Margaret Mead, the renowned anthropologist, once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” That is definitely a quote to live by.
A month ago, we were sitting in our office and thinking of ways to commemorate our friend Oren, who had tragically passed away. We came up with the idea of organizing a 24-hour hackathon for patients— a “Medithon”. Many are familiar with the growing trend of hackathons, where a group of people come together to jointly work on a cause. It started with developing software, quickly expanded into hardware (aka “Make-athons”), and has spread into other areas of of life. But a hackathon for patients —
that’s a first.
The basic idea was simple: we’d give patients with complicated diseases the opportunity to have their case thoroughly researched by a group of talented researchers. The research questions could cover various topics such as existing treatments, alternative medicine, side effects, clinical trials, testimonials from patients with similar conditions, or other topics. This would be a condensed research process done for, and with, the patient. We assumed that attracting patients pro-bono would be fairly easy, but where would we find the talented researchers?
This is where the power of the community comes into play. Within a few days of the initial notice, we received dozens of applications from researchers from medical schools, biology students, alumni of army intelligence units, PhD candidates, and even some future doctors. Some of them even graciously thanked us for allowing them to participate!
We are overwhelmed by the immense spirit of the volunteers and their exhilarating sense of commitment, and we are at the final stages of gearing up towards a powerful Medithon event, one in which the power of the Israeli research community will be harnessed to help those who need it most. Bearing in mind Margaret Mead’s quote, we might not change the world in 24 hours, but as the Rabbis have taught us, “Whoever saves a life, saves a world.”
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