Public Health  
 November 18, 2021

Loyola University Chicago and Lyfebulb Announce the Winners of the 2021 Innovation Challenge

Katherine Grill, PhD, of Neolth has been selected to receive a $35,000 award, and two runners-up have been selected to each receive a $20,000 award

CHICAGO and NEW YORK November 18, 2021 – Loyola University Chicago’s Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health and Lyfebulb, a patient-empowerment platform and innovation accelerator, are excited to announce that Katherine Grill, PhD, co-founder and CEO at Neolth, was selected as the first-place winner of the 2021 Lyfebulb and Loyola University Chicago Innovation Challenge: “Meeting Our Moment – Reimagining Innovation, Improving Health Equity, and Building Resiliency.”

Neolth will receive a $35,000 award to further develop its mission of addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth mental health by using technology to deliver affordable and accessible mental health support to students during times of crisis. Neolth’s AI-driven digital platform and mobile app offers an end-to-end solution for youth mental health, offering multiple resources and tools to help teens build resilience, increase emotional awareness, reduce stigma, and gain community and professional support.

Two runners-up will each receive a $20,000 award to further the growth of their companies. Yair Saperstein, MD, founder and CEO at avoMD, was selected for providing next-generation clinical decision support at the point of care, providing the best way for clinicians to deploy evidence-based protocols and standardized care pathways and thus reduce variations in the delivery of care. Additionally, Mihir Shah, founder and president at UE LifeSciences, was selected for enabling frontline health workers to easily find and document breast lumps without pain or radiation and in just a few minutes, providing equitable, affordable, and scalable access to care for women of all demographics.

The 2021 Innovation Challenge awards are funded by the generous endowment from Bob and Betty Parkinson, which created the Parkinson School. In addition to opportunities to network and engage with Loyola leadership and its broader community of students, faculty, and connected institutions, the three winners also received an invitation to participate in the five-week I-Corps@NCATS training program, which will be hosted by the Parkinson School in Spring 2022.

“The level of innovation presented by each finalist was impressive and inspiring, and we look forward to seeing their ventures grow and positively impact the healthcare ecosystem,” said Karin Hehenberger, MD, PhD, founder and CEO of Lyfebulb. “COVID-19 has posed significant challenges for all, but we have witnessed its disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, and we applaud our three winners for their dedication to improving access to care and reducing health disparities to create healthier and more resilient communities.”

The 2021 Innovation Challenge took place virtually on November 16-17 and was open to entrepreneurs from diverse sectors working to address the effects of emerging infectious diseases (such as COVID-19) by improving population and public health, health care delivery, and health equity. Finalists were selected to compete at the Challenge and pitch their companies’ solutions to a panel of independent judges from a range of industries, including experts in the fields of public health, venture philanthropy, technology, and healthcare. Solutions presented ranged from biotechnology and contact tracing platforms to virtual clinics, wearables, and other products for consumers and healthcare professionals.

“This marks an exciting chapter for the Parkinson School,” said Elaine Morrato, DrPH, MPH, CPH, founding dean, Parkinson School. “With our inaugural 2021 Innovation Challenge, we are catalyzing innovation by funding novel solutions to improve society’s responsiveness to emerging health crises with the dual goal of reducing health inequities.”

To continue their commitment to facilitating discourse on public health, health care delivery, and health equity, the Parkinson School and Lyfebulb will be hosting a Fireside Chat with the winners of the 2021 Innovation Challenge and two members of the jury on Tuesday, November 30, at 4:30 p.m. EST. This virtual discussion is open to all members of the community, and more information may be found on

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 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