Developers #HackMS at the First Ever Hackathon for Multiple Sclerosis

- Biogen Idec sponsors hackathon to take on stress management, a challenge that affects many of the 2.3 million people living with MS worldwide -

Feb 09, 2015, 08:32 ET from Biogen Idec

WESTON, Mass., Feb. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Dozens of hackers descended upon Boston's Innovation District this past weekend to take on a unique challenge: develop a tech-based tool to help people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) manage daily stress. The event, Hack MS, was hosted by Cambridge-based biotech Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) with the goal of focusing some of the area's brightest minds on the problem of stress, which according to some studies, can be associated with fatigue, confusion, and worsening of MS symptoms.

During the two-day event, 22 teams undertook the challenge to develop real world stress management solutions in three areas that have been shown to have a measurable effect on stress: relaxation skills, problem-solving techniques and prioritization tools.

Jeri Burtchell and Matt Winslow of "Team Stay Calm" claimed the top prize of $20,000 for their stress companion app that is designed to help with diet, exercise and sleep, and that may enable people living with MS to stay more relaxed and calm. Four other teams walked away with a total of $20,000 in prizes for their creative and inventive solutions. In addition to the prize money, Biogen Idec will evaluate the solutions and determine feasibility in helping the winning teams further evolve their innovation.

"Given our history of fostering innovation, we are very excited to create an event that continues our long-standing commitment to bring new solutions to help manage stress to the community," said Scott Dreyer, Vice President, Marketing at Biogen Idec. "We congratulate Jeri and Matt for taking home top honors at Hack MS, and for helping us advance our mission to help people living with MS."

While there are several lifestyle modifications people with MS can make to help reduce stress, such as yoga or light exercise, very little has been done to merge those interventions with technologies that could help improve access and use for those impacted by the disease. With studies suggesting that stress can be associated with MS relapses and conditions like higher resting heart rate and blood pressure, the goal of Hack MS was to jumpstart innovative ideas that may help with the effects of unmanaged stress in people with MS.

A panel of judges including a health technology expert, the President Elect of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN) and key thought-leaders from Biogen Idec evaluated submissions based on creativity and innovation, feasibility, simplicity and their ability to help meet the needs of people with MS. 

"I could tell that all the teams at Hack MS took what they learned from the experiences of people with MS and used that insight to create innovative solutions. I truly believe these ideas have the potential to fill a gap related to stress in people with MS," said Megan R. Weigel, DNP, ARNP-c, MSCN, President Elect of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN).

For more information, visit and search #HackMS on social media to see how different teams approached the problem of stress management in MS during the two-day event and learn about their creative solutions.

About MS MS affects the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild or severe, ranging from numbness in the limbs to paralysis or loss of vision. The progression, severity and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 2.3 million people are currently living with MS.

About Biogen Idec Through cutting-edge science and medicine, Biogen Idec discovers, develops and delivers to patients worldwide innovative therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, hematologic conditions and autoimmune disorders. Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is the world's oldest independent biotechnology company and patients worldwide benefit from its leading multiple sclerosis and innovative hemophilia therapies. For product labeling, press releases and additional information about the Company, please visit   

MEDIA CONTACT: Biogen Idec Hayley Soffer Ph: +1 781 464 3260  

GCI Health Christina Bello Ph: +1 212 798 9908

SOURCE Biogen Idec