Hacking Dermatology Launches its 2020 Innovation Challenge with Focus on Dermatologic Challenges Faced by Patients with Skin of Color

— Partnership Between Advancing Innovation in Dermatology Inc. (AID) and LEO Science & Tech Hub, the Boston-based R&D innovation unit of LEO Pharma, Begins its Third Year —

Applications are now being accepted for Hacking Dermatology 2020, a dermatology innovation challenge that unites clinical and scientific experts, patients, engineers and innovators to reimagine the landscape of patient care. Hacking Dermatology is a partnership between Advancing Innovation in Dermatology Inc. (AID) and the LEO Science & Tech Hub, the Boston-based R&D innovation unit of LEO Pharma.

Winning teams will be awarded a total of $15,000 (USD) in grants – with potential to move on to an advanced challenge with an additional grand prize sum of $25,000 – and entered into an acceleration period to receive mentorship and access to resources to help bring solutions to market. The hackathon will be in a virtual format Oct. 23-25, 2020.

This year’s challenge focus is the unique dermatologic concerns faced by patients with skin of color. Applicants are encouraged to advance ideas and concepts with potential to 1) help shorten diagnostic delay and help sharpen diagnostic accuracy; 2) identify personalized care and diverse clinical trial representation; and 3) empower skin of color education and help create equitable technology advancements.

“Diagnosing and managing skin disease in patients with skin of color represents a challenging and often unmet need in dermatology,” said Seemal R. Desai, MD, FAAD, Immediate Past President of Skin of Color Society; Founder and Medical Director, Innovative Dermatology; and Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

“By providing better insights to innovators and clinicians on specific challenges related to access, diagnostic workup and therapies, I hope we can continue to advance our understanding and service to underrepresented populations. Hacking Dermatology is a phenomenal platform from which we can accelerate finding timely solutions for this important issue,” added Desai.

Participants will attend three days of the hackathon, pitch ideas on Friday’s kickoff event, and join and actively contribute on a team that competes throughout the weekend with winning teams determined on Oct. 25. Mentors will come from a variety of backgrounds and will volunteer to work with multiple teams and provide expertise, guidance and feedback on projects.

“Together with the LEO Science & Tech Hub, we value open science, innovation and collaboration to enable new ideas that can meaningfully benefit patients, healthcare providers and healthcare broadly,” said William Ju, MD, FAAD, President and Founding Trustee of AID. “Our goal is to facilitate productive interactions and create an ecosystem with a shared interest in helping to substantially improve dermatologic health.”

“Hacking Dermatology fits squarely within our remit as we explore cutting-edge science and technology opportunities as well as act as a catalyst to transform early-stage innovations and technologies into solutions for people affected by skin conditions,” said Michael Sierra, Vice President, LEO Science & Tech Hub. “Innovation is vital in the development of innovative technologies that can help make the diagnosis and individualized treatment of skin disease more accessible to wider populations.”

Hacking Dermatology program is comprised of three stages: 1) challenge statement development and identification, 2) the virtual three-day hackathon and 3) an incubation period with additional funding opportunities for the winning teams.

In its the third year, Hacking Dermatology is supported by MIT Hacking Medicine. The group, founded at MIT, carries out health hackathons, design thinking workshops, and networking gatherings to teach healthcare entrepreneurship and develop digital strategies to scale medicine and solve health problems worldwide.

The Hacking Dermatology Steering Committee is made up of a working group of representatives from the founding organizations; these are Olga Afanasiev, MD, PhD, FAAD, private practice dermatologist and co-founder of HealthAI; Jamie Breslin, PhD, Director of Operations and Partnerships, AID; and Kasper Juul, Director of External Innovation, LEO Science & Tech Hub. This year’s event sponsors are the UCSF Rosenman Institute and Gore Range Capital.

Those interested in participating or mentoring can learn more, apply or express interest at: http://www.hackingdermatology.org/.

About Advancing Innovation in Dermatology

Advancing Innovation in Dermatology Inc. (AID) is a non-profit organization committed to catalyzing the development of new solutions that can significantly improve skin health. Through multiple initiatives, activities, and actions, AID provides support, resources, and a nexus for individuals and organizations who are effecting change in dermatology by creating a next generation of innovative and impactful products.

About LEO Science & Tech Hub

The LEO Science & Tech Hub is an R&D innovation unit of LEO Pharma dedicated to identifying, developing, and funding innovative solutions that improve the lives of people with skin diseases. It was founded in 2016 as a catalyst to transform early-stage innovations into solutions for improving the lives of people with skin diseases. The LEO Science & Tech Hub is based in Cambridge, Mass.

About LEO Pharma

LEO Pharma A/S helps people achieve healthy skin, and LEO Pharma Inc. is the company’s U.S. affiliate. The company is a leader in medical dermatology with a robust R&D pipeline, a wide range of therapies and a pioneering spirit. Founded in 1908 and owned by the LEO Foundation, LEO Pharma has devoted decades of research and development to advance the science of dermatology, setting new standards of care for people with skin conditions. LEO Pharma is headquartered in Denmark with a global team of 6,000 people, serving 92 million patients in 130 countries.


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LEO Science & Tech Hub/LEO Pharma
Rhonda Sciarra, 973-637-8019
Associate Director, Global External Communications

Advancing Innovation in Dermatology
Jamie Breslin, PhD., 908-507-5390
Director Operations and Partnerships