By: Annette McKinnon

In the middle of October, I was a judge and a patient advisor at a Hackathon put on by the Arthritis Society at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. You might wonder what actually happens at a Hackathon. I found out it’s all about design, like a race to produce a great solution for a problem in the space of a weekend or less. The people involved in the Hackathon include software developers, graphic designers, interface designers, project managers. Rheumatologists and people with arthritis also participated in the Hackathon as experts on the subject of arthritis.  The problems or hack themes identified for the Hackathon were as follows:

Hack themes.jpg

The fact that I had never been to a Hackathon made me nervous about my qualifications, but knowing a lot about living with arthritis, apps, and patient engagement made me more comfortable. The first night got off to a great start with introductory speeches from the sponsors and #HackingHealthTO.  CAPA was ably represented by Dawn Richards, shown in the picture below, and the Hackathon got off to a good start!

Dawn speaking.jpg

Some of those attending as mentors were good friends.

 Karen and Annette.jpg                                   Lene.jpg

                        Karen and me                                                                                   Lene Anderson

There were 11 teams there using their skills and creativity to produce the next amazing app. Both patients and doctors were there to give advice about what was practical, desirable and useful – what would make the app something that could help people. The sponsor of the event was Eli Lilly Canada and Cossette. I hear the team produced this food to illustrate some of the problems involved with rheumatoid arthritis.

      Mike Stone and Rachel Shupak.jpg                                          plate - opening jars and lifting cups.jpg
Mike Stone of Lilly Canada and Dr Rachel Shupak
                             Opening jars and lifting cups are other issues with joint damage from RA

Coaching and getting the winning solutions into marketable shape are among the prizes for winners of the competition. It was great to see so many people pitching in to help people living with arthritis.

hackathon participants.jpg
               Hackathon participants

 The winning design – from Team Kizuna (shown in the picture below) – was an app that is all about community. You’ll have to wait for the future to see it in action.

 winning team.jpg

 And a final goodbye speech was given by Janet Yale, the CEO of The Arthritis Society where she thanked everyone for their great ideas and results.

 Janet speaking.jpg


Become a Consumer Reviewer for The Arthritis Society!

Many people affected by arthritis contribute to shaping the Arthritis Society’s research programs. We have been fortunate to have several enthusiastic and dedicated consumers actively involved as expert reviewers for Arthritis Society research grants and awards. Their insights, experiences, and knowledge of living with arthritis have been integral to funding innovative research and supporting bright trainees.

Research is key to our goals related to improving health outcomes for people affected by arthritis. Greater understanding of what causes arthritis and how to manage the disease will lead to improved treatments and, ultimately, cures. Since our founding in 1948, the Arthritis Society has invested more than $200 million in basic and applied arthritis research, which has led to significant breakthroughs in diagnosis, treatments and care.

Every Arthritis Society research investment undergoes a thorough expert review. As a reviewer, consumers evaluate research proposals for their relevance to people affected by arthritis within a panel of experts including clinicians and researchers.

We would like to invite interested individuals living with arthritis to participate in future review panels for Arthritis Society grant competitions.

If you are interested in becoming a consumer reviewer, or would like more information about research reviews at the Arthritis Society, please contact us at