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Finalists will compete for a $25,000 award

NEW YORK, NY, USA June 29, 2021 – Lyfebulb, a patient-empowerment platform and innovation accelerator that connects patients with one another and with industry to support user-driven innovation, and Arena Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on developing innovative therapeutics for immune-mediated conditions, announce the ten patient entrepreneurs selected as finalists for the 2021 Imagining Life Without Limits – An Inflammatory Bowel Disease Innovation Challenge.

  • Ali Arjomand, PhD, Co-Founder at Allay Health
  • Atray Dixit, PhD, Co-Founder & CEO at Coral Genomics
  • Avinoam Dukler, PhD, Managing Partner & President at Glycominds
  • Sam Holliday, CEO at Oshi Health
  • Vik Kashyap, CEO at Toi Labs
  • Iraklis Kourtis, PhD, Co-Founder at Chronicles Health, Inc.
  • Asaf Kraus, CEO at Dieta Health
  • Elena Mustatea, Co-Founder & CEO at Bold Health
  • Sriram Muthukumar, PhD, Co-Founder & CEO at EnLiSense
  • David Schoen, Co-Founder & CEO at GI Trak

Lyfebulb and Arena Pharmaceuticals’ goal with this Innovation Challenge is to identify new and meaningful solutions that help patients, support partners, and all those affected by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to better manage their health, navigate daily life, and improve overall quality of life. The ten finalists selected to compete at the Challenge were chosen based on the potential of their innovative ventures to address these issues as well as their personal stories that sparked the launch of their companies.

“IBD comprises a set of chronic diseases that affect each individual throughout the day, from diet choices to exercise to therapeutic options. Consequentially, monitoring biometrics and more qualitative personal metrics may help in detecting flare-ups early or even prevent some of the comorbidities associated with the condition,” stated Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD, CEO of Lyfebulb. “These innovators have each taken their own path to providing new solutions that address the problems faced by IBD patients – with the goal of improving overall outcomes for patients. We look forward to bringing everyone together at the summit to work toward our shared goal of reducing the burden of living with IBD.”

The finalists will pitch their companies’ solutions to an expert panel of judges comprised of leaders from the healthcare, business, and patient advocacy fields on September 10, 2021. The jury will ultimately select one winner to be awarded a $25,000 monetary grant to further the growth of their company. The judging panel will include:

  • Gerard Honig, PhD, Director of Research Innovation at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
  • Folasade (Fola) May, MD, PhD, MPhil, Assistant Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Associate Director at the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity
  • Tina Aswani Omprakash, Lyfebulb Patient Ambassador, Health and Disability Advocate, Founder at Own Your Crohn’s, and Co-Founder at IBDesis
  • Jeiran Otmishi, Managing Director at Havas Health & You
  • Brad Vale, PhD, DVM, Founder and General Partner at Treo Ventures

“Arena values bold ideas, relentless thinking, and continuous innovation,” said Lopa Desai, SVP, Head of Global Commercial Operations & Access, Arena Pharmaceuticals. “We are pleased to see the finalists approach the Innovation Challenge with creativity and tenacity to advance ideas with the potential to improve the lives of patients living with IBD.”

Beyond the pitch competition, the Challenge will provide opportunities for the finalists and participating guests to exchange ideas and insights about how to further advance patient innovation in the IBD community and impact change. To learn more about the Challenge, please visit:

About the Lyfebulb and Arena Partnership

Rooted in the collaborative spirit of the Lyfebulb and Arena partnership and a shared commitment to continuous innovation in patient care, the 2021 Innovation Challenge endeavours to strengthen and engage the IBD community, support the sharing of experiences and insights, identify promising and impactful solutions, and ultimately change lives. The Innovation Challenge is one component of a larger sponsorship between Lyfebulb and Arena to partner directly with IBD patients, support partners and community leaders to accomplish these goals.

About Lyfebulb

Lyfebulb is an innovation accelerator that bridges the gap between patient communities and the healthcare industry by working directly with patients and care partners to generate insights and build new solutions to reduce the burden of living with chronic disease. Lyfebulb operates across 11 disease states and counting. For more information, see, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Karin Hehenberger LinkedIn.

