STAFF REPORT ISB: Pakathon, a Pakistan-oriented hackathon, began its second-annual startup weekend with teams in 16 cities across North America and Pakistan. During the three-day conference, groups of students worked to create technological solutions to problems in Pakistan, says a message received here.

Pakathon is unique not only because of its specific global connection to Pakistan, but also because of its focus on creating innovative solutions to address a need in society. On the occasion, teams presented their business proposals, marketing strategies and projected costs and revenues for their ideas.

On the occasion, the winning team addressed the high mortality rate of people with oral cancer in Pakistan. Perelman School of Medicine researcher Amber Tariq, fourth year Penn Dental student Mariam Naeem and 2013 college graduate Umar Sheikh were particularly interested in Karachi, where 36,000 people die every year from the disease. If detected early, the survival rate increases from 30 percent to 90 percent.

Their solution is PakPayya, a mobile vehicle health unit that travels to underdeveloped areas in Karachi. The van brings equipment as well as medical and dental students to perform a screening process, in which they use iPads to take pictures of suspicious lesions. These images are shared with a doctor who can immediately biopsy the lesions, and if they are identified as cancerous, the patient will be referred to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.

The team will present against the other 15 finalist teams in Boston on Oct. 11.

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