teammates will now have an opportunity to take their idea to the next level through a global video competition.

"I had the initial germ of the idea, but everyone contributed," Dollinger said. "The kids did some amazing things, including an online survey and the graphs for our presentation. And Christina was a very important part of the team. She worked hard on the nitty-gritty details. She was very focused."

Yip said this was her first startup experience. "I'm very interested in healthcare technology, and I wanted to understand the startup process from beginning to end," she said. "It was a great learning experience — and a lot of work. I definitely did not get my usual eight hours of sleep."

Michael Tran, a Performance Improvement facilitator at Cedars-Sinai, also played an important role as a team member in the competition.

Tran's team created a software platform called Reflect that empowers the elderly to live safely at home by making it possible for loved ones to track their daily activities from a distance. Tran said he contributed fall-detection advice to the platform that was inspired by concern for his own parents.

"I've always had ideas like this, but I'd talk myself out of pursuing them because I didn't have the technological know-how," he said. "This event put me in touch with people with different skill sets and motivated me to vet my idea and work on a business model. I learned a lot."