Congratulations to our November 2017 Disruptive Women in Health Care Man of the Month: Peter L. Levin

Hear Peter Levin’s most recent TEDxWilmington Talk. You are in for a treat.

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December 2016 Disruptive Women in Health Care Man of the Month – Connor Landgraf


Universities everywhere would do well to utilize Disruptive Women’s December Man of the Month Connor Landgraf in marketing campaigns, making the point that a single moment in a classroom can change the world.  Landgraf, at age 26, is the co-founder and CEO of Eko Devices, a start-up he created with two fellow graduates of the University of California, Berkeley.  Eko’s first product, the Eko Core, was named by TIME Magazine as one of 2015’s top inventions and he and his colleagues were selected by Forbes for its “30 Under 30” list of the brightest young stars in 15 different fields of endeavor.

For Landgraf, then a biomedical engineering major at Berkeley, this success began in a senior design class featuring guest speakers sharing perspectives on medical technology.  A discussion about the limited utility of the stethoscope and the difficulty of using heart sounds to detect cardiac abnormalities inspired Landgraf to bring 21st century digital capabilities to a health care tool that has remained largely unchanged since the early 1800s. (more…)

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November 2016 Man of the Month: Peter L. Levin

Peter L. Levin

Peter L. Levin

There’s an old saying that says information is power.  Peter L. Levin, founder and CEO of Amida Technology Solutions and Disruptive Woman’s November Man of the Month, has done that phrase one better, advocating the idea of “Data to the People.”

As millions of Americans know firsthand, Levin’s actions have more than matched his words.  For years, health data was stored in closed proprietary systems and made inaccessible to patients.  An individual with a serious health condition couldn’t present their health records to a new doctor because they were kept out of reach.

Blue Button changed this situation for the better.  As Chief Technology Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Levin was instrumental in modernizing the VA’s health records system and creating Blue Button, an easy-to-use online mechanism that enabled veterans to gain immediate access to their health data.  This system has since expanded to Medicare beneficiaries and private health insurance clients, making it the most widely-used personal health records program in the country.

Today, Levin has both a position from which to continue bringing about change and an important cause to pursue.  The position is at Amida, a firm that has built a library of Blue Button and health informatics components that can make a significant difference in linking patients and consumers with their healthcare data being held in multiple repositories.  Through Amida’s systems, data in the possession of health insurers, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, population health management firms, and employers can be consolidated, aggregated and made available to consumers for downloading and sharing.

Levin has said he believes his work is far from done and he is continuing to pursue an environment in which individuals can gain possession of their health care information just as easily as they can their financial records.   He is, in essence, calling for a new American revolution, this one focused on data.

November’s Man of the Month is making a difference improving health and lives by fully understanding that information is indeed power and using his voice and his considerable skills to ensure that data belongs to the people.

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October 2016 Man of the Month: Sen. Joe Biden

Sen. Joe BidenPhotographs by Martin Schoeller

Sen. Joe Biden
Photographs by Martin Schoeller

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September 2016 Man of the Month: George Vradenburg

George Vradenburg, Chairman and Founding Board Member,  UsAgainstAlzheimer’s

Chairman and Founding Board Member, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s

Compared to other illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease is a particularly vicious and relentless enemy.  For more than five million Alzheimer’s sufferers and the millions more who provide care for them, the disease is an experience in daily heartbreak and gradual, painful loss. To combat such a foe, our Disruptive Women in Health Care Man of the Month, George Vradenburg, embarked on a form of medical guerilla warfare – and he’s getting results.

Vradenburg and his wife Trish are co-founders of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, a group that has broken with conventional health advocacy traditions, applying heightened pressure on political and business leaders to provide more resources for Alzheimer’s research, development of new therapies, and support for caregivers.

It’s a personal mission.  He watched his mother-in-law become a victim of the disease, slowly losing her sense of self in the Alzheimer’s spiral that has afflicted so many, eventually losing the ability to recognize family members and requiring round-the-clock care.  The experience helped harden his belief, as he wrote on the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s website, that a disease so cruel deserves a “brutal response.”

