USC to offer new health innovation minor

The Iovine and Young Academy and the Keck School of Medicine partnered to create a health innovation minor, which is set to launch in Spring 2020. (Aamani Ponnekanti|Daily Trojan)

The Iovine and Young Academy and the Keck School of Medicine’s Medicine, Engineering, Science and Humanities Academy introduced a health innovation minor that will be available in Spring 2020, according to Academy communication manager Karine Kim. 

According to Kim, the new minor allows students to combine their interests across different schools to create innovations in the medical field. The program introduces students who are interested in the healthcare field to the cross-disciplinary curriculum of the Academy by offering courses covering both business and medical topics. 

In an email to the Daily Trojan, Kim wrote that the Academy is finalizing the application process for the minor, but she hopes to keep a lower bar of entry for the program.

“Students who minor in health innovation will have the opportunity to learn and apply the Academy’s proven methodologies toward their specific interests in health,” Kim wrote. “The abilities and knowledge gained from the minor could, for example, be applied toward the development of new technologies, new methods or systems for managing health related data and information, medical startups or driving new ideas or policies relating to human health.”

Armine Lulejian, senior director of educational initiatives at Keck, wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan that she hopes the new minor will teach students to become more innovative and develop a strong interdisciplinary foundation. 

“In order to take full advantage of the entrepreneurial and research opportunities in health innovations space, this health innovation minor is necessary for a new generation of learners — agile and adaptive thinkers who cross easily from discipline to discipline, steadily advancing the role that technology plays in our present and our future,” Lulejian wrote. 

Academy sophomore Mark Veksler said that the innovative thinking that Iovine and Young classes utilize could revolutionize the typically slow-moving field of medicine.

“I think that what Iovine and Young brings to the table is just a general sense of innovation and design thinking,” Veksler said. “And I think that a lot of it changes a little bit slow in the medical field, so I think that [the health innovation minor] would definitely better that.”

Nina Cragg, a sophomore in the Academy, said the new minor aligns with the way the fields of health and technology are combining in the real world.

“I do think that there’s a huge future in terms of what wearable tech will look like,” Cragg said. “I think that a lot of innovation will be around health tech.”

According to Kim, the curriculum was designed by faculty and researchers at IYA and Keck. She said IYA received a grant from Phase ONE Cancer Foundation in 2017 to expand the partnership to create course offerings for students who “wish to focus on innovating across health and well-being.” 

“The Academy has been partnered with USC Keck since 2015 through the Kuhn Lab and the Michelson Center Convergent Science Institute in Cancer,” Kim wrote. “Since that time, Academy students have continually worked with teams of USC faculty, researchers and physicians toward new ideas for patient-facing technologies and platforms.”

As medicine and technology innovation begin to merge, the health innovation minor allows students to gain expertise in both areas, Cragg said. 

“I think that [health technology] will really shape our future in many ways,” Cragg said. “There’s a ton of room for growth.”

Erica Hur and Sarah Yaacoub contributed to this report.