Intuitive Foundation Awards a Shared $1 Million Prize to Two Winners of the Global Surgical Training Challenge
Two teams earn grand prize money for developing training in low- and middle-income countries
SUNNYVALE, Calif., January 19, 2023 – The Intuitive Foundation, dedicated to reducing the global burden of disease and suffering through philanthropy, research and education, today congratulated the winners of the Global Surgical Training Challenge (the “Challenge”) after three years of strong competition.
The Intuitive Foundation awarded $700,000 to the grand prize winner Team All-Safe, based in Ethiopia with members in Cameroon, Kenya, and the United States, which built surgical self-training modules for laparoscopic skills. Team Tibial Fracture Fixation, based in Nigeria, won the runner-up award, winning $300,000 to continue its work building modules using 3D printing to teach essential fracture management.
These two teams earned the prize money on top of respective $500,000 development grants received for being among the four finalists selected last year as part of the Challenge.
“It is my great honor, on behalf of the Intuitive Foundation, to award these prizes and celebrate the innovative results of this Challenge that will help train health care providers in the places where the knowledge is needed most,” said Dr. Catherine Mohr, president of the Intuitive Foundation. “This challenge reflects the Foundation’s core mission to improve patient outcomes around the world, and I hope it is but the first of many opportunities to facilitate and champion the best new thinking in surgical education.”
In collaboration with Challenge Works, MIT Solve, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and Appropedia, the Intuitive Foundation launched the Global Surgical Training Challenge in 2019 to stimulate the creation of novel, low-cost surgical training modules that would allow surgical practitioners to “learn new skills, from anywhere in the world at any point in their careers.”
These open-source modules will help surgical practitioners in low- and middle-income countries learn and self-assess new skills to improve the health of their communities. This Challenge aimed to create a paradigm shift in how and where surgical practitioners are trained.
The ALL-SAFE team started with a module to teach laparoscopic surgery for the treatment of ectopic pregnancy. The team has since added modules on other minimally invasive procedures for indications such as appendicitis.
“Each of the modules will teach [learners] something new in laparoscopy,” said Dr. David Jeffcoach, team co-lead for ALL-SAFE. “The thing with laparoscopic skills is that you can use them for everything.”
The Tibial Fracture Fixation team, led by Dr. Habila Umaru and Dr. Julielynn Wong, has expanded to teach fixation techniques for other types of fractures, such as humeral fracture and pediatric distal forearm fracture. In addition to medical officers and other non-orthopedic specialists, they are developing methods of reaching traditional bone-setters to treat these common injuries.
“Exposing them to these models will truly be a game changer because they will learn the skill and deploy them where there are no orthopedic surgeons,” said Dr. Umaru.
The other two finalist teams were:
CrashSavers team lead and trauma surgeon Dr. Sabrina Asturius says her team’s hemorrhage control training modules have potential for more than first responders who respond to traumas. “We can see these modules expanding to midwives who need to control bleeding in childbirth, for example. This can have a huge impact in rural communities,” she said.
The modularity of their platform for teaching essential plastic surgery techniques like Z-plasty is what will allow them to easily expand the curriculum, according to Dr. Anthony Dwyer of finalist team AmoSmile. “It is simply plug and play from an educational content standpoint. We made it modular to be able to insert any specialty and put their curriculum in, whether it’s from biomedical education, nursing, speech pathology, cleft surgery, you name it,” he said.
The three-year competition started with 42 teams from 44 different countries. As part of the Challenge, the entries by all four finalist teams were subjected to rigorous clinical evaluation, and learners using the modules have gone on to demonstrate their mastery of these self-taught skills in clinical environments. The judging panel met in December 2022 to choose the winners based on a variety of parameters, including how well the modules fulfill the critical components — didactic rigor, simulation-based skill acquisition, and self-assessment.
For more information on the Global Surgical Training Challenge visit https://globalsurgicaltraining.challenges.org/.
About The Intuitive Foundation
The Intuitive Foundation was created in 2018 to promote health and advance education, and reduce human suffering, including by making grants to section 501(c)(3) organizations and foreign equivalents; organizing and conducting activities, competitions, and other events; and developing and providing tools and forums.
The Intuitive Foundation awards grants for promoting health and advancing education in educational research, clinical research, and clinical training. In addition, it provides support to various philanthropic programs aimed at community welfare and increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM and healthcare fields.