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2014 Program Participants

Tom Ashbrook

Special Guest Moderator

Tom Ashbrook is an award-winning journalist brought to public radio by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he was enlisted by NPR and WBUR for special coverage, after a distinguished career in newspaper reporting and editing. He now hosts WBUR’s On Point, distributed nationally by NPR.

Tom Ashbrook:

Jack Andraka

Guest Speaker

High school sophomore Jack Andraka is the developer of an early diagnostic test for pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer and 2012 recipient of Gordon E. Moore Award, the grand prize of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Jack Andraka:

Alan H. Beggs, PhD

Panelist: Rare Diseases

Dr. Beggs is the Director of the Manton Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is an authority on the genetic underpinnings of congenital myopathies, a group of little-understood, inherited neuromuscular disorders that cause generalized muscle weakness and progressively disabling symptoms.

John Brownstein, PhD

Panelist: Predictive Analytics & Big Data

Dr. John Brownstein was trained as an epidemiologist at Yale University where he received his PhD. His research interests are in the development of methods and data sources in public health informatics which focuses on two major areas: (1) the design, evaluation and implementation of public health surveillance systems and (2) statistical modeling of public health surveillance data to improve prevention and control activities.

John Brownstein:

Kevin Churchwell, MD

Guest Speaker

Dr. Kevin Churchwell is Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Health Affairs for Boston Children’s Hospital. Churchwell previously served as the CEO of Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del. Churchwell has strong ties to the Boston area, graduating with an undergraduate degree from MIT and completing his residency at Boston Children’s, in addition to serving as an attending physician there for two years. Churchwell has a medical degree from Vanderbilt University. He previously served as CEO of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

Bob Davis, MBA

Panelist: Innovation Tank

Bob Davis is a General Partner at Highland Capital Partners focusing primarily on digital media. He currently represents Highland with ALOHA, Dailybreak, Gemvara, Harry's, NameMedia, OpenSky, Oyster Books, Handybook and SessionM. Bob previously served on the boards of Bullhorn (acquired by Vista Equity Partners), Fastclick (Nasdaq: FSTC), Going (acquired by AOL), Navic (acquired by MSFT), Pixable (acquired by SingTel), Quattro (acquired by Apple), Quigo (acquired by AOL) and Turbine (acquired by Warner Bros.)

Bob Davis:

Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel, MD, PhD

Keynote Speaker

Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, is the former health advisor to President Barack Obama and current Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Sandra L. Fenwick

Panelist: CEO: Top Opportunities and Challenges

As President and CEO of Boston Children's Hospital, Sandra L. Fenwick leads Boston Children's in advancing pediatric health care throughout the region and around the world, working to improve access to safe, quality care for all, and supporting the research and innovative partnerships required to lead the way in creating the future of care.  

Naomi Fried, PhD

Special Guest Speaker; Moderator: Innovation Acceleration Panel

Naomi Fried is Boston Children's Hospital's first Chief Innovation Officer where she has built and is leading the Innovation Acceleration Program.  Prior to Boston Children's, Naomi was Vice President for Innovation and Advanced Technology at Kaiser Permanente.

Naomi Fried:

William A. Gahl, MD

Panelist: Rare Diseases

Dr. William A. Gahl earned his B.S. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 and his M.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1976. He obtained a Ph.D. degree in oncology research from Wisconsin’s McArdle Laboratories for Cancer Research in 1981 and served as pediatric resident and chief resident at the University of Wisconsin hospitals from 1976-80. In 1984, he completed Clinical Genetics and Clinical Biochemical Genetics fellowships.

Bill Geary

Panelist: Innovation Acceleration

Bill focuses on investments in healthcare technology for Foundation Medical Partners. He is passionate about guiding entrepreneurs to repeated successes. Prior to joining FMP, Bill was a partner at North Bridge Venture Partners, a leading early-stage venture capital and growth equity investment firm with more than $3 billion under management, since its inception in 1994. At North Bridge, he focused primarily on health technology and software investments. Please visit for more information about Foundation Medical Partners and reach Bill by email at

Bill Geary:

Marlene E. Haffner, MD

Panelist: Rare Diseases

For over 30 years, Dr Marlene Haffner has had an immeasurable impact upon the development of orphan drug therapies. She has dedicated most of her professional life to facilitating the development of therapies for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of rare diseases. Dr Haffner worked as the Director of the Office of Orphan Products Development at the United States of America Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over twenty years. In this role she was responsible for the administration of the USOrphan Drug Act, the first act of this type in the world.

Sachin Jain, MD, MBA

Panelist: Predictive Analytics & Big Data

Dedicated to harnessing the power of data, technology, medical science and collaboration to improve patient health, Sachin Jain, MD, MBA, is chief medical information and innovation officer (CMIIO) at Merck. His charge includes developing strategies and global partnerships to leverage health data to improve patient health.

Sachin Jain:

Daymond John

Moderator: Innovation Tank

Entrepreneur Daymond John, founder of the sportswear brand FUBU, is also an author, consultant, motivational speaker and television personality on ABC’s critically acclaimed reality business show Shark Tank.

Daymond John:

Taha Kass-Hout, MD

Panelist: Predictive Analytics & Big Data

In 2012, Kass-Hout co-chaired the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Biosurveillance sub-committee dealing with “detecting disease and threat aberrations from the norm.” He is credited with launching the first DHHS program completely operational in the Internet cloud (2010), in alignment with the White House Cloud Initiative resulting in significant savings in overhead costs (>95% of the original investment) to CDC and state and local health jurisdictions and governments. In turn, and since 2011, these savings continue to support creation of additional jobs at all levels of the government for increased public health disease surveillance, situation awareness and response.

