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Our Team

John Brownstein, PhD, Chief Innovation Officer


John Brownstein, PhD, is the Chief Innovation Officer at BCH. He is a global leader in HCIT and, in particular, the emerging fields of informatics and big data analytics. He runs a 50-person multi-disciplinary team focused on digital innovations that span clinicians and consumers. His group is supported by a multi-million dollar budget including grants from NIH, USAID, DoD, IARPA, CDC, Google, Skoll and Gates Foundation. His work has pioneered ‘digital epidemiology’- utilizing diverse digital data sources to understand population health. His work is published in over a 150 peer-reviewed papers, all focused on new methods and applications in digital health. This work was recognized by the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

He also leads the development of several novel patient facing public health systems, including HealthMap, Vaccine Finder and MedWatcher. The systems are considered premier global public health tools in use by millions of patients each year and endorsed by numerous public health agencies including CDC, WHO, DHS, DOD, HHS, and EU, and has been recognized by the National Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. In addition to research achievements, this translational impact comes from playing an advisory role to numerous agencies on real-time public health surveillance including HHS, DHS, CDC, IOM, WHO and the White House.

Dr Brownstein is a successful entrepreneur having developed new technologies, started multiple companies and outlicensed technologies. John has extensive experience establishing industry/academic partnerships, including work with Google, Twitter and Uber. As a long time (11 years) BCH employee, he is familiar with BCH and the many talented doctors, nurses and scientists here who serve as the core of our innovation engine.

Jean Mixer, MBA, Vice President, Strategy and Digital Health

Jean Mixer, MBAEmail:

Jean Mixer is the VP Strategy and Digital Health. She brings 25+ years of experience across the health care industry in developing winning strategies, business development, and new business launch. She launched and ran her own company for 8 years. She was formerly a partner at the Boston Consulting Group, a leading strategy consulting firm where she worked for over a decade. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of a high-growth medical technology company.

In her 25 years of experience, she has worked across the restructuring health care value chain including working with leading academic medical centers, integrated health care delivery networks, payers, pharmaceuticals, pharmacy/PBMS and medical devices. She led the teams in e incubator and new business launch in both consumer retail and financial services. She developed the strategy and launch plans for two businesses which are now $1B in size.

She has a BS from Boston College and Master’s Degree in Management from the Kellogg School of Management.

Carla E. Small, MBA

Carla E. Small, MBA, is the Director of Innovation at Boston Children’s. She leads the Innovation Acceleration Program (IAP), which has worked to surface and support innovations enterprise-wide since its inception in 2010.

The IAP provides strategy, momentum and resources to Boston Children’s innovators in the form of seed grants (Innovestment Grants) for prototype and early stage product development; a dedicated team (FastTrack Innovation in Technology or FIT) providing rapid-cycle agile software development; mentoring; and programs and activities like educational forums and networking events.

Small brings more than 15 years of experience in business strategy, product management and innovation to the health care field. She has served as a consultant to medical device, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies through her own consulting firm and prior to that at Health Advances, a health care strategy consulting firm. Previously, she worked at a startup, Work/Family Directions, where she launched a series of nationwide groundbreaking work-family benefits. Small received her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and her MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Pedro Del Nido, MD

Del Nido MDPedro J. Del Nido, MD, is the clinical founder of the Innovation Acceleration Program and serves on the Innovestment Grant Governance Board and on the FastTrack Innovation in Technology (FIT) Board. Del Nido is currently the Chairman of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Boston Children’s and the William E. Ladd Professor of Child Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Previously, he served on the Surgical Faculties of the University of Illinois in Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh.

Del Nido is a pioneer in the development of robotic tools used during cardiac surgery. Through his research, he was awarded a United States patent for “Process for Preserving An Organ and Organ Preservation Solution" in April 1995.

Del Nido has published over 258 peer-reviewed articles in numerous medical journals. He has also served on many distinguished boards including Chair of the National Institutes of Health-National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH-NHLBI) Surgery-Bioengineering Study Section and Chair of the American Heart Association - National Affiliate Study Section C. Dr. Del Nido was named as one of the 100 most influential members of the Latino community by El Planeta newspaper for three consecutive years.

Del Nido has a BA in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and an MD from the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

Michael  Docktor, MD - Clinical Director of Innovation

Michael Docktor, MDMichael Docktor, MD, is the Clinical Director of the Innovation Acceleration Program. Docktor is a practicing gastroenterologist at Boston Children’s with a research and clinical interest in inflammatory bowel disease. He works to use technology and design thinking as a way to improve patient care and experience.

He serves as the Director of Clinical Mobile Solutions and has spearheaded efforts to bring technologies that can help clinicians work more productively and efficiently. Docktor is passionate about technology and the startup ecosystem both within and outside of health care. He co-founded and leads Hacking Pediatrics, a group whose mission is to bring together talented innovators from diverse areas of expertise such as medicine, technology and business to build solutions for children and their families through hackathons.

