Women In Bio-Pittsburgh hosted their highly anticipated P.O.W.E.R. (Pittsburgh’s Outstanding Women Entrepreneur Rally) event on September 18. This year’s theme was “Big Data Powers Innovation”, which provided a timely focus on how women of the Pittsburgh life science community use health-related data to create new technologies and treatments. The event was an excellent networking opportunity, as it was well-attended by both women and men from many life science sectors. Special guests included WIB National Executive Director Lisa Iadicicco, WIB National President and Board Chair Rachel Kopper, and several other representatives from WIB National. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald also made an appearance and declared September 18, 2019 Women In Bio P.O.W.E.R. Day!
Zariel Johnson answers a question from the audience during the speaker panel.
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P.O.W.E.R. featured three keynote speakers, who gave impressive talks about how their local companies are harnessing big data. The first speaker, Zariel Johnson, Ph.D., Program Manager at UPMC Enterprises, demonstrated how data can be used to improve healthcare, for example in intervention predictions and hospital efficiency. She explained the challenges of health data analysis, such as maintaining patient privacy and data security and using machine learning algorithms to produce clear results. In order to address these challenges, Dr. Johnson stressed that interdisciplinary teams are needed.
The second speaker, Anne Germain, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh who is currently focusing on her position as CEO of a sleep health start up called Noctem, LLC. In response to a high clinical demand for sleep specialists, Dr. Germain co-founded the company with a mission to create software that connects providers to patients living with sleep disorders. She discussed the challenges of using artificial intelligence (AI) and her hopes that, when enough sleep behavior data has been gathered, AI will be able to make recommendations that result in clinical improvements that are equal to standard therapy.
The third keynote speaker was Kathryn Fantauzzi, co-founder and CEO at Apollo Neuroscience, Inc. Apollo’s main product is a wearable wristband that tracks metrics such as heart rate variability and delivers feedback to the user in the form of vibrations, which have been shown to calm the body and improve cognitive performance. Ms. Fantauzzi explained Apollo’s innovative subscription service model designed to collect user data over long periods of time, which can then be used to create and optimize vibration parameters for cases of more severe anxiety. After the keynote talks, a speaker panel was moderated by Lynn Banaszak, executive director of Carnegie Mellon’s Disruptive Health Technology Institute, who led a lively discussion about how health data can be used effectively and how security and privacy can be preserved in data collection.
The evening came to an inspiring ending, with members from Young Women In Bio (YWIB) sharing their recent experiences. YWIB in Pittsburgh has garnered a lot of interest among high-school age young women and is providing opportunities for them to explore life sciences careers. WIB-Pittsburgh is fortunate to have a strong membership, with women representing a diverse array of careers who can act as mentors for YWIB!