Public Health  
 October 14, 2021

Loyola University Chicago and Lyfebulb Announce 11 Finalists for 2021 Innovation Challenge

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