They will compete for a total of $75,000 to be distributed among up to three winners

CHICAGO and NEW YORK October 14, 2021 – Loyola University Chicago’s Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health and Lyfebulb, a patient-empowerment platform and innovation accelerator connecting patients with patients and with industry to support user-driven innovation, announce the 11 finalists for the 2021 Innovation Challenge: “Meeting Our Moment – Reimagining Innovation, Improving Health Equity, and Building Resiliency”.

“We are very excited to announce this inspirational group of finalists in our first public health initiative in partnership with an academic institution,” said Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD, founder and CEO, Lyfebulb. “They demonstrate a high degree of ingenuity and conceptual diversity, exhibiting one of this initiative’s primary goals: to highlight the importance of using cross-sectoral approaches to solve complex health challenges.”

The finalists are:

  • Shireen Abdullah, CEO at Yumlish
  • Romy Antoine, CEO at One Stop Wellness
  • Rohan Dixit, founder and CEO at Lief Therapeutics
  • Sathya Elumalai, founder and CEO at Aidar Health
  • Tim Fitzpatrick, co-founder and CEO at IKONA Health
  • Kimberly Gandy, MD, PhD, founder and CEO at Play-it Health
  • Katherine Grill, PhD, co-founder and CEO at Neolth
  • Yair Saperstein, MD, co-founder and CEO at avoMD
  • Mihir Shah, founder and president at UE LifeSciences
  • Donald Vetal, CEO at LyfLynks
  • Jerry Wilmink, PhD, CBO at CarePredict

“Health is a complex interplay between systemic forces such as economic disparity, racism, climate change, and the immediate challenges to personal and community health facing people every day,” said Elaine H. Morrato, DrPH, MPH, CPH, founding dean and professor, Parkinson School. “These finalists reflect the entrepreneurial energy, the broad-based expertise, and the fervent spirit of Parkinson School students and faculty to impact determinants of health in multiple dimensions.”

The 2021 Innovation Challenge seeks to accelerate the growth of solutions to address the effects of emerging infectious diseases (such as COVID-19) by improving population and public health, health care delivery, and health equity. The 11 finalists were co-selected by the Lyfebulb and Parkinson School teams based on the potential impact, feasibility, and sustainability of their innovations in the market and healthcare ecosystem.

After participating in networking and discussion activities on the first day of the Summit, the finalists will present their solutions to an expert panel of judges comprised of public health, venture philanthropy, technology, and healthcare leaders on November 17, 2021. A total of $75,000 will be distributed among up to three winners, to be selected by judges. The judging panel will include:

  • Lisa Hehenberger, PhD, associate professor, Department of Strategy and General Management at ESADE Business School and director at ESADE Entrepreneurship Institute & Center for Social Impact (Barcelona)
  • John Ponsoll, managing director at Symbiotix at Havas Health & You (New York)
  • Ramanathan Raju, MD, MBA, FRCS, FACS, FACHE, former senior vice president and chief community health investment officer at Northwell Health New York, former president and CEO at  NYC Health and Hospitals, and former CEO at Cook County Health System (Chicago)
  • Abigail Silva, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health and director at the Institute of Public Health at Loyola University Chicago
  • Jeffrey Yang, chief technology officer at Lyfebulb, IT/digital product advisor, and managing partner at Yang Consulting (New York)

Beyond the pitch competition, the 2021 Innovation Challenge will provide opportunities for finalists and other participants to engage in discussions and exchange insights and ideas about how best to address the obstacles posed by emerging infectious diseases to health systems, disease control measures, care access, and individual health outcomes, which are further exacerbated by social disparities in health. To learn more about the Challenge, please visit

About the Lyfebulb and Loyola University Chicago Partnership

The partnership reflects a shared commitment to advancing health equity and improving health outcomes for individuals, populations, and systems. The inaugural 2021 Innovation Challenge seeks to strengthen and engage entrepreneurs from health care, technology, and other sectors as well as the Lyfebulb and Loyola communities. Additionally, the 2021 Innovation Challenge will generate awareness around the effects of emerging infectious diseases and identify promising solutions that reduce health disparities and improve health care delivery.

