How Patients Drive IBD Research and Product Development

IBD tech

After more than 30 years of experience in pharmaceutical development, I remain inspired by the power of the patient voice and experience in driving research, innovation, and awareness. I just completed my first year with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and have seen this first-hand with the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) community.


I recently served as a judge for the 2022 Global Innovation Challenge, sponsored by LyfeBulb in collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS). Lyfebulb bridges the gap between patients and the healthcare industry to help drive innovation in research and product development. It was a great honor to serve with representatives of the pharmaceutical, clinical medicine, and patient advocacy community.


The goal of the challenge, themed “Addressing Unmet Needs in IBD”, was to identify new ideas and products that have a positive impact on the lives of people living with IBD.


At the same time, it was an opportunity for the many sectors of the research community including pharmaceutical companies, medical suppliers, nonprofits, patients, and entrepreneurs to come together to look at solutions for improving care for IBD patients. Gathering of all these groups together does not frequently happen.


The finalists, appropriately called “Innovators,” presented a wide range of novel ideas and solutions to help patients manage their IBD. Two winners were selected.


The winner of the Challenge’s Innovation Award (for a profit company) was Kishore Pardasani, CEO and founder of OstoBuddy, a mobile platform that makes it easier for patients to coordinate their ostomy supplies by keeping track of their supplies, scheduling deliveries, issuing reminders, and more. Kishore, who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 20 years ago, has undergone many surgeries and had his colon removed in 2009. He developed OstoBuddy to help people with ostomies reduce the stress that comes with managing their condition.


The Challenge’s Impact Award recipient (for a non-profit company) was Tina Aswani-Omprakash, a Crohn’s disease patient and advocate who co- co-founded the South Asian IBD Alliance (SAIA) to minimize disparities and improve education among the growing South Asian IBD population. She has a blog and advocacy platform called Own Your Crohn’s. Tina is using her award winnings to continue her organization’s work to create awareness and meet the medical, nutritional, and psychosocial needs within the South Asian IBD community.


While there were just two Challenge winners, the day was filled by equally exciting ideas and initiatives by all ten finalists. It was thrilling to see the amazing potential we have improve to the lives of people living with IBD when the research community and patients work together. Events like the Global Challenge are a testament to what can happen when patients become true collaborators in research initiatives and product development.


Russell Wyborski , Ph.D., is director of IBD Ventures Investments at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.


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