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Ingrid Swanson Pultz, Chief Scientific Officer at PvP Biologics and a researcher at the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design. (University of Washington Photo)
Ingrid Swanson Pultz, Chief Scientific Officer at PvP Biologics and a researcher at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design. (University of Washington Photo)

Washington’s life sciences industry has a habit of flying under the radar, despite the innovative and impactful work being done in labs and clinics around the state every day.

But once a year, the Seattle Health Innovation Forum brings this work to the top by recognizing local leaders in health innovation, from researchers to startup mentors to those changing the way we communicate about health.

The 2016 Health Innovator of the Year awardees include Ingrid Swanson Pultz, a senior research fellow at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design and the Chief Scientific Officer at PvP Biologics. She received the Imagination Award, which recognizes imaginative problem-solving in the health sciences.

Throughout her academic career, Pultz has worked to develop a treatment for Celiac disease, a genetic disorder that makes the body unable to digest gluten and can lead to serious damage to the digestive system.  Pultz has engineered proteins that sit in the digestive tract and can digest gluten, effectively treating the disease. At PvP Biologics, she is working to get the treatment approved by the FDA.

The awardees also include Col. Douglas Maurer, who was awarded for his work encouraging collaboration between healthcare institutions and startups.

A full-time physician and teacher at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., Maurer also makes time outside of work to meet with, support and perform research with early stage health companies. This collaboration gives startups an inside look at real-world healthcare systems, and assists them in the tricky process of entering the health space.

Other awardees include:

Lisa McFerrin, Bioinformatics Project Manager for Seattle Translational Tumor Research at Fred Hutch. (Fred Hutch Photo)
Lisa McFerrin, Bioinformatics Project Manager for Seattle Translational Tumor Research at Fred Hutch. (Fred Hutch Photo)

Lisa McFerrin, the Bioinformatics Project Manager for Seattle Translational Tumor Research at Fred Hutch. She has worked for many years on Oncoscape, an open source tool that shares data between researchers, clinicians and programmers across the world, removing obstacles to innovation in cancer research. She received the Collaboration Across Healthcare Institutions award.

Dave Chase, co-founder of the open source Health Rosetta Institute and the executive director of “The Big Heist,” a satirical film about the need for change in the healthcare system. He is a longtime advocate of healthcare reform, and was given the Perseverance in Health Transformation Advocacy award. 

Jared Munir, a Technical Account Manager at Translational Software. Munir provides customer support to the clinical labs that are customers of Translational Software’s interpretive reports and received the Customer Focus in a Startup award. 

Kim Wicklund, Group Health Cooperative‘s manager of patient engagement, Wicklund spearheaded the Plain Language Initiative at Group Health where she led a group that collaborated to remove jargon from patient communications and advocated for making plain language a Group Health communication standard. She received the Customer Focus in a Healthcare Delivery Organization award.

Dr. Sunita Mishra,  the medical director of innovation for Providence St. Joseph Health. Mishra has worked to bring innovative techniques to healthcare settings around the world over her career, including advocating for evidence-based protocols in Singapore. She received the Perseverance in Healthcare Delivery Innovation award. 

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