About the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health

Loyola University Chicago launched the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health in Fall 2019 to educate the health entrepreneurs of the future and impact health care accessibility and equity nationally. The Parkinson School offers 17 degree programs and three certificate and internship programs through four areas of study: Public Health Sciences, Healthcare Administration, Health Informatics and Data Science, and Applied Health Sciences. In Fall 2021, it launched a new 4+1 BSPH/MPH dual-degree program. The Parkinson School builds on the foundations of Loyola’s nationally recognized Stritch School of Medicine and its Biomedical Programs, Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, and Loyola’s partnership with Trinity Health (known in the Chicago area as Loyola Medicine). To learn more about the Parkinson School, follow us on Twitter @LoyolaParkinson, on LinkedIn, or on Instagram @loyolaparkinson.

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, visit, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Karin Hehenberger LinkedIn.


Loyola University Chicago
Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health

Taylor Utzig
Communications Specialist

Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD
CEO & Founder

Dr. Lisa Hehenberger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Strategy and General Management at ESADE Business School and Director of its Center for Social Impact. She is a renowned expert on social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, impact investment, and entrepreneurship. Dr. Hehenberger is a member of the Impact & Sustainable Finance Faculty Consortium set up by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and a member of CNBC’s Disruptor 50 Advisory Council, a group of leading thinkers in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship. She is also a member of the Academic Working Group on Impact Measurement and Management of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Dr. Hehenberger’s research focuses on market building as an entrepreneurial project in the contexts of social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, and impact investing. She is the author of numerous books, policy papers, and practitioner reports and has published in the most prestigious academic peer-reviewed journals in management, such as the Academy of Management Journal, as well as in practitioner-oriented publications, such as Stanford Social Innovation Review. She is a member of the scientific board of SDA Bocconi School of Management’s Impact Investing Lab and has served as advisor to the EU-funded research projects SEFORIS (social entrepreneurship for innovative and inclusive societies) and ITSSOIN (impact of the third sector as social innovation). Dr. Hehenberger launched the ESADE Center for Social Impact, through which she is engaged in numerous research projects (e.g. on migrant social entrepreneurship, social impact bonds, venture philanthropy, impact investing in Spain, etc.) and set up ESADE’s impact community and the Social Impact Lab of the MBA to connect ESADE students with the impact sector.

Dr. Hehenberger sits on the advisory boards of impact investing funds such as Creas, Rubio Impact Ventures, Oryx Impact Fund, People and Planet Partners, and Seastainable Ventures and of Lyfebulb. She has advised organizations such as World Wide Fund for Nature, Repsol Foundation, and Meridia Capital Partners on their impact investment strategies. For six years, she was the Research and Policy Director of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA), the pan-European association for venture philanthropy and social impact investment, where she currently serves as a strategic advisor on research and policy. She also represents the ESADE Entrepreneurship Institute as the academic partner of the Spanish National Advisory Board on Impact Investing (Spain NAB) and served on the French National Advisory Board and the Impact Measurement Working Group of the Social Impact Investment Task Force established by the G8.

Dr. Hehenberger has a PhD in management from IESE Business School and a master’s degree in business and economics from Stockholm School of Economics and HEC (CEMS). Previously, she worked in investment banking at Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) in London and at GB Investment Banking in Madrid and Barcelona.

Dr. Ram Raju has a distinguished career of over 40 years as a healthcare provider, teacher, researcher, and community organizer. In his role at Northwell Health – the largest provider in the state of New York serving 2 million people every year in the New York metro area and beyond – Dr. Raju set the strategic vision to improve population health by examining the existing programs aimed at improving the health system’s response to the needs of its most vulnerable communities and working with local organizations to address them.

Prior to joining Northwell, Dr. Raju was the President and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest public health system in the country. Dr. Raju was appointed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in January 2014 to lead the 37,000 employees of this $7.3 billion corporation, which includes 11 acute care hospitals, five nursing homes, six large diagnostic and treatment centers, more than 70 community-based health centers, a large home care agency, and one of the New York area’s largest providers of government-sponsored health insurance, MetroPlus Health Plan. During his tenure, he rebranded HHC, implemented EPIC EMR, set a new vision for HHC, and successfully managed the Ebola crisis in NYC.

