On May 12th, over 400 medical technology innovators came together at MIT’s fourth annual Grand Hack, the flagship event of MIT Hacking Medicine. It’s the world’s largest healthcare hackathon, with participants from across the country and around the globe.
The event brings together people with backgrounds in medicine, technology, and business to find solutions to today’s most pressing health issues.
Participant and entrepreneur Michael Barros, who’s pursuing an MBA at Boston University, wasn’t sure what kind of project he would work on when he came.
“I wasn’t planning on pitching anything,” said Barros. “I was going to help people fix something.”
But in the pitching session, participants were told to offer problems rather than solutions. Barros may have lacked a solution, but his problem grabbed the attention of a room packed with innovators.
In the last 10 years, heroin abuse has doubled among Americans aged 18 to 25. Addicts seeking treatment face long wait times, and Barros knows the long wait can mean the difference between life and death.
In 2010, Barros was a student at Saint Anselm College when he and a roommate began experimenting with heroin. As their addictions spiraled out of control, they left school and found themselves homeless. They waited for months without help. Feeling hopeless, Barros’s roommate committed suicide.
“I’m only here because I got help when I needed it,” said Barros.