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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Innovation: A Value Embedded in Our Culture

November 5th, 2020

Our core value of Innovation is neither hard to uncover or realize here at Michigan Medicine. Whether it is through our world-renowned discoveries, our unique approach to challenges or our simple curiosity that leads us to out of the box thinking, we have developed a culture of creativity that, I believe, inspires us to reach further and builds an even stronger innovative spirit.

I know I’m inspired every day by the creative people I work with in this amazing institution and I hope you are too. 

This innovative spirit can be found in both big and small ways, from large-scale research projects seeking to make discoveries that will change care, to simple solutions designed to make our workday run smoother. Both are valued and respected here.

Four examples in the “big” category are the biomedical research projects which were recently awarded funding by the Frankel Innovation Initiative as part of the Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI).

These are all led by Michigan Medicine faculty, with collaboration of other world-renowned scientists.

I’m extremely proud of these innovators and their projects, which if actualized, could provide life-saving therapies, not just for our patients, but for others around the globe. Below is a brief overview:

  1. David Humes, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine, is developing a device to filter blood and treat sepsis in children, along with Stuart Goldstein, M.D., FAAP, FNKF of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
  2. Alvaro Rojas-Pena, M.D., Assistant Research Scientist, and Robert Bartlett, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Surgery, are collaborating on a system to keep donor organs alive outside of the body. 
  3. Paul Cederna, M.D. Associate Chair, Professor of Plastic Surgery, and Cynthia Chestek, Ph.D. are working together on a prosthetic hand that uses signals from the brain to move and sense. 
  4. Molly Stout, M.D., MSCI, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is developing a device to help predict preterm birth, with the help of Methodius Tuuli, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. of Indiana University, and Peinan Zhao, Ph.D. of Washington University in St. Louis.

We also went big – and fast – in our thinking when innovating around solutions for fighting COVID-19. Beyond our work towards clinical trials of a vaccine – which is of immense and immediate importance – many of our colleagues created simpler, but impactful workarounds during the pandemic which have saved time, money and, in some cases, lives. Here are just a few examples of innovative approaches to treating patients at a time when it was difficult to interact with one another face to face:

The sleep disorder clinic developed home study units for patients to continue sleep studies when the lab was shut down during the pandemic.

While Primary Care clinics consolidated to limited regional sites and largely operated on virtual visits, pharmacist-staffed drive-through blood pressure sites opened up to fill a gap for patients needing hypertension and diabetes care management.

The team at the glaucoma clinic in the Kellogg Eye Center also established a drive-thru location for necessary eye exams during the shutdown.

A pharmacist-lead chemotherapy remote care monitoring program assessed patients’ symptoms in real time using texts so patients could inform pharmacists if they needed a prescription for nausea without having to visit or call the doctor.

Many innovations are often behind the scenes but are no less valuable. If it impacts our business, it impacts patient care. Here are a few that came across my desk.

A student developed a new method for cage wash orders within the animal labs at the medical school.

The Development Office improved processes to grow our donor pipeline.

The addition of barcode scanning for inpatient medication products during medication preparation resulted in decreased medication errors in C&W.

A new in-house bone marrow transplant engraftment analysis tool has saved time, reduced costs, and decreased errors.

The Department of Communication created a new photo studio. 

I know there are many more innovations that I am not even aware of. Help me tell those stories.

Do you know someone who is living our Innovation Core Value? Do you have an inspiring idea to share? Does your team share a culture of creativity? Tell us about it in the discussion box below.


  • A collaborative team from Pathology and Internal Medicine/Cancer Genetics developed a program, InheRET, to identify patients at need for hereditary cancer screening prior to cancer onset, thereby enabling improved patient outcomes. This program collects personal and family health history remotely, interprets these data, and provides recommended next steps to providers and patients. In today’s telemedicine expansion, it is providing physicians with access to important data prior to scheduled appointments.

    • Thank you for sharing this important project with us, Lynn. Not only does this demonstrate innovation, it is also collaborative and patient-focused – which is driven by our caring and teamwork core values. This work brings efficiency to clinicians but also supports cancer prevention throughout the organization, and that is amazing work!

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