D.School Levinthal Fellow 2011-2012
David was born in Connecticut, but he doesn’t remember much about it. There was a frozen pond, he thinks. His early years were spent in Ohio and visiting relatives in Wisconsin where there were numerous frozen lakes. Then came North Carolina, a land of sweet tea and barbeque, hot summers and no frozen bodies of water. As a Tar Heel he went on to study chemistry at UNC Chapel Hill, doing HIV research in summers at nearby Duke University (keep your enemies closer as they say). Although profoundly interested in medicine, he also wanted to see the world and spent semester abroad as an apprentice in a urology ward in Bonn, Germany. As an initial foray into the world of international health, it was . . . interesting! After college and a summer fellowship in Japan taking pictures of buildings, it was time to work a bit and apply to medical school. From a cubicle with 30-foot cathedral ceilings surrounded by stained-glass windows, he helped run HIV clinical trials in an old church in Chapel Hill and, among other things, became an expert at measuring thighs and mixing fat tolerance shakes. When he got the good word from Stanford Med and made a trip out to California, there was no turning back for this Southern Midwestern Yankee.
Medical school at Stanford exceeded his wildest dreams, with amazing classmates and new adventures to be had every weekend. After a couple years though, he was ready to take the show back on the road and moved to Uganda for 12 months to work on a clinical study of Kaposi sarcoma in AIDS patients as a Doris Duke Fellow. Upon returning to the States and a year learning (and living) in the hospital, David decided to dabble a bit on the other side of campus. He took an art class in visual design and found the d.school as a student in Design Thinking Bootcamp. By far one of the most invigorating quarters he had ever had at Stanford, David became known by his fellow medical students as the weird guy who kept asking them about Ramen noodles and spent a week painting 300 wooden balls. But he was hooked. With a new way of looking at the world, a mindset of prototyping and freshly ignited creative confidence, David wrapped up his medical school requirements and went on a mission to take any d.school class he could get his hands on.
In “Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability” he figured, what better way to see if medicine, global health and design thinking could be friends. He lucked out with an incredible team and an amazing trip to Bangladesh in an effort to combat pediatric pneumonia, the number one killer of children worldwide. Another project redesigning catheters for young adults with urinary incontinence in “Design for Service Innovation” and tackling health behavior change in “d.health” convinced David that design thinking and medicine were a match made in heaven. So after graduating from medical school he joined the d.school fulltime as a fellow, working to integrate design thinking principles into medical education, healthcare delivery, medical device design and global health practice.