MIT Sloan Health Systems Initiative

Two Students from the 2024 Cohort Celebrated at Recent Healthcare Certificate Ceremony

Healthcare remains a strong focus for students at MIT Sloan, although the number of students receiving the certificate each year fluctuates. This year we have 11 recipients from eight programs across MIT including Sloan Fellows, Executive MBA, MBA, Health Sciences and Technology, and Leaders for Global Operations. Each of these students brings a unique perspective that enriches the class discussions with a wide variety of work and life experiences. Two examples follow. Although we’ve chosen these particular students, they are representative of the caliber of the class.

Irena King, (HST PhD ’24) matriculated at the MIT – Harvard HST program directly from the undergraduate neuroscience program at American University. In 2018, in a biotechnology course, she conducted field research about a device design that was developed and proposed by two US Army respiratory therapists. This device, an innovative solution for endotracheal tube fastening, captured King’s interest. She thought, “this seems like such a simple solution to a tremendous problem and I have to make it a reality.” She licensed the patent to the device, which she renamed the Horseshoe, as a foundation for the first product from her start-up, Surgicure.

Credit: L. Maloney

While at MIT, King cemented the company’s value proposition and fine-tuned the Horseshoe, through both classwork and field work. Her company makes devices for clinicians by clinicians and while at MIT she was able to work alongside them experiencing first-hand the challenges in the ICU, OR and ED and capturing deep understanding of the changes the clinicians needed. The courses that King thought were most useful for her were Healthcare Economics, Healthcare Ventures and Strategic Decision Making in the Life Sciences, as all of these contributed to her company’s foundation and progress.

King also was able to take advantage of mentoring by participating in the MIT Sandbox as a funded company and in the MIT Venture Mentoring Service. Currently, the company’s clinical testing is being conducted at MGH. King foresees launching the product officially and building sales by the end of the year. Most recently, King and Surgicure just announced that they have signed a term sheet with Launchpad Venture Group, leading their $1.5M Seed Round.

King summed up her enthusiasm for the Healthcare Certificate Program by saying, “The MIT Sloan Healthcare Certificate program transformed my perspective by immersing me in a community of brilliant minds and innovators. […] [It] solidified my belief in the power of collaboration and convergence, bridging science, technology, medicine, and business to enact meaningful change in healthcare.”

Soujanya Kolla (EMBA ’24), another healthcare certificate recipient, comes from a very different background. She is a career techie and was a people and program manager at Intel. She helped launch seven Intel flagship microprocessors. Outside of work, Kolla is a real estate entrepreneur and a community leader who furthers women’s leadership. Completing an MBA was a 20-year dream of hers, but various commitments kept her from pursuing the degree until very recently.

Credit: L. Maloney

During the seven years prior to MIT, Kolla’s goal was to further DEI using a two-pronged approach: preparing neuro-diverse kids for mainstream inclusion and making the mainstream ready for these kids. While at MIT, she stayed committed to this goal and created her start-up, Social Translate. Social Translate aims to enhance the social integration of neuro-diverse individuals through gamified and closed-loop learning methods.

What started as an idea during Prof Aulet's Disciplined Entrepreneurship course took shape during IDEA week. Every subsequent course, including Operations Management, System Dynamics, and Marketing Management, helped shape the venture. MIT's action learning curriculum provided applicable frameworks. Receiving MIT's Sandbox Funding for two semesters was thrilling, Kolla said. “It was a huge validation of my venture. Apart from financial support, the mentorship and exposure to the ecosystem were incredible.”

Kolla believes that the Healthcare Certificate was key for Social Translate. Core courses like Healthcare Lab and Economics of Healthcare Industries offered a comprehensive understanding of the healthcare sector's strategies, policies, and challenges. These classes helped her better understand the U.S. healthcare industry landscape, exposed her to healthcare analytics and the emphasized the importance of a systematic approach to health management. Guest speakers shared insights about innovation, and hands-on projects with healthcare startups solidified the learnings, giving her the confidence to continue working on Social Translate.

The Healthcare Certificate focuses on applying business principles to healthcare and fundamentally addresses the question of “how do you get more effective care in a more cost-effective way from a business standpoint.” Certificate courses apply many perspectives, including operations, economics and entrepreneurship; require one action learning project related to health; and offers electives in healthcare finance, biomedical innovations, data science, and others. These two graduates are examples of the type of influence this program can have on start-up successes.