Berkeley Changemaker: Human Health

In our inaugural class, 45 motivated undergrads did 500 expert interviews around nine human health issues, gave 50 presentations to their classmates showcasing their learning, and submitted 1500 questions and reflections to our 11 guest speakers. Wonderful insightful work.

Thank you to our #changemaking guests for meeting our Fall 2022 class:
- Fyodor Urnov, professor at the Innovative Genomics Institute and MCB, covering fundamentals and issues around gene editing
- Janice Chen, co-founder of Mammoth Biosciences, discussing her journey founding Mammoth
- Lee_Hood, professor and founder of numerous companies, including Phenome Health, discussing the Human Genome Project and beyond
- Sahab Aslam, head of data at Myriad Genetics and Berkeley adjunct in data science, discussing AI and digital therapeutics
- Owen Kent and Todd Roberts, co-founders of Assistive Technology Development, Inc. (ATDev), discussing their journey starting a company in the rehab space
- Yana Aznavour, MD, PhD, founder and CEO of Endometrics, with a diagnostic test for endometriosis
- Colette Auerswald, professor in the School of Public Health, covering social determinants of health and her research interests
- Robert Miller, Dr. Katrina Roundfield, Sean Woodruff, co-founders of Appa Health, with a solution in the teenage mental health space
- Maria Artunduaga, MD, MPH, MTM, founder of Samay, with a COPD monitoring technology
- Michael Lu, Dean of the School of Public Health, discussing leading change in maternal and child health
- Mehek Mohan, Genentech, founded STD diagnostics startup as Berkeley undergrad

Berkeley Changemaker®:Human Health 

UGBA13, 2 Units

Spring 2024: Tuesdays 12-2pm, Berkeley Haas, Chou Hall N300

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of others?
Are you wondering how you might be involved?
Find your path with Berkeley Changemaker: Human Health

Brief Description

In this course you will apply the core principles of the Berkeley Changemaker curriculum by:

  • Criticallyexploring a full understanding of an important human health issue,

  • Collaborating with diverse colleagues on a project team to investigate solutions, and

  • Communicating what you’ve learned and providing feedback to your classmates.

Each week you will have a conversation with a Berkeley Human Health Changemaker on a range of topics, and you will update your classmates on the progress of your team’s Area of Interest project.

Enroll here: 2024 Spring UGBA 13 001 LEC 001 | Course Catalog

Learning Outcomes

As you engage with this course, you will understand not only the intricacies of your selected Area of Interest, with a deep understanding of the pros and cons of different solutions, and you will also come to understand your own role in making a change in an area of human health. Each week you will not only learn from the guest speakers, but you will also learn from your classmates, and their different Areas of Interest, and benefit from their discoveries and feedback.

Course Format

This course uses two learning methods: weekly conversations with Human Health Changemakers, and a group project exploring an Area of Interest

Weekly Conversations with Human Health Changemakers

We’ll have weekly discussion sessions with either a Near-PeerHuman Health Changemaker (think Forbes 30-under-30 startup founders), or a Human Health Changemaker “Legend” (think Professor Lee Hood, father of the Human Genome Project). There is no specifically assigned reading in this course. Instead, each week you will spend at least an hour researching the week’s guest(s) and list on the Wonder and Surprise sheet: 

1. the most useful resource you found for information about the speakers or their companies/organization, 

2. two things you have questions about, then 

3. after the discussion, two things you were surprised to learn from the discussion.

Group Project exploring an Area of Interest

This course uses a Customer Discovery based learning process. Much of what you discover while working with your project team investigating an Area of Interest will be from one-on-one conversations with people. This process is a mindset-changing technique used in courses hosted by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and in the Berkeley Haas School of Business. 

Potential Areas of Interest will be suggested and will have a broad scope: from access to healthcare, to cutting-edge therapeutics, diagnostics or scientific tools, to medical economics and policy, to health IT innovations, or teams may suggest their own topic, subject to instructor approval.

Every two weeks your project team will be given a new Focus Topic for your customer discovery research within your Area of Interest. You will brainstorm within your team about hypotheses (ie guesses) relevant to how you might better understand this focus topic. Then you’ll “get out of the building” and learn from conversations with people with an understanding or viewpoint relevant to your hypotheses. 

Each team will do several new interviews each week, lasting 10-30 minutes. The expectation for the number of new interviews depends on the team size: four-member teams do four, five-member teams do five, etc.

Then comes the exciting part. Every other week your team will present to the rest of the class the results of your interviews: 

  1. Here’s what we thought… (hypothesis tested)

  2. Here’s what we did… (method of testing - what types of questions, how many people you talked to, who were they, what did you generally ask?)

  3. What we learned… (summary results - highlighting surprises and key learnings)

  4. What we are going to do next… (next steps, follow ups, new tests, pivots, iterations)

Team report-outs are interactive, lively, and involve feedback and questions from your peers via the course Slack channel.

The course will conclude with a final 5-minute presentation highlighting the conversations and learning you and your team had over the course relating to your Area of Interest, highlighting the surprises and “a ha” moments (there are always a few). Final presentations are recorded individually and submitted during finals week.


No prerequisites other than an interest in learning by listening, and a desire to make a difference in the lives of others. This course complements the Robinson Life Science, Business, and Entrepreneurship Program (LSBE) Introductory Course: Intro to Biotech (MCB c75C / UGBA c95B), and Biotechnology Entrepreneurship: Impact, History, Therapeutics R&D, Entrepreneurship & Careers (BioE 253 / 153) but prior knowledge or experience is not expected or required.


As you progress in the course, you’ll be adding questions and revelations to the Wonder and Surprises sheet, and slides to your team’s Area of Interest presentation, culminating in your Final Presentation at the Berkeley Changemaker: Human Health Showcase event.

  • Attendance and Participation (at least one question or feedback to other project teams during their presentations on course Slack channel): 20%

  • Guest Speaker "Wonder and Surprise" responses: 30%

  • Bi-weekly project team Area of Interest Report-Outs: 20%

  • Final presentation: 30%

Teaching Team

Darren Cooke // Lead Instructor // Executive Director of the Berkeley Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Center and Professional Faculty at the Haas School of Business

Course Reader TBD

Yes 1000% this was definitely the best course I’ve ever taken.
Fall 2022 UGBA13 Student (answering the question, "would you recommend this class to a fellow student?")
I would 100% recommend this instructor and this course to any fellow student interested in truly diving in to the world of health care and leading issues in human health. It is super fascinating and exciting and I loved every minute!
Fall 2022 UGBA13 Student