From 2011 to 2014, Dr. Raju served as the CEO for the Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCHHS) in Chicago, the third-largest public health system in the country. His proposed healthcare delivery model fetched the much-coveted 1115 Waiver to the Social Security Act, enabling the creation of CountyCare, an Illinois Medicaid program that provided health coverage for more than 182,000 low-income Cook County residents. Dr. Raju’s further recognition that patients are more likely to use care they can access near their home resulted in the development of a network of more than 130 primary care access points through partnerships with FQHCs, safety-net and community hospitals, academic medical centers, and private doctors.

Dr. Raju has served on many local, regional, and national organizations, including as past Vice-Chair of the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) and as board of Trustees of America’s Essential Hospitals and Healthcare Association of NY State (HANYS). He is president-elect of Asian HealthCare Leaders Association (AHCLA), Board Trustee of the American Hospital Association (AHA), a trustee of the NY Academy of Medicine, a board member of NYS Office of Professional Conduct, and was appointed to the NYC Board of Health by the Mayor of NYC. His community activities include serving as a board member of Community Board 2 and Iron Hills Civic Association and a member of the NYS Board of Medicine and Director of NYS OPMC. He served on many FSMB committees and serves as an alternate delegate for the FSMB House of Delegates.

Dr. Raju earned his medical diploma and Master of Surgery degree from Madras Medical College. He underwent further training in England and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. Dr. Raju is also a physician executive, having obtained an MBA from the University of Tennessee and CPE from the American College of Physician Executives.

After spending most of her career as a project manager and management consultant, Shireen decided to change paths and pursue her passion to become a “nutri-prenuer.”  While managing her own illness, she realized the importance of cultural nutrition education paired with an empowering, patient-centered care model to close gaps in health equity for minorities. Her startup is called Yumlish, creating an AI-powered, culturally relevant nutrition therapy platform for minorities with diabetes that addresses socioeconomic barriers to dietary adherence.

With a passion for health and wellness, 10 years of professional experience in fitness and health coaching, and current research on health equity, Romy Antoine began his career in 2012 by creating a science-backed fitness media company, RippedNFit. Romy holds a degree in Biology and Exercise Science from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and was able to use his fitness knowledge to dispel myths and communicate to subscribers and followers how to improve their lifestyles and manage any chronic conditions. Over the course of 5 years, he grew the website to gain the attention of over 250,000 monthly viewers.

Romy also worked as a personal trainer and health coach with clients who were either diabetic or pre-diabetic and received additional education on management strategies to help clients come off their medication. At the beginning of his personal training career, Romy worked at gyms in low-income areas and had the opportunity to train clients dealing with multiple chronic conditions.

Romy continued to build RippedNFit, but also took on community roles with non-profits such as Proceed Inc, where he worked with preschool-aged children and their families on how to increase activities at home and how to eat for better health. Through these roles as well as through some of his consulting positions, Romy started to see the disparities, impact of health education, and lack of high-quality access for lower income individuals. Romy helped the San Antonio American Heart Association by doing local outreach to provide blood pressure screens and nutritional advice at Black Churches and the YMCA.

As Romy continued to improve personal wellness, he found an opportunity in corporate wellness by providing workshops for companies. Drawing on his second passion for technology and artificial intelligence, this opportunity eventually led Romy to create technology to support these employees, which is how One Stop Wellness started. Romy has spoken at countless conferences and received The 2018 Young Wellness Professional Award by the National Wellness Institute. He also published a book titled The Ultimate Guide to Engaging Millennials discussing the shifts that would happen in the workplace, all of which came to fruition due to the pandemic.

Dr. Kimberly Gandy is a physician/scientist and entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in healthcare, her clinical and scientific career including institutions such as Duke and Stanford. Having been a leader in her field of transplantation, she has led international committees in translational medicine and been selected by her peers as one of the nation’s top doctors. Having cared for patients in transplantation and congenital heart disease, she has a deep understanding of the importance and issues involved in motivating patients to be adherent. Kim founded Play-it Health and for the past 8 years has developed Play-it Health’s platform, which is considered one of the most versatile platforms in the virtual care management space and has been selected by multiple institutions as their choice platform on which to study long-COVID. Over the years, the platform has been recognized by multiple groups for innovation, including the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association.

