The MWI is a proven way to identify and solve frontline patient problems through research and innovation. It launches new projects that start and end with the patient problem, in the process bringing physicians and scientists together in their best roles.
In 2013, R. Rox Anderson, MD, made a bold New Year’s resolution—to empower doctors who daily face unsolved medical problems to better solve them. That New Year’s resolution sparked some real-life magic.
Dr. Anderson teamed up with Lilit Garibyan, MD, PhD, both faculty at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, to create the Magic Wand Initiative (MWI). As physician-scientists, they share a deep passion for improving patients’ lives with innovative solutions. The MWI is actually doing that, across the country.
Decades ago, in Dr. Anderson’s early days as a student doctor and young faculty member, it was easier to simultaneously practice medicine and do research.
As long as the research was aimed at real medical problems, these two full-time jobs felt like one. It was so amazing to directly attack the problems faced by our patients,” recalls Dr. Anderson, “and then actually solve them. We tested new ideas and technologies, then shepherded them all the way from the laboratory back to our patients. Of course that takes a lot of teamwork, but it all starts with a passionate clinician who is allowed to innovate.
We have unintentionally separated passionate clinicians from research-scientists, to the detriment of everyone. Biotech is a big industry, aimed at blockbuster new drugs and devices. It often skips over the problems commonly faced by patients and doctors. Even in academic hospitals, biomedical research is mainly done by excellent scientists and others who have never taken care of a patient. Meanwhile, physicians are increasingly taught to be efficient and compliant, at the expense of being creative problem-solvers. Doctors who see patients have a deep practical understanding of many problems that are worth solving. But, they usually don’t have the time, resources or permission to step back and figure out a solution. On the other hand, researchers who deeply understand science and technology are usually unaware or naïve about the problems faced in medical practice.
That is what we are trying to change with the MWI. The heart of the MWI recognizes physicians’ unique perspective in medical care delivery and supports them. We help clinicians learn how to identify and define unmet needs and work collaboratively with our research faculty to solve them. This leads to successful collaborations and impact.