For years, the Vradenburgs co-chaired the National Alzheimer’s Gala, a black-tie event that raised significant dollars for research.  They decided, though, as Vradenburg told the Washington Post, that hosting a gala dinner simply wasn’t enough and “we really had a sense of urgency about what we wanted to see happen.”  That sense of urgency drove them to push for a significantly accelerated timeline to achieve a world without Alzheimer’s disease. (more…)

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August 2016 Man of the Month: Dr. Rich Mahogany

Dr. Rich Mahogany

Dr. Rich Mahogany

Congratulations to Dr. Rich Mahogany, the hardest working therapist in the world. Over the last four years, Dr. Mahogany has seen more than 650,000 patients, conducted 88,000 head inspections and connected men and their loved ones to a broad range of resources to help take charge of their mental health.

Across borders and spanning languages throughout the world, working-age men share an unfortunate commonality—they avoid seeking help for mental issues, and, as a result, they also share an unfortunate common fate, as four out of every five suicides come from this demographic.

Using a combination of manly humor and a disarmingly blunt approach to these otherwise taboo subjects within the male subculture, Man Therapy successfully engages our audience and builds their trust, while simultaneously removing barriers between men and their need to address their mental health issues. (more…)

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June Man of the Month: Marc Sommers, PhD

Robin Strongin

As a child, Marc loved looking at National Geographic magazines, especially at his Uncle’s home on New Year’s Day. That’s where young Marc went with his family to celebrate.  Not much for the adult conversation upstairs, Marc would slip away to the basement and lose himself in exotic photos of far-away places.  At 12, he decided he was going to go to the Serengeti.

marc sommers-head shot (2)Not only did he get there, but he has dedicated much of his adult life to working with young people, primarily in Africa—19 countries and counting.  Marc Sommers, who is fluent in Swahili, is an internationally recognized youth, conflict, education, gender, and development expert, an experienced evaluator, and an award-winning author. He has provided technical advice and policy analysis, and conducted research, assessments and evaluations in 21 war-affected countries.

Marc’s first position in Africa was as Headmaster of a girls’ high school in Kenya, at the ripe old age of 23. That experience was his initiation into gender issues—he had to, as he explained to me, “Defend my students.” (more…)

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MusiCorps: Helping Wounded Warriors Play Music and Recover Their Lives

Ibloomn 2007 Arthur Bloom was invited to visit a soldier recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The soldier, a drummer who had lost his leg to a roadside bomb, was concerned about whether he would ever be able to play the drums again.

Bloom, a Juilliard- and Yale-trained composer and pianist, didn’t have any previous experience with wounded service members. However, during this initial visit to Walter Reed Bloom promised to do whatever it took to help the soldier play again.

Stepping back from the situation, Bloom recognized that the need was great, with Walter Reed overflowing with injured service members. He also saw that the injured had very little to do at Walter Reed outside of their medical appointments during recoveries that could last for years. Bloom quickly realized how he might assist with the growing crisis of thousands of severely wounded service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. (more…)

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April Man of the Month: Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison III

VADM Faison - photo - as of 31 DEC 2015Throughout the nation’s health care continuum, policymakers and clinicians are searching for ways to eliminate health disparities, improve cost-efficiencies, and achieve better patient outcomes. An organization making important strides in this area is the U.S. military, and a particular leader who warrants our attention is Disruptive Women in Health Care’s Man of the Month, Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

A pediatrician by training, Faison is experienced in providing high-quality, patient-centered care to large, geographically dispersed populations. As commander, Navy Medicine West and Naval Medical Center San Diego, he was responsible for a staff of 16,000 delivering medical care to 850,000 beneficiaries from the California cost to the Indian Ocean.

In 2006, he was the commanding officer of the U.S. Expeditionary Medical Facility in Kuwait, responsible for all Department of Defense health care delivery in Kuwait, Qatar and southern Iraq. (more…)

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March Man of the Month: Congressman John Dingell

john dingell 2It’s impossible to paint the full picture of retired Congressman John Dingell’s career achievements – an anthology of feats that distinguished his record 59-year career in the House of Representatives and paved the way for numerous accolades and recognition.

But here’s a snapshot.