Dr. Katherine Grill received a BS in Art Therapy, MA in Psychology, and PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience. While completing her PhD, she worked at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC conducting NIH research. She was also the co-founder of a community health program for young adults called Mindful Millennials. In 2017, Dr. Grill moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to learn about using technology to increase access to mental health care. In 2018 she founded Neolth, a technology company that provides personalized, on-demand mental health support to teens through a self-guided platform.

As the Co-founder and CEO of Neolth, Dr. Grill has won numerous awards, including the 2021 Timmy Finalist as a Best Tech for Social Good company (competition ongoing), 2020 Startup of the Year EdTech award, Top 100 Startup in 2020 by SOTY, Top 100 company in 2020 by Pepperdine University, the SoGal San Francisco Regional Pitch Competition, and the SoGal Global Finals Pitch Competition, the largest pitch competition for female founders in the world. She led the company to receive a $700,000 pre-seed investment, with notable investors like Techstars and Telosity. She was invited to and participated in the Techstars accelerator (which has a less than 1% acceptance rate), the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center’s Milestone Makers program, and the Headstream program (the youth mental health accelerator supported by Pivotal Ventures). She has been featured in numerous articles and received press for her work with Neolth, including being featured in Forbes alongside the founders of Bumble and Zyper in 2021 as a leading female founder and being honored with a display on the Nasdaq Tower in Times Square in 2020.

Dr. Grill lives in the Bay Area with her husband and co-founder, Lukas Grill, and their two huskies, Kai and Leo. In her free time, Katherine enjoys hiking, swimming, baking, and learning German.

Dr. Yair Saperstein is a board-certified internal medicine physician affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) and graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine with distinction in research in global health and from Yeshiva College as valedictorian. Previously, Dr. Saperstein co-founded two non-profit organizations, and, and served as the inpatient medicine chief resident at Kings County Hospital. Additionally, Yair is an acclaimed classical concert pianist and recreational ukulele jammer and has won numerous awards, including The Jewish Week’s “36 under 36” most influential Jewish Americans, and was a semifinalist in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.

Gerald “Jerry” Wilmink, PhD is an American health entrepreneur, biomedical engineer, and inventor. Before joining CarePredict as the Chief Business Development Officer, he founded WiseWear in 2013. WiseWear, like CarePredict, was a senior health technology company that developed IoT products to keep seniors healthy, safe, and secure. Jerry’s former experience also includes founding and growing the first Terahertz biosensing laboratory in the Department of Defense (DoD) and serving as a program manager for the U.S. government’s $3 Billion SBIR/STTR product commercialization program.

Jerry has penned 6 patents, published 50 technical manuscripts, and has delivered over 200 presentations at leading business and technical conferences including CES, RISE, TEDMED, SXSW, and SPIE. He co-chairs Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) initiative on Artificial Intelligence in healthcare. Jerry was recognized as the 2019 Argentum Senior Living Leader Under 40. He also previously served as an advisor for the United States National Academy of Sciences NRC, SMART, and NDSEG programs.

Jerry earned his BS, MS, and PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University, a research associateship with the National Academy of Science, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

Sathya Elumalai is a healthcare executive with over 15 years of experience working with payers, providers, pharmaceuticals, and patients. Mr. Elumalai is the Founder, President, and CEO at Aidar Health, a digital medicine company based on Baltimore. At Aidar Health, Inc., Mr. Elumalai has developed MouthLab, a revolutionary tricorder-style health assessment device that measures 10+ health parameters in 30 seconds, and an AI-enabled enterprise platform, which leverages data science and AI technology to create a new kind of personalized experience for people with chronic conditions.

In addition to his efforts at Aidar, Mr. Elumalai also serves as an Advisory Board Member at Rutgers University, Scientific Merit Reviewer at the National Science Foundation, Executive Member of Forbes Business Council, and an Ambassador & Merit Reviewer at the Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute.

Mr. Elumalai holds a dual master’s degree, with a Master of Public Health and an MBA in Healthcare Management from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. He is also a certified professional in healthcare quality and safety with over 10 years of diverse leadership experience at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute.

Mr. Elumalai is a proven leader recognized for building scalable processes, integrating analytics into decision making, improving customer satisfaction, and driving large-scale digital transformations in healthcare.