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Dayton Law Student Wins Award At Major Healthcare Competition

As Sarah Covington prepared to compete with hundreds of professionals from around the world in an attempt to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges, she kept coming back to something that had been talked about in her law school classes that week.

“Professor VanZandt kept driving home the importance of being direct and succinct,” Sarah says. “So I was channeling that.”

The advice helped Sarah and her team win one of the top awards at this year’s MIT Grand Hack, an event that brought together more than 950 people with job titles ranging from doctor to designer. At the Grand Hack, those experts are split into teams of 5-7 people and given the task of coming up with innovative solutions to major problems in healthcare.

Sarah’s team included a doctor from Australia, an A.I. expert from India, medical students from the U.S. and England and others. Along with being a student in the University of Dayton School of Law’s Hybrid J.D. program, Sarah’s experience includes having an M.B.A. and being Chief Operating Officer for a health technology startup company.

“I really enjoy the collaboration,” Sarah says. “It’s awesome to see the synergy and byproduct of cooperating with people from around the globe. One plus one doesn’t equal two at these events, it equals a million.”

Since Sarah had taken part in other MIT events earlier in the year, she acted as the group’s leader.

“My role was keeping everybody together and making sure we didn’t go down rabbit holes,” Sarah says.

The group had from Friday night to Sunday afternoon to work out its idea before giving a three-minute presentation to the judges.

Sarah’s group was assigned the cancer track. Together those in the group came up with an idea to leverage third party technology which uses a smartphone camera as a way of keeping track of a patient’s vitals as the basis for an algorithm to suggest real-time, individualized treatment plans for providers and alerts to patients of applicable clinical trials based upon their individual biomarkers identified in the treatment plan algorithm.

Sarah’s law school lesson of making sure the group’s presentation to the judges was clear and succinct paid off when they were awarded second place.

For Sarah the competition was a reminder of how her J.D. will help her improve her efforts to find solutions to problems in healthcare.

“There are so many incredible ideas that come out of these weekends,” Sarah says. “It re-energizes you to stay the course.”

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