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MSD’s 3rd Hackathon: Unlocking health equity

November 2023

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Health equity is crucial to ensuring accessible and efficient healthcare. But how can the pharmaceutical and wider healthcare industry work towards combatting disparities?

The Health Equity hackathon, hosted by MSD’s LEAD network (League of Employees of African Descent) in collaboration with Eli Lilly’s embRACE, returned to bring its third annual hackathon to life.

With over 55 undergraduate students attending from a range of diverse academic and cultural backgrounds, the hackathon invited curious minds to ‘hack’ the problem of health equity, explore potential solutions, and network.

The two-day event provided students with valuable insight into the pharmaceutical industry, encouraging them to think of viable solutions to real-world issues that the pharmaceutical and wider healthcare industry are facing.

All teams had the opportunity to present their solutions to a panel of industry experts  on complex themes such as; addressing vaccine hesitancy, tackling obesity, and  diversifying clinical trials. Finalists were invited to present head-to-head in front of an audience of attendees. 

The winning team’s concept focused on how the pharmaceutical industry can support ethnic minority communities to reduce the prevalence of obesity. Their solution involved a detailed and descriptive 5 step programme called LEAN (Lifestyle, Exercise And Nutrition): To Lead A Better Life, which compromised of:

  1. Preliminary Stage
  2. Medication Management
  3. Counselling
  4. Education
  5. Lifestyle Scheme
  6. Review, Quantify and Adjust

It addressed the root causes of this health disparity, analysing the contributing factors that may lead to different health outcomes, debunked stereotypes, and also highlighted the importance of accountability and education; giving individuals the chance to make better informed decisions as well as seek mental health support.

Hackathon winner, Toni, reflected on the day, calling it “a whirlwind of research, collaboration and teamwork.”

MSD’s co-leads for LEAD, Jennifer Dominic and Tobi Adeyemi spoke about the day; “We are proud to celebrate the remarkable work of an incredibly talented group of individuals and firmly believe that representation is the cornerstone of progress, especially in improving health equity and access. Being part of such a significant initiative makes us even more proud.”

“The teams did a phenomenal job – this is the 3rd year running and the level at which students are thinking and executing continues to blow us away.”

As well as the event raising awareness of the importance of health equity, MSD is proud of the hackathon’s role in continuing to develop partnerships and contribute to forming a pipeline of diverse talent; by attending the hackathon, the participants and winning group will be accelerated through both MSD and Lilly’s early talent programme assessment stages.

Making room for imagination, diversity and inclusion allows us to excel and help foster a positive environment which invests in our future leaders, giving them space to make a change.

GB-NON-08516 | Date of Preparation: Nov 2023