Impact on Participants

US VMW Participant Locations
Locations of all U.S. VMW Participants since 2017.

Since the inception of the U.S. Virtual Magic Wand® (VMW) program in 2017, many dermatology scholars and fellows have participated together in the program from many different military, public, and private institutions in many locations throughout the United States.

Past participants of the U.S. VMW program have become leaders in biomedical innovation and have continued to stay engaged in innovation, making an impact.

Locations of Europe VMW Participants
Locations of Europe VMW Participants

Our past participants have excelled in innovation by winning Dermatology Hackathons, participating in industry internships programs, starting companies, and winning awards for the impact of their work.

Starting in 2021, the VMW program will be opened to scholars and fellows in Europe, thus greatly increasing the impact and the reach of the MWI worldwide.

View past VMW participants

Impact on Patients/Healthcare

VMW participant wins ORR Community Award for helping with protective masks shortage for frontline health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic
VMW Participant Locations
(Left) Aditi Sharma, MD, 2019 VMW Participant - (Right) Protective face masks made from repurposed surgical sterilization wrap

In March 2020, during the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a worldwide shortage of PPE (protective masks) for frontline health care workers. At this time, Dr. Sharma had recently completed the U.S. Virtual Magic Wand® (VMW) course. Reacting to the worldwide PPE shortage, and utilizing important principles learned in the VMW course, Dr. Sharma took the initiative to collaborate with others in the health care industry in an effort to come up with a viable solution for the PPE shortage. In a matter of months, Dr. Sharma and her associates were able to produce 10,000 masks that were made from recycled surgical instrument sterilization wrap material and were three times more effective at filtering than normal cloth masks.

From Dr. Sharma:

It is our great hope that this masking initiative is just the beginning of a bigger movement towards sustainability within the medical field, that not only promotes community safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also helps to reduce the waste we are producing.

As a resident physician, the VMW has allowed me to integrate my passion for dermatology and innovation by providing a foundation and skillset in design thinking. By creating an environment of like-minded individuals where innovation is encouraged and celebrated, my experience with the VMW has further fueled my passion to identify clinical problems worth solving, collaborate with stakeholders and engineers, and develop effective solutions for better care of my patients.

I hope that medical education will continue to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship curriculums like the VMW to help physicians feel confident in identifying problems and developing solutions to meet unmet needs, in order to better handle any challenges that may present to the health care system.

View video of Dr. Sharma explaining the masks initiative
View AAMC article on ORR Community Service Award winner, Dr. Sharma 
View UC Irvine news article about mask making teamwork
VMW participants collaborate together to form new company that makes wart treatment patch for children
VMW Participant Locations
(Left) Reid Waldman, MD, 2019 U.S. VMW Participant - (Right) New Wartpatch® wart treatment bandage made for children

Reid Waldman, MD, and the other co-founders of VeraDermics, a new company that invented and produces the Wartpatch® product for children, met each other during their time in the 2019 U.S. VMW course. From the VeraDermics Web site, “To solve the problems with current wart treatments, we invented the 1st ever kid-friendly and easy-to-use wart treatment. Our product, Wartpatch, combines the most effective wart treatment with a kid-friendly drug delivery platform. Wartpatch uses a dissolvable microneedle patch to deliver immunotherapy. Microneedle patches are established, patient-friendly technology that go onto the skin like a band-aid, and the microneedles dissolve into the skin which releases immune stimulating medication. Immunotherapy is a treatment that gets the body’s own immune system to fight off the wart virus.”

After completing the 2019 US VMW course and demonstrating the principles learned from the course, Dr. Waldman, Tim Durso, MD, and Ming Lee, MD, collaborated with each other to discuss the new product idea and then participated in and won the Hacking Dermatology Challenge in 2020. Hacking Dermatology is a dermatology innovation challenge that unites clinical and scientific experts, patients, engineers and innovators to reimagine the landscape of patient care and is sponsored by MIT Hacking Medicine.

From Dr. Durso:

I met Reid (Dr. Waldman) serendipitously in person at the AID Innovation Forum in 2019. We were both residents and interested in entrepreneurship and connected right away. An announcement was made about VMW, which I had heard of, and I told him that he should apply. We met up later at Hacking Derm where the idea for Wartpatch® really blossomed. The entrepreneurial ecosystem has allowed me to meet people with a lot of experience. Each connection you make leads to more connections and advice. The dermatology entrepreneurial community was spearheaded by Rox (Dr. Anderson) and Lilit (Dr. Garibyan) and is extremely valuable to doctors who are interested in looking for solutions beyond the status quo. I never saw myself taking a company to this point and didn’t even know it was an opportunity until I got involved with the program.

The emphasis of the VMW program is identifying problems worth solving and when you have a solution make sure it fits with stakeholders. If it’s a great solution with a great product-market fit, it’s easy to convince stakeholders. Each stakeholder has different pain points. When you just share an idea with yourself or your mentor it’s easy to pretend your idea is good. When you convince someone to give you money to back your project, then you know your idea has to hold up. I’m now more attuned to problems, even if they're not problems worth solving. The best problems affect all stakeholders. VMW changed the way I approach problems, evaluate from an entrepreneurship perspective if there's a viable path forward to a solution. Thanks for having the program. I wouldn't be in the position I'm in today without it. Take the drive and expand it into the educational system.

View business article on invention of wart patch