Dr. Okuda is a clinician-scientist and professor specializing in multiple sclerosis within the Department of Neurology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. He currently serves as Director of the Neuroinnovation Program and Director of the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Imaging Program. Dr. Okuda’s work currently focuses on end-to-end innovative approaches involving the design, creation and implementation of software, hardware, and manufacturing methods aimed at improving the evaluation, diagnosis, management, and education of patients with multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases. He is known for designing original platforms that improve diagnostic accuracy, treatment optimization, clinical surveillance, and more efficient healthcare methods that reduce cost. Dr. Okuda is a Diplomate of The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, Fellow of the American Neurological Association, and member of the American Academy of Neurology Committees on Neuro-imaging and Ethics.

Join us for an informal, chat-style discussion between Patient Entrepreneur, Kinza Kasher (Lyfebulb-BMS 2019 Innovation Award Winner), and Dr. Tim Coetzee, Chief Advocacy, Services and Research Officer at the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society (Lyfebulb-BMS 2019 Judge). The conversation will be lightly moderated by Lyfebulb CEO Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD. We are all living during unprecedented times created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put new and additional burdens on those living with a chronic disease like MS. Do you want to hear how others in the MS community have created solutions from their experiences, as well as what the future of MS innovation may look like? This event, part of our fireside chat series, will spotlight innovative solutions and adaptations, developed by patient entrepreneurs, in order to reduce the burden of MS. We will be sure to discuss today’s MS research landscape as well as what looks most promising for patients.

Time: Nov 10, 2020 04:30 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register here.

Applications for the $25,000 Innovation Challenge award now being accepted

NEW YORK – (November 2, 2020) – Lyfebulb, a patient-empowerment platform that connects patients with industry to support user-driven innovation, and Bristol Myers Squibb, a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and delivers innovative medicines to help patients prevail over serious diseases, today announced the launch of two key partnership initiatives that will source patient-driven innovation to address unmet needs in the management of multiple sclerosis (MS) and raise collective awareness about this chronic disease.

An Innovation Challenge will take place virtually in March 2021 and is open to patient entrepreneurs who have been directly affected by MS as either a patient or support partner for a loved one and whose U.S.-based companies are working to help address challenges that people living with or affected by MS face in their daily lives. Selected finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to an expert panel of judges comprised of healthcare industry, medical and patient leaders, and the winner will be awarded a $25,000 monetary grant.

Applications for the Innovation Challenge are now being accepted and will be available through December 9, 2020. More information can be found at https://lyfebulb.com/innovation-challenges/challenges/bristol-myers-squibb-2021/.

“The unpredictable and changing nature of MS symptoms leads to challenges for those living with the disease, and we’re proud to be working with Lyfebulb to bring entrepreneurial members of the community together to identify meaningful, patient-driven solutions,” said Tina Deignan, Vice President and US Business Unit Head of Immunology at Bristol Myers Squibb.

A series of virtual speaker sessions, leading up to the Innovation Challenge, will take place starting in October 2020 and offer MS community members the opportunity to engage in panel discussions aimed at raising collective awareness of MS and inspiring change. Speaker panels will be comprised of patient and industry leaders as well as 2019 Innovation Challenge alumni.

The speaker sessions will be open to all members of the MS community, and information about attending is available at Lyfebulb.com.

“We are thrilled to support this patient-driven innovation in MS in partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb,” said Dr. Karin Hehenberger, CEO and Founder of Lyfebulb. “While great strides have been made, the burdens of MS continue to take a toll on the nearly one million people living with the disease in the US,[i] and their support partners. By placing patients at the forefront and spotlighting their voice and solutions, we hope to inspire all members of the community to take charge and create positive change.”

About Bristol Myers Squibb

Bristol Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.

See BMS.com, LinkedInTwitterYouTubeFacebook, and Instagram.

About Lyfebulb

Lyfebulb is a chronic disease-focused patient empowerment platform that connects patients and industry to support user-driven innovation. Grounded with its strong foundation in diabetes, the company has expanded disease states covered into cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, mental health, migraine and transplantation. See Lyfebulb.comFacebookTwitterInstagramKarin Hehenberger LinkedIn, and Lyfebulb LinkedIn.

