Zika Innovation Hack-a-thon

April 2-3, 2016| Boston

In the face of the Zika public health crisis, more than 150 global health experts and innovators came together April 2-3, 2016 at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) for a Zika Innovation Hack-a-thon to develop new solutions to address the spread of the Zika virus and related outbreaks.

Participants worked around the clock to pitch ideas, form cross-disciplinary teams, and present 15 innovations with the potential to combat Zika and other infectious disease outbreaks around the world.

Click here for the full event report.

Check-out the winners!

A total of $4,000 was awarded to winning teams in the following categories:

  • The Most Innovative Solution: Team Larva Finder – an add-on device to a smart phone with a supporting mobile application that detects the presence and geographic location of specific larvae species
  • The Most Implementable Solution: LAD (Larvicide Automatic Dispenser) – An automatic dispenser that helps ensure adequate larvicide dosing through the use of a water buoy
  • Innovations That Promise the Greatest Public Health Impact (supported in part by Grand Challenges Canada):
    • Team Relix – a mobile tool that allows users to report high-risk mosquito breeding areas
    • Team Phairies – a game that teaches children about mosquito risks and vector control strategies

Day 1 – Saturday, April 2, 2016

8:00 – 9:00 AM
Registration, Breakfast, Networking
9:00 – 10:30 AM
Welcome Addresses, Keynotes, Hack-a-thon Overview
9:05 – 9:15 AM
Welcome Address – CAMTech (Elizabeth Bailey, Director, CAMTech, MGH)
9:15 – 9:25 AM
Welcome Address – GDR (Dr. Hilarie Cranmer, Director, Global Disaster Response, MGH)
9:25 – 9:30 AM
Welcome Address – GE Foundation (Dr. David Barash)
9:30 – 9:45 AM
Keynote Speech – Amy Pope (Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President at National Security Council, The White House)
9:45 – 10:00 AM
Keynote Speech – Dr. Nestor Sosa (Director, The Gorgas Memorial Institute of Panama)
10:00 – 10:10 AM
USAID Grand Challenge (Wendy Taylor, Director, Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact at USAID)
10:10 – 10:15 AM
From Hack - a - thon to Life - Saving Innovation: AIR (Dr. Kris Olson, Medical Director, CAMTech, MGH)
10:15 – 10:25 AM
Hacking 101 (MIT Hacking Medicine)
10:25 – 10:30 AM
10:30 – 10:40 AM
10:40 – 11:50 AM
Voices from the Field Panel Discussion

(Confirmed panelists:
Dr. Hilarie Cranmer (Moderator)
Susan Robinson (CDC)
Claudia Garcia Serpa Osorio - De - Castro (Professor, Sergio Arouca National School of Public Health)
Dr. Michael Callahan (ID MGH))
Everton Baker (Director, Vector Control, MoH Jamaica)
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins (Department of State’s Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation)
Dr. Nestor Sosa (Director, The Gorgas Memorial Institute of Panama)
11:50 – 12:00 PM
12:00 – 1:00 PM
Pitching Challenges
1:00 PM
Lunch, Hacking begins
1:00 – 1:30 PM
Mentor debrief
1:30 PM
Hack shop opens
3:30 PM
3D Printing Presentation Workshop with Design that Matters
7:00 PM
Dinner, Hack shop closes
11:59 PM
Deadline for team registration

Day 2 – Sunday, April 3, 2016

9:00 AM
Breakfast, hacking continues
9:30 AM
Hack shop opens
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Practice pitch sessions
1:00 PM
1:30 PM
Hack shop closes
1:30 PM
Judge debrief/overview
2:00 PM
Final presentations begin
3:45 PM
Break during judges’ deliberation
4:00 – 4:30 PM
Feedback session

Zika Innovation Hack-a-thon Challenges

These clinical challenges were sourced from our network of healthcare experts specializing in infectious disease control around the world. Participants are welcome to work beyond what is listed below!

Theme -The Mosquito
For decades, killing disease-transmitting mosquitos and their eggs by use of chemicals has been the main mechanism for prevention of vector-borne illnesses such as Malaria, Dengue and now Zika. This can be expensive, time consuming, and complicated. Current attempts to curtail Zika and other vector-borne illnesses focus on genetically modified mosquitos, but this has not yet proved to be an effective intervention. What are other innovative, easily accessible, timely, and affordable methods to disrupt the life cycle of the mosquito and protect people? What are new ways to approach vector control?
Theme - The Person
There is a need for safer, more effective personal protective gear that can guard against vector-borne diseases, especially in the home and workplace. How can we think beyond chemically treated skin, clothing, and bednets? What are some alternative ways to alter living environments and workspaces so that people are less susceptible to exposure, vector bites, and disease transmission? How can we recognize exposure and diagnose the disease more quickly and efficiently?
Theme - The Clinic
Diagnosing the Zika virus is complex, because often the symptoms overlap with other vector-borne diseases like Dengue and Chikungunya. Healthcare providers and lab researchers are still trying to understand how to correctly identify, treat and communicate with patients about Zika. How can we improve the patient experience and support healthcare workers with better innovations to treat Zika?
Theme - The Community
The public health response is an integral part of dealing with vector-borne illnesses and affected populations. A key aspect to a rapid and effective response involves developing novel approaches to diagnose and track outbreaks, as well as collecting and reporting data in real time. We need faster and more efficient ways of communicating risks, which includes utilizing mobile technology and social messaging to aid in the public health response. How do we bend the bio-surveillance curve to our advantage?
Theme - The Future
The frequency of infectious disease outbreaks continues to increase. Climate change and rapid and chaotic urbanization have elevated our risk of contracting vector-borne illnesses. Rapidly responding to such threats - in part through open-innovation in which collective thought across disciplines is championed - will be increasingly important to mitigate risks, improve health, and save lives. How might we course-correct, predict future outbreaks, and improve our response to future threats?

Zika Virus Facts and Figures – Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Response to Zika: What We Know, What We Don’t Know – Center for Disease Control and Prevention
The 2015-2016 Zika Outbreak Infographic – Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Aedes Aegypti Mosquito – Facts to Know – Pan American Health Organization
Preventing Mosquito Breeding Sites in and Around Your Home – Pan American Health Organization
What is Zika? Symptoms, Prevention, Treatment – Pan American Health Organization
Zika Virus and Potential Complications – Questions and Answers – World Health Organization
Target Product Profiles (TPPs) Zika Virus Infection Diagnostic Tests – World Health Organization
The Zika Virus: What You Need to Know – The White House
Team of Rival Scientists Comes Together to Fight Zika – The New York Times

Zika Hack Accommodations

Below are Boston lodging options during the weekend of April 2nd -3rd, 2016. All are within a 5-10 minute cab ride to the Richard B. Simches Research Center (event location). We encourage you to make reservations as soon as possible.

Price Estimate
Location/Contact Number
Airbnb Boston
Beacon Hill:$154-453/night
Back Bay: $115-$625/night
Beacon Hill, Back Bay
Cambridge, MA
Hyatt Regency Cambridge
575 Memorial Dr
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 492-1234
Hotel Commonwealth
500 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 933-5000
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Cambridge
400 Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02134
(617) 783-0090
Holiday Inn Express Cambridge
250 Monsignor O'Brien Highway
Cambridge, MA 02141
(617) 577-7600
Marriott Copley
110 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 236-5800
Royal Sonesta
40 Edwin H Land Blvd
Cambridge, MA 02142
(617) 806-4200
The Charles Hotel
1 Bennett St
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 864-1200

CAMTech Sponsors and Partners