Michael holds an Honors BS in Biology from University of Wisconsin – Madison and an MD from New Jersey Medical School. He completed his pediatric residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and his gastroenterology fellowship at Boston Children’s . He can be followed on Twitter @MichaelDocktor.

Salim, Afshar, DMD, MD

Salim Afshar MD DMDAfshar, Clinician Advisor to the Innovation Acceleration Program, is passionate about design thinking and innovation. He has a background in the arts and engineering and worked as a surgical assistant and care coordinator after college, followed by medical and dental school at Harvard University. He completed his surgical residency within the Partners Healthcare System and brought human factor design and innovation into his surgical practice and work.

During the past 15 years, he has solved system and design challenges both large and small with solutions that were inspired by processes and systems found in nature (biomimicry) complemented with human factor design. He is passionate about the user and has played a key advisory role in the implementation and design of health care software systems and has designed several devices and implants in the medical technology space. In addition to being the founder of several companies including his current startup, ClinicalBox, he is also a surgeon at Boston Children's. Afshar is a mentor at the Harvard iLab and is actively involved with startups in an advisory role focusing on strategy, business development and design.

Gena Koufos, RN, MS, MBA

Gena Koufos is the Program Manager and a Clinical Advisor in the Innovation Acceleration Program at Boston Children’s. Leveraging her clinical experience and business background, Koufos is designing new programs to support innovation acceleration across the institution. She offers resources and strategic guidance to cultivate and advance early stage innovators through product development and care delivery projects, and she is a key collaborator in the evaluation and exploration of potential entrepreneurial external innovation opportunities.

Koufos has more than 10 years of experience working throughout the health care sector. Early in her career she was a patient care nurse at Boston Children’s. She later joined a consulting firm where she provided strategic guidance to numerous hospitals and hospital leadership, conducting program assessments, mock regulatory audits and preparedness exercises.

Koufos is a Registered Nurse and holds a BSN and MS from Boston College. She completed her MBA at Babson College, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Nitin Gujral, BS

Nitin Gujral is a Principal Software Architect with Boston Children's Information Services Department and the FastTrack Innovation in Technology (FIT) Program within the Innovation Acceleration Program. With over 15 years of experience and a passion for information and digital technology, he has been involved in optimizing real-world enterprise business processes and using innovative ways to solve problems. As a certified Enterprise Architect, he led the architecture and technical design of various clinical systems and innovation projects over the last six years at Boston Children's. Gujral has extensive expertise in enterprise software architecture and technologies across a breadth of technology platforms and stacks, as well as experience in business domains of health care, insurance and finance.

Gujral has a BS in Electronics and Electrical Communication from Punjab University (India) and is pursuing an MBA at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, specializing in Leadership and Organizational Change. Combining his technical experience with business knowledge, he aims to collaborate with others in finding optimal ways for delivering technology solutions to real-world challenges. He can be followed on Twitter at @NitinGujral.

Soleh Al Ayubi, PhD

Soleh Al Ayubi, PhDSoleh Al Ayubi is an Application Development Specialist for the Innovation Acceleration Program at Boston Children’s l. Ayubi is an exceptionally skilled programmer, highly passionate human-computer interaction scientist, and interdisciplinary healthIT researcher. He has more than eight years’ experience designing, developing, implementing and evaluating information technology solutions for various business needs.

He has direct experience in user-centered design, Web 2.0 development, mobile apps development (Android and OIS), usability evaluation, social networking and pervasive computing. He also has experience in several settings of health-related research, including autism assessment, healthy life promotion in teenagers, remote cognitive rehabilitation, as well as physical activity promotions in healthy general populations, fire fighters and wheelchair users with spinal cord injury.

Prior to joining Boston Children’s, he worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System and several Indonesian National Companies and Agencies.

He has BS and MS in Computer Science from the Bandung Institute of Technology (Indonesia) and a PhD in Health Information Management from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), American Telemedicine Association (ATA), American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Ayubi can be followed on twitter at @SolehAyubi.

Vandna Mittal, MPH

Mittal is the Product Manager for the FastTrack Innovation in Technology team within the Innovation Acceleration Program. She has in-depth experience in introducing new technology products in the health care space. She has over eight years of experience successfully working with clinicians and implementing health care programs utilizing innovative technologies–virtual health avatars and mobile technologies.

Prior to joining Boston Children’s, Mittal worked at Engineered Care, a health technology startup in San Francisco, where she played a leading role in taking academic research technology from pilot to commercialization. While at the startup, Mittal consulted with state governments to help prepare for the Affordable Care Act changes. Prior to this, Mittal won “Best Social Media Campaign 2010” by the National Public Health Information Coalition for a text-messaging program implemented at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Previously, Mittal was an Analyst at Applied Strategies, a global health management consulting company working closely with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mittal has taught Economics and Business Communications at Ngee Ann Polytechnic through a Princeton in Asia fellowship. She holds an MPH in Health Policy and Management from Boston University, a BA in Economics as a President’s Leadership Class Scholar from University of Colorado at Boulder, and a certificate in Health Informatics from Duke University. Mittal can be followed on twitter @vandnamittal

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