About Multiple Sclerosis Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable and often disabling disease that affects nearly one million people in the United States.[ii]  MS is a disease in which the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath that covers the nerves. The myelin damage disrupts communication between the brain and the rest of the body.[iii] Ultimately, the nerves themselves may deteriorate — a process that’s currently irreversible.[iv]

For more information:

Bristol Myers Squibb Contact:

Claire Gillespie

Director, Corporate Affairs, U.S. Immunology Communications, Bristol Myers Squibb

Phone: +1 908-938-4343

Email: Claire.Gillespie@bms.com

Lyfebulb Contact:

Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD

CEO & Founder, Lyfebulb

Phone: + 1 917-575-0210

Email: karin@lyfebulb.com

[1] National Multiple Sclerosis Society. How Many People Live with MS? www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/How-Many-People. Accessed March 25, 2020..

[2] National Multiple Sclerosis Society. MS Symptoms. https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms. Accessed September 24, 2020.

[3]  National Multiple Sclerosis Society. What is Myelin? www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Definition-of-MS/Myelin. Accessed July 07, 2020.

[4] AJMC. The Pathologic Foundations of Multiple Sclerosis: Current Considerations. https://www.ajmc.com/view/the-pathologic-foundations-of-multiple-sclerosis-current-considerations. Accessed September 24, 2020.


Monday, November 2, 2020
Applications Open
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Submission Deadline
January 11, 2021
Finalist Announcement
March 10-11, 2021
Innovation Challenge
March 12, 2021
Winner Announcement


The Innovation Challenge is open to Patient Entrepreneurs – those who have been affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) as either a patient themselves or as a support partner for a loved one – whose companies are helping develop solutions to address an unmet need in MS. The goal of the initiative is to seek new solutions, beyond therapy, to help address either challenges faced by people with MS in their daily lives or an unmet need that could potentially improve outcomes and experiences for people affected by the disease.

In March 2021, Lyfebulb and Bristol Myers Squibb will host the Summit virtually. An expert panel of judges comprised of healthcare industry, medical and patient leaders will award a $25,000 monetary grant to the most innovative, impactful business.

Beyond presenting their innovative ventures to this group for a monetary grant, the finalists will have the opportunity to exchange ideas on how to further advance patient innovation in the MS community; engage with Lyfebulb founders, Bristol Myers Squibb leadership, representatives from the patient community, key opinion leaders and potential investors; and share insights with each other.

The Lyfebulb-Bristol Myers Squibb Innovation Challenge stems from the idea of the Lyfebulb Entrepreneur Circle, established in 2015, and features individuals who have created a product and a company based on the issues encountered due to their personal experiences with a chronic illness (through their own diagnosis or that of a loved one).



Submissions should focus on new solutions, beyond therapy, that help address either challenges faced by people with MS in their daily lives or an unmet need that could potentially improve outcomes and experiences for both people with the disease and their support partners.

The judging panel will assess the following:

Unmet Need

  • What is the strategic basis for the identified problem/gap (e.g., research conducted)?
  • How is the problem/gap being specifically addressed?


  • Does the innovation have the potential to improve the lives of people affected by multiple sclerosis?
  • How great of an impact (market impact and patient impact) will the innovation make and how will it be measured?

Market Feasibility

  • How is the product or service unique to the market?
  • What is the feasibility of development and implementation into the marketplace (e.g., funding, regulations, requirements for testing)?



Applications for The Lyfebulb-Bristol Myers Squibb Innovation Challenge: Addressing Unmet Needs in MS open November 2, 2020

Email us with any questions: contact@lyfebulb.com


Applications open through Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at 11:59 PM EDT



One entrepreneur will be awarded the 2021 Lyfebulb-Bristol Myers Squibb Innovation Award, including a $25,000 monetary grant to grow their company



Applicants must be a Patient Entrepreneur (someone who has been affected by MS either as a patient or support partner for a loved one)

Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the beginning of 2020, this has been the most challenging year of her life. Balancing working from home, motherhood, and MS has been no easy feat. Upon diagnosis, Moyna started conducting tons of research, looking for support groups or general MS resources. She noticed a reoccurring theme within the MS community. She did not see many people who looked like her or had similar backgrounds. It motivated Moyna to create her Instagram. Sharing her journey and stories in hopes of inspiring others. The positive reception from her Instagram lead her to create a website and begin blogging. MS has been an inspiration to cherish each day. Spending time with family and friends and keeping close to her support system. Moyna lives in Queens, NY, with her partner and three-year-old son. 