Since he was elected into office in 1955, taking over his father’s Michigan district seat, Congressman Dingell was one of our nation’s fiercest advocates for medical progress. He served alongside 11 Presidents, always focused on the effort that health care is a right, not a privilege. He fought for the elderly and universal coverage. He was at the center of the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

And for those reasons, and many others, we are honored to name Congressman Dingell the Disruptive Women in Health Care March Man of the Month, which coincides with today’s Aging Audaciously series event at the Library of Congress: Prevention Wisdom Kicked Up A Notch. The event will feature remarks from Congressman Dingell’s wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who succeeded Mr. Dingell by winning the election for his seat in November 2014. (more…)

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February Man of the Month: Dan Miller

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we are proud to announce our February Man of the Month…Dan Miller. There is no greater gift of love than saving a life. Happy Valentine’s Day!

dan feb man of month

On the topic of organ donation, Dan Miller had a consistent message: “Do the research.”

For Dan, a healthy, 20-year-old junior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., this meant seeking out the evidence needed to justify the life-changing decision of whether to donate a kidney to someone he’d never met.

Dan talked to his sister, Lauren Miller, who had successfully undergone the same procedure in December 2014 and had already overcome the judgement of skeptics, challenging her decision.

Dan read the statistics about how each year nearly 5,000 people die after being left on an 100,000-plus long waiting list for a kidney transplant. He visited specialists to determine if he had the physical, emotional and mental capacity to withstand the risks of living with one kidney. (more…)

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Disruptive Women Heads to the White House Tomorrow

Robin Strongin

For Throwback Thursday we go back to our visit to the White House. This post was originally published January 7, 2016. 

How perfect is this? Eight years after Disruptive Women launched, we were invited by HHS to collaborate on an important White House event.  We have been hard at work getting ready for the big day.  After all, it’s the White House Men’s Health Dialogue.

DW-Men's-Health-FB-Meme-01That’s right, men’s health.  Kudos to HHS and the White House for not only recognizing and focusing on the many health-related challenges men face, but extra props for recognizing the power of women to provide expertise, solutions, and insights.  And, a big shout out to our other collaborator, the team from the Men’s Health Network.

Disruptive Women has been immersed in many of the event’s topics: mental health, innovation, technology, community programs, engaged patients, and access to data.  And, the event provides a platform for us to brag about some of our past and future Men of the Month, all of whom will be sharing their wisdom: Ramin Bastani, e-patient Dave, Chef Bill and Jason Bellet. (more…)

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December Man of the Month: David Shaywitz, MD, PhD

d shaywitzDavid Shaywitz is a man of many talents.  He serves as Chief Medical Officer for DNAnexus; writes for Forbes and other publications; is a visiting scientist at Harvard Medical School in the area of biomedical informatics and is also involved in the Center for Assessment Technology and Continuous Health (CATCH), and, of course, he hosts the Tech Tonics podcast with me, Lisa Suennen.  I’m so delighted to help feature David as the Man of the Month and to offer this interview, which shows the many different sides of this brilliant and loving man.

How do you define yourself?

I don’t really define myself through any one role.  Rather, I see myself as combining two very different impulses.  On the one hand I’m an integrative thinker seeking to get the 30,000 foot view of the world and identify the key trends; essentially I see this as pulling the “so what” out of different experiences.  On the other hand, I really don’t live entirely in the world of the mind.  I love the operational execution and implementation of ideas and especially the incredibly exciting and messy process of going from initial idea to real world impact. (more…)

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November Man of the Month: Pablo Graiver

Pablo Graiver

Photo credit: Edu Ferrer

Pablo is the CEO and co-founder of TrialReach, a health tech startup focused on matching patients to clinical trials.

You’ve spent your career in the startup world, and seem to be committed to life as an entrepreneur. What does that say about you?

To want to start from the ground up and create something new, you have to be a little bit fearless. More importantly, you need to have an incredible amount of resilience. Anybody can have an idea but it takes resilience to drive that idea into something that can grow and to navigate all sorts of complications.

You started TrialReach after helping to get Kayak off the ground in Europe. Do you find a lot of similarities between travel searching and trial searching? (more…)

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October Man of the Month: Ryan Weimer

October’s Man of the Month is Ryan Weimer one of the Founders of Magic Wheelchairs. Because of him kids in wheelchairs can still have awesome Halloween costumes. Magic Wheelchair’s mission is to give kids in wheelchairs an unforgettable Halloween by creating custom costumes for them at no expense to their families.  After watching this short video you will see why we’ve named him October’s Man of the Month. Happy Halloween!

wheelchair 2

wheelchair 1

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