Catalyst Fellowship Spring 2021

Spring 2021 Innovation Priorities

Catalyst brings together innovators and researchers with diverse backgrounds to work in teams to identify unmet medical needs, brainstorm and evaluate potential solutions and plan research project proposals. The program starts with a dive into several priority areas for potential innovation as a way to stimulate thinking and identify unmet needs. At the end of the initial six month experience, projects with demonstrated potential for impact establish longer-term efforts and initiate research programs to realize impactful solutions. Learn more about the Catalyst process

We seek scientists, engineers, and clinicians from any field interested in tackling medical challenges within the following Innovation Priorities, in a program designed to accelerate impact.

Catalyst partners
Catalyst Champion

Catalyst advantages


Focused on real-world medical innovation opportunities


Collaboration across medicine, technology, and business


linQ Innovation Method accelerates impact

Experience highlights


New project discovery with high potential to achieve health impact and without the constraints of a single lab organization.


Process driven by you in a multi-disciplinary team based environment. Past teams have established new lines of research, launched start-ups, and embarked on new career trajectories.


Mentored by a unique network of leading experts in their field from academic research and industry that shortens the time to realize meaningful healthcare outcomes.


A proven MIT linQ Innovation Method that focuses on real-world medical innovation opportunities and accelerates impact.

In their own words

Catalyst Fellows Lola Baird and Ravi Rasalingam describe the Catalyst experience.

Also: See Fellows describe their experience in the Information Sessions

“Before Catalyst I knew how to develop technology. Now I know the steps needed to have impact.”

Germán González Serrano, PhD, 2011 cohort Fellow
See the Fellows’ projects

“Before Catalyst I knew how to develop technology. Now I know the steps needed to have impact.”

Germán González Serrano, PhD, 2011 cohort Fellow
See the Fellows’ projects

The first six months


Proof of Need

Proof of Need: Identify and evaluate relevant unmet medical needs by visiting laboratories, talking with clinicians, and exploring the literature.


Proof of Opportunity

Proof of Opportunity: Identify and evaluate a set of possible solutions. Meet with key stakeholders to assess their potential of solving the unmet need.


Project Proposal

Project Proposal: Develop a research project plan  with milestones over a 12-18 month time frame.



Outcome: Portfolio of validated research projects for ongoing mentorship, with real opportunity to transition to the project execution phase, project execution—exploration of funding and commercialization opportunities. Learn more about the Catalyst process

Who should join

Catalyst is open to those with interest and willingness to spend time in research, innovation, and health and who live or work near one of the 2021 Hubs—Boston, Memphis, and Salt Lake City.

We seek a multi-talented cohort, including:

  • Early stage professionals, postdocs, fellows, graduate students, clinical, and other professional degree candidates, etc.
  • VA- and non-VA-affiliated engineers, scientists, clinicians, designers, entrepreneurs, MBAs, etc.

Participants join as individuals to form teams and identify new lines of research, rather than working to advance their existing research projects.

There is no need to know anything about the innovation priorities. In fact, individuals working in teams sometimes have to forget what they think they know about a problem to better understand another’s perspective and learn even more about the nature of a problem.

Applicants don’t need to know a lot about innovation in biomedical research either. Faculty serving as mentors will help guide you through the Catalyst process, which involves cycles of convergent and divergent thinking, trial and error, iteration, progress, reassessment, creativity, critical thinking, and more iteration.... Seldom a linear path, it is always an exciting one for those who are ready for a journey from insight to impact. You and your teammates decide which projects to move forward.

Several slots are reserved for clinicians from the Veterans Healthcare Administration sites in Boston, Memphis, and Salt Lake City.

A limited number of funded slots are available. Accepted candidates may inquire further.

Other Catalyst roles

Catalyst depends on input and participation from a wide range of individuals, and for various roles. Roles include (but aren’t limited to): serving as a subject matter expert, reviewing interim work by Fellows, professional development advising, teaching workshops, making connections, allowing shadowing experiences, access to labs or data, longitudinal mentoring, and curriculum development. If you're interested in participating in Catalyst, please complete the short survey linked below.

Catalyst participation survey

Program details

  • Sessions will be held 10am – 1pm (EST),
    Monday, January 4 through June 28, 2021
  • First Session: 10am – 1pm (EST),
    Monday, January 4, 2021

Intensifications will be held in-person (assuming COVID related travel restrictions are not prohibitive):

  • Intensification I (Boston), January 12-14, 2021.
    Theme: Need generation/validation
  • Intensification II (Salt Lake City), March 9-11, 2021.
    Theme: Solution Generation
  • Intensification III (Memphis), May 11-13, 2021.
    Theme: Plan Generation

Workload: 20% dedication. Full time during the 3 Intensifications.