About Arena Pharmaceuticals

ARENA Pharmaceuticals is a team with a singular purpose – deliver important medicines to patients. In a rapidly changing treatment landscape, we work with a sense of urgency every day to identify the needs of the GI community and identify bold, sometimes disruptive, ideas to get medicines to patients. It’s our determination to help improve the lives of millions of people suffering from GI disorders that inspires us all to relentlessly execute, until it’s done. ARENA – Care More. Act Differently.

For more information:

Lyfebulb Contact:

Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD

CEO & Founder, Lyfebulb

Phone: + 1 917-575-0210


Arena Contact:

Patrick Malloy

Vice President, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications

Phone: +1 847-987-4878


Jeiran brings over 25 years of pharma experience from both the client and services sides. As a Managing Director at Havas Health & You, Jeiran leads integrated service delivery models for the network across a number of therapeutic areas. Prior to joining the services side, Jeiran spent 15 years on the client side. Her decade in Pfizer’s marketing organization encompassed experience throughout a variety of brands to include leadership of Lyrica across its full cross-functional, multi-indication portfolio. Among Jeiran’s most meaningful contributions to the healthcare industry was her involvement in the development and execution of Pfizer’s global tobacco control policy plan through private and public health sector engagement. The staggering results included the commitment by 172 governments around the world to WHO’s healthcare treaty to make the treatment of nicotine dependence available to their populations.

Jeiran graduated with a bachelor’s in Mathematics and a master’s in Medical Sciences in addition to Business Administration. She was born in California and has lived and worked in Iran, the UK, China, and the US. Jeiran has lived in New York City for the past 20 years. She currently resides in Tribeca with her husband, Duke, and AussiePoo, Rumi (named after the Persian poet).

Dr. Fola May is an Assistant Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine and an Associate Director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity. She received a B.A. in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology from Yale University before obtaining a Masters of Epidemiology at the University of Cambridge (UK) where she studied global health and the obesity epidemic. She attended medical school at Harvard University and trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital before completing a fellowship in gastroenterology at UCLA Health and a PhD in Health Policy and Management from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. 

Dr. May’s research focuses on improving healthcare outcomes and addressing health disparities in multiple clinical settings, including UCLA Health, the Veterans Affairs, and Federally Qualified Health Centers. She has designed and executed multiple studies to examine the impact of patient, provider, and system factors on many chronic disease states, including obesity, colorectal cancer, chronic liver disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma. She utilizes both qualitative and quantitative approaches to design, implement, and evaluate population health strategies to increase access to preventive services and to increase health equity. In the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases at UCLA Health, she is the Director of Quality Improvement in Gastroenterology and Director of the May Health Services Research Laboratory, and she has received funding and recognition from the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, American College of Gastroenterology, Tobacco Related Disease Research Program, National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, and Broad Stem Cell Research Center. Dr. May is also involved in advocacy at the state and national level to develop and encourage policy to improve healthcare delivery and health equity.

Dr. Brad Vale is a founder and general partner of Treo Ventures, a Silicon Valley- and Ireland-based medical device and healthcare IT venture fund. Dr. Vale was a Vice President at Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC) starting in 1992 and in 2012 was named Head of JJDC. Dr. Vale’s investments focused mainly on biotech and medical device companies with an emphasis on implantable medical devices. He joined JNJ at Ethicon R&D, moved into the Corporate Science & Technology Office before joining JJDC in 1992, and in 1997 moved to California to establish its Silicon Valley office. He invested in over 30 companies for JJDC, including five that were ultimately acquired by various J&J subsidiaries. Dr. Vale has extensive experience in medical device research and development, including blood-compatible polymers, lasers, microsurgery, novel tissue closure, and hyaluronic acid for adhesion prevention. Dr. Vale has served as a director for many biotech and medtech companies, including Neuropace, CVRx, Nevro, USGI, GI Dynamics,, and Atrionix. Dr. Vale has published in the area of medical device development and laser surgery. He holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Iowa State University and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Washington State University. He completed his BS in Chemistry and Biology at Beloit College in Wisconsin.  He currently sits on the boards of Nevro (NYSE: NVRO), Hyalex, Shiratronics, Intuity, Agilvax, and Tramway Ventures.

Dr. Gerard Honig is Director of Research Innovation at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, a patient advocacy organization and leading funder of research in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). He launched and currently manages a venture philanthropy fund, IBD Ventures, focused on investing in investigational products with potential to address the critical unmet needs of patients with IBD. He also is responsible for advancing biomarkers and precision medicine solutions in the IBD field through internal and external research programs and consortium activities, including serving as co-chair for the Mucosal Healing project team of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Biomarkers Consortium and leading the development of a prognostic test for pediatric Crohn’s in partnership with LifeArc.

