Asking questions is at the very core of education. Surgical education specifically is a unique circumstance in which “learning” directly affects the lives of others – sometimes in very negative and real ways. Thus, tackling training of new surgeons around the world has very real consequences that can help increase access to needed care around the globe but in safe and competent ways. The goal of surgery is to be effective, safe, and have the desired outcome. Learning how to ask questions and learn essential  procedural skills through accessible materials is the goal of Drs. Priyanka Naidu and Zach Collier. Join us as we talk about how they are using hackathons, self-assessments, apps, language translation, and dynamic education materials to learn and/or refresh surgical skills to be able to address the current gap in surgical knowledge and open doors to safe and affordable surgery globally.

Priyanka Naidu & Zachary Collier: Hackathons, Developing Apps for Surgical Education, and Global Reconstructive Surgery



South Africa & USA



“Hackathons, Developing Apps for Surgical Education, and Global Reconstructive Surgery”

Priyanka Naidu, MBChB, MSc, is a medical doctor and aspiring pediatric reconstructive surgeon from Cape Town, South Africa. She studied at the University of Cape Town and went on to train at one of the world’s largest hospitals, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto.  In 2019, she was awarded the National Research Foundation Scholarship and has pursued a Masters in Global Surgery with a focus on national surgical planning and addressing barriers to safe surgery. She has presented her work at international conferences globally, including the Bethune Round Table and the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress. Priyanka is interested in developing innovative solutions to scale-up surgical workforce capacity in low- and middle-income countries. Since joining Operation Smile as a Global Surgery Fellow in February 2020, she has been involved in education and training, health systems strengthening initiatives, and geospatial mapping of cleft care providers in Operation Smile’s programmatic countries. She was previously named as one of South Africa’s top 200 Young South Africans for her work in the healthcare sector.


Zachary Collier, MD, is a plastic and reconstructive surgery resident at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a second year global surgery fellow with Operation Smile. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He first became involved with global surgery during his time at the University of Virginia where he worked with a plastic surgeon and local NGO in the Philippines to provide burn and cleft care to both children and adults. While at the University of Chicago, his research focused on identifying and managing pediatric abuse and neglect burns; improving burn triage and diagnosis; reducing burn wound infections; and developing new methods of tissue engineering using fat-derived stem cells. As a resident, he expanded his research to include more globally-oriented inquiries. Specifically, his research now focuses on understanding regions and populations most impacted by burn injury, identifying the barriers to accessing and receiving burn care, developing resource-conscious solutions in burn treatment, and facilitating community-based prevention programs.