“You’re in a room where treaties are negotiated, and today it’s covered in sticky notes,” said DJ Patil, PhD, chief data scientist in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, as he welcomed guests on behalf of President Obama to the White House last Thursday. An eclectic mix of health-care stakeholders were there for a special workshop, co-hosted by Stanford Medicine X and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, that was focused on a core principle of the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative — engaging participants as partners in research.


“Forget everything you think you know about medical research and how it’s done,” Larry Chu, MD, executive director of Stanford Medicine X, who is shown at right, challenged participants. “I’d like you to put on your beginner’s cap and join us today to reimagine a future of medical research where everyone is included.” Chu was invited by the White House to co-create and co-host this unique event in recognition of Medicine X’s leadership in precision medicine and engaging patients as partners in academic medicine.


This workshop also exemplified Medicine X’s Everyone Included (a trademarked phrase) values, bringing together a diverse group of health-care stakeholders to brainstorm ways to improve medical research. Patients, students, entrepreneurs, publishers, researchers, government officials and three members from the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine — Kyle Harrison, MD; Bassam Kadry, MD; and Michael O’Reilly, MD — convened to tackle the challenging questions in research and share their own experiences.


Among the main questions addressed were:

  • How do we have patients help shape research priorities?
  • How can we streamline the research process and help patients find and enroll in clinical trials more easily?
  • How do we involve participants in co-creating research questions and studies?
  • How can we work to better return research results to participants?
  • How do we involve patients in reviewing, publishing and disseminating research results?


The day kicked off with a series of talks that focused on what’s currently working in research and offered examples of partnership with patients. Kate McCall-Kiley, a presidential innovation fellow, addressed the current shortcomings of clinical trials. “Trials are perceived as a last effort and are usually offered at [the end of a patient’s] care,” she said, posing the question how trials would be different if patients co-created them. José Merino, MD, U.S. clinical research editor for the British Medical Journal, shared how the peer-review process at the BMJ was changed to include patients as reviewers.

Following the talks, participants took part in small-group design thinking sessions led by health-care designers. After a few rounds of “speed thinking,” they covered the walls with ideas on making medical research more inclusive. (Among the ideas that emerged: collating a directory of patients interested in participating in research and creating a “matchmaking” system with existing directories of clinical trials.) Discussions continued on Friday morning at Johns Hopkins’ Sibley Innovation Hub, where participants were able to follow-up and elaborate on ideas from the day before.

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