Dermacool is working to reduce progressive tissue damage in pre-hospitalised burns patients.
What drew you to the problem you are working to solve in Biodesign?
Devaki: Burns are an extensively high-burden injury in the acute and chronic phase, with life-long biopsychosocial impacts. Our team has always been very keen to address the root of where burns injuries begin. There is no simple standard of care in burns first aid that provides consistent cooling, which is the area we are investigating.
Eldin: The main driver behind my motives was the realisation that most burn patient are in a way, patients for life. The physiological and psychological scars following a burn can be a heavy burden for the victims to carry by themselves and I wanted to help them ease that burden, even if by just a little bit.
Daphne: I was drawn to the complexity of burns. The intricate nature of a burn wound is unlike anything I have ever studied – from the diverse depth, range, and scarring intensities,I learned no two burns are the same. Being a cancer researcher who works on the tumour microenvironment, I found interesting parallels and was fascinated by the burn milieu. However, what motivated my interest more was the desire to help reduce the intense trauma faced by burns patients. Having a partner who was scalded as a child and who still bears scars across his chest and arm, it definitely hit a “soft spot”. Moreover, my clinical immersion with Professor Dale Edgar from the Fiona Wood Foundation was nothing short of exhilarating!
Team members Alishum Ali, Eldin Rostom, Daphne Lakhiani, Devaki Wallooppillai and Richard Macliver.
Alumni Mentor: Martina Mariano
Business Mentor: Andrew Barker
What have you learned/gained from the Biodesign process?
Daphne: This course will be one of those experiences I will talk about for years to come. You know, the kind you tell your grandkids? Yes, those. It’s been one of the most intense courses I have ever undertaken, especially alongside completing the final year of my PhD, but it’s been worth it! The learning curve has been steep but beautifully paved with the most generous mentors and sincere guidance anyone could ask for. I felt supported every step of the way, and I leave the course feeling reassured that regardless of the problem at hand, we are never tackling them alone. This was a powerful revelation to me, because in the grand scheme of things, taking on real world problems head on can be very daunting if you feel you are tackling them alone; but when you know you are supported by like-minded individuals who share a common vision for a better world and a brighter future, everything feels a lot more attainable. I have gained invaluable networks with very special people and my greatest lesson has been conscious empowerment – belief in oneself, enabled by the support of great individuals who have taught me the courage to take action.
What are the next steps for the team/team members after the course?
Alishum: The team has a burning passion for translating the efforts put in during the last 6 months into clinical solutions to improve the lives of burns patients. Our ability as a team to identify relevant unmet clinical needs, widely validate with all stakeholders and innovate solutions to meet those needs has given us the traction needed to move forward into prototyping, organising preclinical trials and seek seed funding. Also, the extensive support we have received from the local innovation ecosystem and leaders in the field of burns management, has further encouraged our resolve to incorporate into a private medical devices company and begin our lives as leaders in the burns first aid arena.
What would be your advice to someone considering taking the course in 2019?
Eldin: Put your heart and soul in the program but don’t be afraid to stop and listen to the people around you. You will meet people from various backgrounds with very different opinions which might even appear strange to you at times, but you will all share the same passion for addressing unmet clinical needs. There are some walls in medical innovation that an individual cannot break through. But if there is power out there that can, it is the power of a group of liked minded and passionate people, no matter how young or inexperienced they may be.
Alishum: The first thing that I would say to a person considering to take the course is that they have made the right choice because there is no current rivalling opportunity that will allow you to realise both your dream of innovating and helping people in an extremely accelerated manner. From this experience you will emerge an empowered person that is wiser, more resilient, knowledgeable, capable and well networked to pursue your dreams.
Richard: Be open to advice. Everyone that is accepted into the course is a high achiever and used to being the smartest in the room. This course will test your way of thinking and it is important to take on the feedback that is given to you.
Richard is a healthcare consultant in the business and performance consulting unit at PwC working on a variety of healthcare projects spanning from strategy to execution. He is passionate about innovation, policy and strategy in healthcare that provides an ecosystem for continuous and timely improvement to patient outcomes.
Daphne is a UWA graduate with a first class honours degree in Biomedical Science. She is currently in the final year of her PhD in cancer research at the Harry Perkins Institute, having been awarded an IPRS scholarship. Daphne is also heavily involved in medical research fundraising and was named Miss Singapore Intercontinental in 2012.
Eldin was born and raised in Mauritius before moving to Australia to study for a Bachelor of Engineering, graduating with first class honours. Since then, he has realised that the most complex "machine" an engineer can work on is the human body and his future career will hopefully encompass his values to make the world a better place.
Devaki is a 25 year old doctor in training at Fiona Stanley Hospital and currently completing a Master of Public Health and Master of Health Management. She is co-creator and president of a mentorship programme for female doctors-in-training - enlightenMED – and in the leadership group of the local chapter of the Institute of Health Improvement.
Alishum is currently completing his PhD at Curtin University, studying the link between the microbiome and preterm birth. He was inspired to apply for his PhD, and subsequently the Biodesign course, after his son was born 17 weeks premature and he found himself unsatisfied by the inability of clinicians to explain why it occurred.