This Is the Best Part About Jefferson’s New Health Design Lab
This week, Thomas Jefferson University announced the opening of The Vault Health Design Lab, a prototyping and maker space designed to spur collaboration between students, clinicians and other healthcare professionals. While it is undoubtedly cool that the health lab is housed in the Old Federal Reserve Bank building, the best part about the lab is that it is adaptable, a space that will continue to change to meet the needs of its occupants.
The space is equipped with 3-D printers and small sewing machines for micro-processing and fabrication projects. The healthcare system also has plans to add augmented reality and virtual reality components to the space as time develops.
“We wanted to make it easy for people to have access prototyping at various levels,” said Dr. Donna Gentile O’Donnell, Jefferson’s vice president for innovation partnerships and programs and special assistant to the president and CEO. O’Donnell sees the potential for great crossover between students of various disciplines. “We’ll definitely see a wide array of activity there from clinical work to orthopedics and people from Will’s Eye,” she said, “they’ve all expressed interest.” Jefferson’s merge with Philadelphia University and the school’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College fit the bill for this kind of co-curricular action. They’ve already got initiatives like MEDStudio, College-within-the-College track, and IDeA or Innovation and Design Application, which all bring design to medical students and design students to healthcare innovation.
“This historical place used to hold money and now it holds a different kind of wealth,” said O’Donnell. And a major part of that wealth is Jefferson’s recognition that the space is open to change. “What we are doing in there now is just the first wave,” she said. Before the transformation, the space was a grimy garage, storage for the stuff no one cared about, O’Donnell said.
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