Gerard received his PhD in neuroscience at the University of California San Francisco as a fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and subsequently trained in immunology and microbiome research. In 2013, Gerard developed and implemented a novel clinical-stage therapeutic modality for the treatment of C. difficile infection; he subsequently launched a biotechnology company focused on the development of novel drug delivery systems for gastrointestinal diseases. Gerard serves on numerous boards and committees, including the board of directors and scientific advisory committee of the Peggy Lillis Foundation; the steering committee for the AGA Fecal Microbiota Transplantation National Registry; the Health Research Alliance Program Committee and the mentorship committee for Entrepreneurship Lab NYC. In his spare time, Gerard enjoys Japanese martial arts, kayaking, and cooking.

Dr. Ali Arjomand is a nutrition scientist, entrepreneur, and mission-driven business executive delivering impact through translational science. Ali is the founder of Modulla Health, an IBD-focused nutrition clinic, where he develops and delivers personalized nutritional interventions to IBD patients. These science-based nutritional interventions have transformed the disease course of Modulla’s clients, as they did to Ali’s own disease.

As a Crohn’s disease patient for 20 years, Ali received the best-in-class medical care, including steroids, biologic therapy, and two GI surgeries. None of this achieved sustained results, and, after failing his medications again in 2016, Ali decided to take complete ownership of his disease. He applied his science training in nutrition to successfully achieve remarkable, medication-free, long-lasting success. Ali is publishing these findings in gastroenterology peer-reviewed journals.

Before these personal transformations, Ali’s career path included scientific, strategic, and executive leadership roles at innovative, vision-driven organizations, including working directly with Bill Gates on global health, nutrition, agriculture, and infectious disease challenges. Prior to that, Ali founded Accium BioSciences, a first-of-its-kind research laboratory that commercialized innovations he developed in graduate school. Ali designed and conducted over 50 Phase 1 clinical studies for FDA review in partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and led an NIH-funded clinical study in glioblastoma patients.

Ali received his PhD in Nutrition and his BS in Genetics, both from the University of California, Davis. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and twin daughters.

Dr. Iraklis Kourtis is an innovation-driven biomedical engineer (Swiss Institute of Technology, ETH) with over 15 years of experience in human-factors design, pharma industry, healthtech startups, and entrepreneurship. Iraklis has founded and co-founded numerous companies, including Hyalex Orthopaedics, which secured a total of $33M in series A funding. More recently, inspired by his own experience living with Crohn’s disease, he co-founded Chronicles, a digital health startup, to empower patients living with inflammatory bowel disease and revolutionize management and treatment of the condition. He is constantly assessing gaps and unmet needs to improve the quality of life of patients. He is an expert in digital health, bioengineering, drug delivery and physiology, and medical device development. He is a proud dad of two, a marathoner, and a tech gear junkie, and is happiest when outdoors.

Elena Mustatea is Co-Founder and CEO of Bold Health, a virtual care provider for digestive conditions that combines the telehealth services of a multidisciplinary GI-focused care team with digital therapeutic programs for self-management. Elena received the 21st Century Icon Innovator Technology Award and was named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List while working as a Venture Capital Investor with the leading European VC fund Atomico, where she covered digital health and software as a service amongst other verticals. She previously worked in investment banking at J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, in management consulting at Oliver Wyman, and ran a media business in university. Elena is Romanian and received her Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Dr. Atray Dixit co-founded Coral Genomics after finishing his graduate work in 2018 with the mission of understanding and reducing variability in therapeutic response for all patients. In this role, he works with a diverse team and key external stakeholders in the healthcare system. In Aviv Regev’s lab at the Broad Institute, he focused on developing novel methods for high throughput genetic screening. In 2016, he led a team to develop Perturb-seq, a technology which allows genetically encoded perturbations (like CRISPR edits) to be screened using single-cell RNA-seq. Atray also developed new methods to enable large combinatorial screens such as Shuffle-seq. He translated the big data skills he learned through these projects during a brief externship at Apple’s Applied Machine Learning division. Atray received his BSE in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 2012 and his PhD through MIT’s Health Sciences and Technology program.