    Want to learn more? We have detailed answers to frequently asked questions.

    Read the FAQs

    Want to know more about the VA–MIT partnership in Catalyst and what it means for VA providers?

    Learn more about the VA–MIT partnership

    Still more questions? Email us at

    Applications are closed

    • Friday, August 14
      LIVE Information Session Webinar, 10am-11am EDT 
    • Tuesday, August 25
      LIVE Information Session Webinar, 4pm-5pm EDT (will be recorded)
      Watch the session recording
    • Tuesday, September 1
      Application deadline, 11:59pm MDT
    • Week of September 14
      Interview invitations to be sent
    • Wednesday, September 23
      Interviews, 10am-4pm (EDT)
    • Week of October 1
      Fellows’ acceptances announcement
    • Friday, October 2 – Wednesday, October 14
      Fellows garner supervisor support and respond to Catalyst offer
    • Wednesday, October 14
      Deadline to respond to Catalyst acceptance offer
    • Week of November 9
      Catalyst Fellows Onboarding Materials to be sent
    • Monday, January 4, 2021
      First Catalyst Session, 10am-1pm (EST)

    About the application

    Documents and information you will need to submit in the Application Form include:

    1. Curriculum Vitae (required)
    2. Reference letters (recommended)
    3. Reference contacts (required)
    4. Application questions (previewed below)

    Application questions

    The objective of these questions is to know more about you and your experiences. Remember that Catalyst will guide and train you to identify and validate unmet needs, define solutions, and design new research projects with high translational potential during the program. You are not applying with an existing project to the Catalyst program;  you are applying as a talented and passionate individual with valuable skills to make an impact in healthcare.

    Please list your core competencies, including domains of expertise and experience (75 word max)

    Help us understand your CV in context. Tell us about one or two of your non-classroom, professional or research experiences—describe your role in understanding challenges, applying learnings, and influencing outcomes. (150 word max)

    Logical reasoning skills are foundational to the Catalyst process. Please tell us about a past research or professional experience where the application of logical reasoning skills were critical.

    Please tell us why you are interested in being a Fellow in the Catalyst 2021 Program (75 word max).

    What else should we know about you? (Optional)

    Catalyst projects

    Catalyst projects involve Fellows and their international teams of collaborators. They focus on identifying unmet medical needs that can be addressed by new biomedical technologies. Successful Catalyst projects demonstrate a real potential for healthcare impact.

    Spring 2021 Fellows

    Tracy Bruen

    Tracy Bruen, DCN, RD

    Clinical Assistant Professor / Director MS Clinical Nutrition and Dietetic Internship University of Memphis

    Victor Ekuta

    Victor Ekuta, BA

    Biological Engineering Instructor, MIT Office of Engineering Outreach Programs

    Rey Johnson

    Rey Johnson

    Software Engineer, 3M Health Information Systems

    Lars Lofgren

    Lars Lofgren

    Graduate Research Fellow, University of Utah

    Lars Lofgren

    Samantha B. Miles, MSN, RN-BC

    Informatics and Education RN, Memphis VA Medical Center

    Lars Lofgren

    Alison Quinn, MD

    Staff Physician, Psychiatrist, Memphis VA Medical Center Memphis

    Ritu Raman

    Ritu Raman, PhD

    Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT

    Jason Ramirez

    Jason Ramirez, MD

    Staff Physician, Veterans Health Administration, Salt Lake City

    Anita Ranande

    Anita Ranade, MPH

    Chief of Business Office, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston

    Paolo Renigar

    Paolo Renigar, PhD

    Education Program Specialist, Veterans Affairs, Salt Lake City

    Fatima Shahzad

    Fatima Shahzad, MPH, MBA

    Senior Project Manager, All of Us Research Program / VA Boston HealthCare System / Boston VA Research Institute (BVARI)

    Jack Tsao

    Jack Tsao, MD, DPhil

    Staff Neurologist, Memphis VA Medical Center

    Taylor Wahlig

    Taylor Wahlig, PhD

    Post Doc, University of Utah

    Spring 2021 Faculty

    Pamela Bellino

    Pamela Bellino, MA, OTR/L

    • Director of Patient Safety VA Boston Healthcare System
    • Lean Healthcare Black Belt
    • Faculty of the Medicine/Surgery/Psychiatry VA Chief Resident in Quality and Safety (CRQ&S) training program at VA Boston Healthcare System
    • Faculty of the Ambulatory Patient Safety and Quality Improvement (QI) rotation BMC Medicine Resident Program at VA Boston Healthcare System

