Using CERN technology for medical challenges

The best moments of the CERN Medical Technology Hackathon (Medtech:Hack), 6-9 April 2018. (Video: CERN)

A mobile kit for monitoring health parameters in harsh situations and a scanner for radiopharmaceuticals are the winners of the first CERN Medical Technology Hackathon, Medtech:Hack. At CERN, technology and healthcare experts joined forces to find innovative solutions to current medical challenges.

Aspiring Medtech:Hack participants were asked to use CERN technologies to propose innovative solutions for more efficient cancer radiation therapy, new software toolkits for mammography, viable mobile health tools, or systems for quicker screening of radiopharmaceuticals. These challenges were set by the California company RadiaBeam Technologies, the Swiss healthtech company G-ray, the Global Humanitarian Lab and the Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG).

Out of 25 applications from 14 countries, five teams of students and young professionals were selected to come to CERN from 6 to 9 April to work on their ideas or prototypes. CERN technical know-how was shared and complemented by the challenge mentors, including our two industry partners, HUG medical doctors and experts from the Global Humanitarian Lab. Impact HUB Geneva was also present, helping the teams with their business model development. 

After three days of intense work, the jury had a tough job selecting a winner. In the end, they chose two teams, one from Tanzania and one from Germany. 

The team from Tanzania devised Box.e, a portable device with several sensors for measuring the vital signs of patients, using CERN’s C2MON technology to store and monitor data. More compact than current tools, this mobile health technology could be useful in the humanitarian and development sectors, improving healthcare access in difficult conditions, where standardisation and large-scale connectivity are valuable assets.

The team from Germany came up with Bioscan, a modular hybrid scanner for measuring radioactivity in drugs. Using CERN’s GEMPix detector, this tool promises a quicker way to screen new radiopharmaceuticals in large cell and tissue libraries. 

Both winning teams were awarded a stay at CERN to continue developing their projects. The team from Tanzania presented their idea at the Geneva Health Forum opening ceremony, and the team from Germany won a spot in the second round of judging at MassChallenge Switzerland. 

This hackathon was organised by the CERN Knowledge Transfer group to explore new ways of developing viable applications for CERN technologies in the medical technology field. 

For more details, see the recent CERN community article.