How Harvard Medical School Uses Open Innovation To Solve World-Class Scientific Problems

July 10, 2014 Appirio

At the intersection of two important medical fields—immunology and genomics—lies immunogenomics, an area of research that explores the ways in which the human genome interacts with disease. Solving big-data based algorithmic problems in immunogenomics is as difficult as it sounds. When Harvard Medical School (“HMS”) decided to tackle a DNA sequencing algorithm that already had been “solved” by the National Center of Biotechnology Informatics’ (part of NIH) MegaBLAST algorithm, it turned to open innovation.

While academia knows well the open nature of peer review scrutiny, that process “still follows the logic of a closed innovation system in which a few individuals determine the direction and expectation of innovation efforts.” Eva Guinan, Kevin J. Boudreau & Karim R. Lakhani, Experiments in Open Innovation at Harvard Medical School at 47 (MIT Sloan Management Review 2012). HMS was breaking new ground.

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