    Russel Eng

    • Industrial Engineer – Systems Redesign VA Boston & VA New England Health Care System (VISN 1)

    John Flaherty, MD, MPH

    • Chief Emergency Medicine, Memphis VA Medical Center
    Lars Frølund

    Lars Frølund, PhD

    • Research Director, MIT Innovation Initiative
    • Visiting Fellow at the MIT Sloan School of Management
    Stephan Gaehde

    Stephan Gaehde, MD, MPH

    • Boston VA Medical Informatics Fellowship Program Director
    • Boston VA Chief of Emergency Services
    Dimitra Georganopoulou

    Dimitra Georganopoulou

    • Chief Business Officer, MyGenomeRx
    • Venture Partner, MBX Capital
    • Medical Device Diligence Lead, Keiretsu
    • AimHi Accelerator Fund
    • Formerly with Baxter International
    Martha Gray

    Martha Gray, PhD

    • J. W. Kieckhefer Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Director, MIT linQ
    Anh Hoang

    Anh Hoang

    • Chief Science Officer at Sofregen
    Jacob Hooker

    Jacob Hooker, PhD

    • Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport MGH Research Scholar
    • Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School
    • Director of Radiochemistry, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging
    Tim Padera

    Timothy Padera, PhD

    • Associate Professor in Radiation Oncology, Harvard Medical School
    • Assistant in Biology, Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology
    Alice Lin Pomponio

    Alice Lin Pomponio, MPP

    • Managing Director, American Cancer Society BrightEdge
    • Advisor, Red Sky Partners
    • Founder, Accendo

    Contessa “Tess” Ramos, MSNED

    • Chief of Education / DLO Center for Learning Excellence George E. Wahlen, Salt Lake City VA
    Ravi Rasalingam

    Ravi Rasalingam, MBChB

    • Catalyst Alumnus ’19
    • Staff Cardiologist, Medicine/Cardiology, Boston VA Healthsystem
    • Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School

    Indranill Basu Ray, MD, FACP, FACC

    • Staff Cardiologist & Cardiac Electrophysiologist, Director of Cardiovascular Research, Memphis VA Hospital
    Andy Shin

    Andy Shin, JD, MPH

    • Chief Operating Officer for the AHA Center for Health Innovation
    Nancy Steele

    Nancy R. Steele

    • MIT linQ Faculty

    Daniel Torocsik, MD, PhD

    • Dermatology Unit University of Debrecen Hungary

    Iván Uray, MD, PhD

    • Senior Research Scientist & Associate Professor, Dept of Oncology, University of Debrecen Hungary
    Ben Vakoc

    Benjamin Vakoc, PhD

    • Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
    • Massachusetts General Hospital Wellman Center for Photomedicine

    Spring 2021 Independent Advisory Board

    Bonnie Charland

    Bonnie Charland, PhD

    • Associate Director of Quality Management, VA Boston Healthcare System
    Heather Davidson

    Heather Davidson, MD

    • Deputy Chief of Staff, VA Boston HCS; Hospitalist
    • Assistant Professor at Boston University School of Medicine
    Melinda Decker

    Melinda Decker

    • Chief Commercial Officer, Mymee
    Samuel “Mooly” Dinnar

    Samuel “Mooly” Dinnar

    • Founder of Meedance
    • Instructor at Harvard and MIT
    • Author of "Entrepreneurial Negotiation"
    Will Febbo

    Will Febbo

    • CEO of OptimizeRx
    Christiana Iyasare

    Christiana Iyasare, MD

    • Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Medicine Innovation Program
    • Co-Founder, Dyrnamix, Inc.
    Angela James

    Angela James, PhD

    • Director of Global Development Project Leadership in Oncology at Astellas Pharma
    Terry Keane

    Terry Keane, PhD

    • Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development at VA Boston Healthcare System
    • Director of the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder’s Behavioral Science Division
    Smithri Sunil

    Jagesh Shah, PhD

    • Vice President, Gene Therapy Technologies at Sana Biotechnology, Inc.
    Barry Stein

    Barry Stein, MD, MBA, FSIR, FACR, RPVI

    • Chief Clinical Innovation Officer at Hartford HealthCare
    Christine Zhang

    Frances Toneguzzo, PhD

    • Intellectual Property and Business Strategy Consultant