Our Outlook for 2020

2019 was an exciting year for the PHDA. We teamed up with Amazon Web Services to accelerate research across eight projects and watched as other projects gained momentum and success in their respective fields. Now, we are looking forward to what 2020 has in store for the PHDA. We had the chance to sit down with PHDA leadership to learn about what they are looking forward to most.

Michael J. Becich, MD PhD
Chairman of the Department of Biomedical Informatics and Co-Director, CCA, University of Pittsburgh

The PHDA is entering an exciting year with the recruitment of Anantha Shekhar, MD PhD, as the new Dean of the School of Medicine and Senior Vice-Chancellor for the Health Sciences. A seasoned translationalist, Dr. Shekhar led the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute as well as the Precision Health Initiatives at Indiana University and will bring his considerable expertise to bear on commercial translation goals of Pitt and UPMC in partnership with UPMC Enterprises. Dr. Shekhar was co-founder or leader in five biotech companies, including Anagin, a startup company that is developing treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, neuropathic pain, depression, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. This is indeed an exciting time for the Pittsburgh region that PHDA will dramatically enable in partnership with Dr. Shekhar.

Nicole Flynn bio photoNicole Flynn
Project Services Manager, CMLH, Carnegie Mellon University

 In 2020, I look forward to continuing and forging new collaborations with faculty, clinical experts, students, and staff from CMU, Pitt, UPMC, and UPMC Enterprises. Each year brings new light and perspective with constant learning from our past. At CMLH, we continue to strive for creative opportunities and solutions to enrich our scientific thinking through the PHDA partnership while remembering Andrew Carnegie’s famous words, “My heart is in the work.”

Don Taylor bio photoDonald P. Taylor, PhD, MBA, CLP
Co-Director, CCA, University of Pittsburgh

I look forward to furthering academic diversity and engaging more faculty in solving big problems in healthcare through the PHDA. At the Pitt center, PHDA project teams span 10 schools and over 70 departments, and many of the project faculty are first-time academic entrepreneurs. This brings fresh thinking into tackling some of the most pressing healthcare challenges, from resolving indeterminate diagnoses to addressing social determinants of health. These complex problems in healthcare will be solved by working purposefully and collaboratively across academic disciplines while taking calculated risks in funding problem-focused translational research.

Zariel Johnson bio photoZariel Johnson, PhD
Program Manager, UPMC Enterprises

I’m looking forward to great things for the PHDA in 2020! We are fortunate to be in a position of accelerating digital health innovation at a very exciting time – analytical methods are continually improving, data is being generated at a phenomenal rate, and examples data-driven solutions in clinical care can be used to demonstrate improved patient outcomes and cost savings. The three organizations comprising the PHDA continue to foster world-class talent and promote collaborative, need-driven investigations that can spur the development of novel solutions that meet meaningful healthcare needs. I hope that in 2020 we continue to engage with cross-disciplinary teams that are ready and excited to take on the challenging, yet rewarding, process of conceptualizing and developing digital health solutions!

Joe Marks bio photoJoe Marks, PhD
Executive Director, CMLH, Carnegie Mellon University

I look forward to more of the same! More great projects, more great startups, and more sponsors for the PHDA. Compared to where we were 12 months ago, we have made huge progress. A year from now I’d like to be able to make the same observation!


Andrew Brown bio photoAndrew Brown, PhD
Assistant Director of Commercial Translation Programs, sciVelo, University of Pittsburgh

 I am excited for launching our 10th CCA funding cycle in 2020! Every cycle I’m amazed that we continue to work with new investigators from new departments who are tackling unmet clinical needs that we’ve not explored through the PHDA. As Pitt and Carnegie Mellon’s research enterprises continue to grow in 2020, the CCA and CMLH will continue to uncover new technologies and develop new collaborations to improve healthcare in the 2020s.