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Research and Innovation in Health: Join a Catalyst project team!




HST: Health Sciences and Technology

Faculty Supervisor:

Martha Gray

Faculty email:


Apply by:

September 15, 2020


Melissa Parillo: parrillo@mit.edu

Project Description

Catalyst, a program with numerous research projects related to medicine and healthcare, is currently recruiting undergraduates who are excited about the real-world application of projects that have a direct impact on people. Because of the somewhat unusual way Catalyst operates (see catalyst.mit.edu), you will have a comparatively unique opportunity to be part of a multidisciplinary project team. Depending on the project, the team might include physicians, social workers, engineers, bioscientists, designers, etc. You will engage with and be mentored by professionals drawn from many local health-related institutions (academic, clinical, and business) and VA Boston Healthcare System. Through your work, you will be exposed to (if not participate in) a broad range of approaches to advance projects (human centered design, customer discovery, human studies, patenting, etc.) that complement technical/scientific approaches. Based on your interest, experience (if any) and team needs, we will match you with one of the ongoing Catalyst projects listed below: · Novel device for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) · Reducing the incidence of sexually transmitted disease · Preventing dehydration in vulnerable populations (e.g. the elderly) · Reducing the rate of maternal mortality in Black moms · Preventing overdose deaths for those in treatment for opioid addiction · Digital biomarkers for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) · Reducing the mortality of malaria in young children by preventing severe anemia · Facilitating and accelerating veteran access to mental health clinics · Improving the birth experience Your Experience as a Catalyst UROP: The central core of your experience will be participating as a member of a Catalyst team. We will work with you and other members of your team to determine your specific roles and responsibilities, and will adjust them along the way as you gain experience. In the past, roles have included design and prototyping, interviewing customers, gathering background research, running experiments, writing algorithms, and more. As a program, we have gained experience in remote communication and logistics required to create an optimal experience for student participation (e.g. use of online lab workbooks such as Benchling; communication tools such as Slack and Zoom). We are usually able to provide funding to support students in purchasing prototyping or other materials and to ship items to allow at home experimentation. Additionally, Catalyst will conduct bi-weekly professional development sessions for all undergraduates from all teams to provide mentoring on topics relevant to building your capacity to work independently and to engage professionally with a diverse range of professionals.


As a UROP on a Catalyst team, we expect you to commit 8-10 hours per week, meet regularly with your team, and participate in bi-weekly meetings with your working group. (The working group includes project team members plus 2-4 mentors.)