Dr. Tim Coetzee serves as the National MS Society’s Chief Advocacy, Services and Research Officer. In this role, he leads the organization’s efforts to drive public policy, implement impactful and sustainable programs and services for people with MS, and fund innovative MS research around the world. Tim is a member of the Society’s Executive Leadership Team, serves on the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Progressive MS Alliance, and is the Co-Chair of the National Academy of Medicine’s Forum on Regenerative Medicine. Prior to joining the Society, Tim was a faculty member at the University of Connecticut Health Center where he conducted MS research focused on the area of myelin and myelin repair. Tim received his PhD in molecular biology from Albany Medical College and followed that with fellowship training at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. His work in MS research was launched with a fellowship from the National MS Society.

Tarita is the CEO and founder of Travel-For-All, a global leader in accessible travel that customizes vacations and specializes in helping travelers with various ‘Specific Requirements’ – cane users, slow walkers, complex health issues (Dialysis) Cancer ALS etc., developmental disabilities, and wheelchair users. Tarita’s world changed when she was diagnosed with MS at 29. When the progression of the disease began to affect her love of travel and ability to experience the culture of distant places, she opened her travel agency with the mantra that Travel Should Be Inclusive – Not Exclusive. TFA was founded on the belief that everyone with the desire should be able to experience the beauty of the world in which we live. The truth is that the world is not perfectly accessible, there are still bumps in the road… What is spectacular about the world is that it was made to be seen by everyone; regardless of your mobility or ability. TFA works with a select group of suppliers with the same passions as ours. Choose where and when, and we will work hard at creating what your mind envisions…

Amy Li is Founder of Dance4Healing, an award winning behavior health social venture inspired by her stage IV cancer journey. Dance4Healing is an AI-powered live video platform empowering anyone access to creative arts therapy, and building healthy habits in a fun, and supportive way. It has won over 15 awards such as Stanford Medicine X Healthcare Design Award, Stanford Health++ Hackathon Intel Nervana AI Cluster Grand Prize, top 5 finalist for Pfizer’s global mBC Challenge, 2nd prize for Partners Connected Health Fit Mind Challenge sponsored by AARP. Amy also founded Stage IV {Wicked Wisdom} Network: a global network of leaders who champion for Technology for Social Good, Healthcare Innovation, Integrative Medicine, and Patient Advocacy. Our mission is 1 million lives saved from cancer and other life difficulties through inspiring stories, public education, and technology innovation. Amy is a UX, design and branding expert for global brands such as Yahoo, AT&T, VW and Sony. Her first iPhone App Have2P was independently reviewed and featured as “App of the Week” at New York Times, leading to a major media storm in over 50 publications, such as NBC, Yahoo! News, Gizmodo, Popsugar, praised as third on the list of “11 Coolest App ever.” This resulted in millions of downloads within 4 weeks, and a successful cross-sale of a whole suite of AT&T R&D apps. Amy graduated from Singularity University, which is known for empowering future leaders to use technology to positively impact the world. She is a board member of Humanity+, an international non-profit advocate using technology to expand human capacities.

Shawna Persaud has 15 years of pre-clinical research experience and has published in the fields of stem and cancer cell biology. As clinical and product manager at Abilitech Medical, she leads all clinical and marketing initiatives, including the development of the Abilitech Assist 75 patient post-market outcomes study with the University of Minnesota and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Shawna has consulted with several biotech and medical device startups in the twin cities area including a 3D printed exoskeletal nonprofit, Magic Arms. She received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Minnesota.

Wim Van Hecke, PhD, is the founder and CEO of icometrix (Chicago, USA; Leuven, Belgium). Wim is an academic engineer by training with two Master degrees in applied biomedical engineering and neuroimaging, and a PhD in diffusion MRI analysis. He is author or co-author of over 150 scientific publications, the editor of a clinical neuroimaging handbook, has won numerous scientific awards and is frequently invited to present his work at courses, conferences and hospitals around the world.

Wim is the founder of icometrix, a leader in software AI solutions to obtain clinically meaningful data from brain MRI and CT scans. The goal of icometrix is to transform the care of patients with neurological disorders through imaging AI and a more objective diagnosis and monitoring.