Lyfebulb-CSL Behring Innovation Challenge: Thriving with Transplantation

Virtual Summit
May 12-13, 2021


January 7, 2021
Applications Open
February 19, 2021
Submission Deadline
March 24, 2021
Finalist Announcement
May 12-13, 2021
Innovation Challenge
May 13, 2021
Winner Announcement


Dr. Minnie Sarwal is a key opinion leader in clinical and translational research that focuses on native organ diseases and organ transplantation. She was Principal Investigator of the parent R01 grant (R01DK109720) entitled “CD40 Autoantibody and FSGS Recurrence.” Her training and decades-long contribution to clinical and basic science stemmed from her career both at Stanford University, where she was Medical Director of the Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program, and at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), where she is Co-Director of the Kidney-Pancreas Transplant Program and Director of the Precision Transplant Medicine program.

Minnie is also Co-Director of the T32 training grant in Transplant Surgery. Her research has focused on mechanisms and biomarkers for understanding renal transplant injury, and on improving diagnosis and therapies for renal diseases such as diabetes, IgA, and FSGS, with a primary focus on improving diagnostics for solid organ and bone marrow transplantation. To interrogate biological systems, her lab is using multi-omic assays and bioinformatics. Her lab has published in high impact journals such as the NEJM, PNAS, Nature Medicine, Nature Methods, Journal of Immunology, Journal of Experimental Methods, PLOS Medicine, and Science Translational Medicine.

Dr. Minnie Sarwal
Founder & CEO


The goal of the 2021 Lyfebulb-CSL Behring Innovation Challenge: Thriving with Transplantation is to source innovative solutions to improve outcomes and experiences for all those affected by transplantation.

The Innovation Challenge will take place virtually in May 2021 and is currently accepting applications through February 19, 2021. Patient entrepreneurs – those who have been affected by chronic disease as either a patient or support partner for a loved one and started a company to develop solutions to an unmet need identified in their disease journey – are encouraged to apply.

Selected finalists will receive an invitation to pitch their company’s solutions to an expert panel of judges comprised of healthcare industry, medical and patient leaders. One winner will be awarded a $25,000 monetary grant. Competing finalists may be considered for possible partnerships or investments beyond the challenge. Beyond presenting their innovative ventures, the finalists will have the opportunity to exchange ideas on how to further advance patient innovation in the transplant community; engage with Lyfebulb founders, CSL Behring leadership leadership, representatives from the patient community, key opinion leaders and potential investors; and share insights with each other.

The Lyfebulb-CSL Behring 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).




Mark A. Hardy, MD, PhD (Hon), FACS

Director Emeritus and Founder, Renal and Islet Transplantation, and Surgeon, Abdominal Organ Transplantation and Islets at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center

Stephen Squinto, PhD

Executive Partner at OrbiMed, Co-Founder at Alexion, and Co-Founder & Chairman at Lyfebulb

Alex Tulchinsky

Chief Technology Officer at United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)

Lara Abounayan

Transplant Patient Ambassador at Lyfebulb and Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at Healing the Hurt Consulting

John Ponsoll

Managing Director at Symbiotix at Havas Health & You


The judging panel will assess the following:


  • 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 transplantation?
  • How great of an impact (market impact and patient impact) will the innovation make and how will it be measured?


  • 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)?


Submissions should focus on innovative solutions with the potential to improve outcomes and experiences using devices, diagnostics, consumer products, products for healthcare professionals, digital healthcare or healthcare IT to directly treat or manage transplants, or support overall physical and mental well-being.

The solution may address the following:


  • Directly treating or managing transplant
  • Supporting overall physical and mental well-being


  • Patients (recipients), donors, families, and loved ones
  • Medical community and society


  • All stages of the journey from pre-transplantation through long-term management




Applications open on Wednesday, January 7, 2021



Applications close on Friday, February 19, 2021, at 11:59 PM EDT



Finalists will be pitch their solutions over the course of a two day summit May 12-13, 2021



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