Taha Kass-Hout:

Scott Kirsner

Moderator: Mobile & Digital Health

Scott Kirsner is a journalist who writes about innovation and entrepreneurship. His “Innovation Economy” column appears Sundays in the Boston Globe, and he also writes a companion blog at Scott has been a regular contributor to Fast Company, BusinessWeek, Variety, and Wired. Scott’s writing has also appeared in the New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and Newsweek, among other publications.

Scott Kirsner:

Joseph C. Kvedar, MD

Panelist: Mobile & Digital Health

Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, is creating a new model of healthcare delivery, developing innovative strategies to move care from the hospital or doctor’s office into the day-to-day lives of patients.

Joseph Kvedar:

Jinfen Liu, MD

Panelist: CEOs: Top Opportunities and Challenges

He is the president of Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and professor of Pediatric Cardio-thoracic Surgery. Graduated from Shanghai Second Medical University, department of medicine in 1975. Got his clinical training in Boston Children’s Hospital, department of cardiothoracic surgery from 1994 to 1995, London Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Israel Schneider Children’s Medical Center, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery as visiting fellow. He plays an important role in the department of pediatric cardio-thoracic surgery.

David Meeker, MD

Moderator: Rare Diseases

David Meeker was appointed CEO of Genzyme in October 2011. In his career with Genzyme, he has held key positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as Chief Operating Officer. In this role, he was responsible for Genzyme’s commercial organization, overseeing its business units, country management organization, and global market access functions. As Chief Operating Officer, he played an important role in the integration with Sanofi.

Nicholas Negroponte

Panelist: Mobile & Digital Health

Nicholas Negroponte is the co-founder (with Jerome B. Wiesner) of the MIT Media Lab (1985), which he directed for its first 20 years. A graduate of MIT, Negroponte was a pioneer in the field of computer-aided design and has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1966. He gave the first TED talk in 1984, as well as 13 since. He is author of the 1995 best seller, Being Digital, which has been translated into more than 40 languages. In 2005 he founded the non-profit One Laptop per Child, which deployed $1 billion of laptops for primary education in the developing world.

Nicholas Negroponte:

Daniel Nigrin, MD, MS

Panelist: Mobile & Digital Health

Daniel Nigrin is the Senior VP of Information Services and Chief Information Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital. His research interests include development of web-based patient- provider communication systems, especially for patients with chronic diseases like diabetes mellitus, and development and implementation of large-scale electronic medical record systems, including implementation of medication error reduction techniques through use of technology. Dr. Nigrin also has significant experience in creation of easy to use tools to facilitate data mining of large clinical databases, for both research and clinical care purposes.

Peter Saltonstall

Panelist: Rare Diseases

Peter L. Saltonstall is the President and CEO of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). He joined NORD in 2008 after having served for more than 30 years as a senior official in both for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare environments.

Peter Saltonstall:

Ido Schoenberg, MD

Panelist: Mobile & Digital Health

Ido serves as the Chairman and CEO of American Well Corporation and oversees the company's corporate strategy. Ido has a lengthy track record of successfully leading technology companies in the healthcare field.

Ido Schoenberg:

Jim Shmerling

Panelist: CEOs Top Opportunities and Challenges

Jim Shmerling, Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital Colorado since January 2007, has more than three decades of leadership experience in children’s hospitals.  His most recent position was as the Chief Executive Officer of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Shmerling serves as Chairman of the Board of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Children’s Hospital Association and is a Board member of the Children’s Hospital Group in Ireland.

Bill Taylor

Keynote Speaker

William (Bill) C. Taylor is an agenda-setting writer, speaker and entrepreneur who has shaped the global conversation about the best ways to compete, innovate and succeed.  He is the co-founder and founding editor of Fast Company, named the "Magazine of the Year".

Bill Taylor:

Henry Wei, MD

Panelist: Innovation Acceleration

Henry Wei, MD is the Aetna Innovation Labs’ Senior Medical Director for Clinical Innovation. Dr. Wei recently served with the White House as an inaugural Presidential Innovation Fellow. Henry is a faculty member in Internal Medicine at Cornell (Weill Medical College). Prior to his role at Aetna, Henry served as Sr. Medical Director for Clinical R&D at ActiveHealth Management. He has worked as a consultant in the healthcare practice of McKinsey & Company.

Henry Wei:

Mark Wietecha

Moderator: CEOs Top Opportunities and Challenges

Mark is president and CEO of Children's Hospital Association, representing over 220 hospital organizations and pediatric programs dedicated to improving child health through innovation in care, education and research.

Robin Young

Special Guest Host

Robin Young brings more than 25 years of broadcast experience to her role as co-host of WBUR’s Here & Now. She is a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker who has also reported for NBC, CBS, and ABC television and for several years was substitute host and correspondent for “The Today Show.”

Robin Young:

Bruce Zetter, PhD

Master of Ceremonies

Bruce Zetter, PhD, is senior scientist of the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children's Hospital, and Charles Nowiszewski Professor of Cancer Biology at Harvard Medical School.  

Leonard Zon, MD

Panelist: Innovation Tank

Leonard Zon, MD, is the founder and director of the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and a pioneer in the use of zebrafish as a platform for drug discovery.