September 16, 2019

MI-Pitch Club

Learn about the Department of Surgery's involvement in MI-Pitch Club, a networking event and pitch competition at the University of Michigan.

Department of Surgery News
MI Pitch Club


The “Medical Innovators” Pitch Club, also known as “MI-Pitch Club”, is a networking event and pitch competition at the University of Michigan. It began in February 2019 and has been held monthly ever since. Each event is sponsored by a University of Michigan department or unit. As part of their sponsorship, they get to pose the design challenge for the evening and judge the pitch competition. A design challenge consists of a real problem in medicine or an opportunity for innovation that would directly impact the sponsoring unit. Trainees and faculty from different schools and disciplines break out into small groups to tackle the design challenge and make sure that all groups have a diverse representation (i.e., medical, engineering, business). After the design challenge, participants can pitch their own ideas. 

Innovation & Surgery 

The Department of Surgery has sponsored multiple MI-Pitch Clubs, including the meeting in June, which was supported by the Michigan Surgical Innovation Prize. It featured winners of the 2019 Michigan Surgical Innovation Accelerator (MSIA) Program, who presented their projects at the meeting. These projects included a new app to diagnose stroke victims, a novel device for transoral thyroidectomies, an app to help patients having weight loss surgery, a novel device to capture metastatic cells from breast cancers, and continuous non-invasive monitoring of end-organ cellular function with a novel super-continuum laser spectroscopy. Teams pitched in front of industry experts, or “sharks”, in the Shark Tank-style competition, and audience members cast a vote for best pitch. A design challenge is also included, and everyone at the meeting is invited to compete for the first-place prize. For example, a recent design challenge asked participants to solve the issue of removing wires in the operating room.

“The design challenge is one of the most fun and interesting components of the evening. We purposely group medical students and faculty with students and faculty from Engineering and Business. Initially groups start out a little out of their comfort zone, but by the time they pitch their idea, they do so with confidence and a sense of pride of the innovative solution that they worked together to come up with.”

- Candice Stegink, Commercialization Education Coordinator

Dr. Jeruss presenting at MI-Pitch Club
MI-Pitch Club Presentation

Department of Surgery Teams

  • RETREVA: A Novel Specimen Retrieval Device for Laparoscopic Surgery
    • Paul Gauger, W. James Melvin, Ton Wang, Jennifer Lee, Lindsay Janes
  • Continuous Non-Invasive Monitoring of End-organ Cellular Function with SuperContinuum Laser Spectroscopy
    • Hasan Alam, Rachel Russo, Mohammed Islam
  • Using Mobile Technology to Identify Stroke and Save Patient Lives
    • Chandu Vemuri, Gloria Kim, Mollie McDermott
  • My Weight Loss Journey : A New Digital Health App for your Smart Phone
    • Amir Ghaferi, Rachel Ross, Alirio Correia de Meireles
  • A Synthetic Metastatic Niche for Early Detection of Metastatic Breast Cancer
    • Jaqueline Jeruss, Lonnie Shea, Liam Casey, Sophia Orback, Pridvi Kandagatia, Anthony Fici


The goal of MI-Pitch Club is to bring together a multidisciplinary group of individuals who are mutually interested in positively impacting the medical community through innovation. Sponsors benefit from 50+ people solely focusing on their challenge and their unique solutions. Ideally, the winning team can then go on to implement their innovative idea with the sponsoring group. MI-Pitch Club provides an active audience for projects in any stage, so individuals can collect feedback to advance their project. This is an extremely valuable experience for all involved and interested in medical innovation.

The next MI-Pitch Club event will take place on Tuesday, October 8th from 5 p.m. -7:30 p.m. at Pizza House (618 Church St. Ann Arbor, MI) and is sponsored by the Frankel Cardiovascular Center (FCVC). The Design Challenge for this event will focus on creating novel solutions for improving patient access at the FCVC, so patients can see providers within two weeks. This event is open to the public and free to attend.

Pre-register for the event →

"Innovation is an important skill set that we as physicians need to understand. Our goal is for Michigan to be a place people look to for surgical innovation." Mark Cohen, MD, FACS
"Innovation is an important skill set that we as physicians need to understand. Our goal is for Michigan to be a place people look to for surgical innovation." Mark Cohen, MD, FACS; Professor, Surgery & Pharmacology; Director, Surgical Innovation Development Accelerator Course

Contact Us

Candice Stegink

Candice Stegink

Commercialization Education Coordinator, Fast Forward Medical Innovation
Dr. Cohen

Mark S. Cohen, MD, FACS

Professor, Surgery, Pharmacology, & Biomedical Engineering
Vice Chair of Clinical Operations, Surgery
Director, Medical School Path of Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Director, Endocrine Surgery Research