Rethinking Healthcare – 11 women charting the future of health

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March 8 marks International Women’s Day – a global celebration of the societal, economical, cultural and political achievements of women. Since the early 1900s, this day serves as an opportunity to reflect on the advancements that have been made toward gender equality, and plan for where we need to go.

According to a 2015 study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 47 percent of the total U.S. workforce, but only 39 percent of chemists and material scientists, 28 percent of environmental scientists and geoscientists, 16 percent of chemical engineers and just 12 percent of civil engineers.

Today, we’re celebrating some of the women in our IBM Research Healthcare and Life Sciences group who are not only pioneering new technologies and innovation, but paving the way for more women in STEM careers.

Eleftheria Pissadaki, Research Scientist, Neurobiology

Eleftheria Pissadaki, Research Scientist, Neurobiology







Eleftheria, a former ballerina and an active marathon runner, holds a BS in Mathematics, MSc in Neuroscience and PhD in Computational Neuroscience. She now deploys her skills in IBM Research Yorktown Neurobiology department. Together with the Blue Sky team, her work is dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s disease through the execution of the project’s experimental studies.

Before that, Eleftheria attended the University of Oxford, where her team worked on breaking research ground to understand Parkinson’s disease’s fundamental abnormalities. At Oxford, she was  also awarded Parkinson’s UK Innovation grant and the MRC Centenary Early Career Award.

Her favorite piece of advice?
“Χρόνου φείδου” Translated from Greek, “Value time” –  Chilon the Wise


Priscilla 2

Priscilla Rogers, Senior Manager, Cognitive Health & Life Sciences

Priscilla’s passion for health and life sciences research began during her PhD at Monash University. Intrigued by the challenges of diagnosing diseases outside the “Lab”, she designed singe molecule Lab-on-a-Chip devices that exploit micro and nanophysical phenomena for diagnostic purposes.

She joined IBM Research and today, she is the Senior Manager of the Cognitive Health and Life Sciences team at the Australia Research Lab. The work her team is doing impacts a range of diseases including melanoma, eye disease, and epilepsy, among others.

With a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, her other passion in life is in all things automotive – spending her free time pulling apart engines, making her cars and motorbikes go faster, and at the race track.

Her favorite piece of advice?
Live life to the fullest,  just go for it, say yes when you think you aren’t qualified for the job, and break through any self-imposed barriers. Challenge yourself to be better and to do better. Very simply, always strive to be the best version of yourself. That is more than enough!



Kun Hu, Research Scientist, Public Health

Kun is a research scientist at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA. She is the Primary Investigator of a research project using big data analytics for food safety. Kun also leads work building epidemiological models using an open source modeling platform called STEM. She has formed community efforts to respond recent epidemic outbreaks, such as H7N9, Ebola and Zika; has over 30 scientific publications and filed multiple US patents.

Kun lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two lovely daughters. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the world with her family (food tasting adventures), cycling, cooking, and teaching science and engineering projects to young kids.

Her favorite piece of advice?
“Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.” by Jim Rohn



Wendy Cornell, Principal Research Staff Member, Soft Matter Science

Wendy is an “architect”(INPT) who enjoys designing systems and solutions to enable scientific discovery, streamline operations, and develop and leverage talent. She is also a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and a pharmaceutical industry veteran who pursues drug discovery-related technology research at IBM.

Her Ph.D. thesis at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) described the development of a classical force field for proteins which is still used today for molecular dynamics simulations supporting drug discovery.

When not studying for her EMBA at Case Western Reserve University on the Cleveland Clinic Healthcare Track, Wendy enjoys traveling, off-broadway theater, hiking, and the beautiful Hudson River views in Westchester County NY.

Her favorite piece of advice?
“Hire good people and then get out of their way!” (Former boss, Wayne Guida)


Maria Gabrani

Maria Gabrani, Research Scientist, Cognitive Solutions


Maria has always been captivated by the power of mathematical formulations to describe and solve everyday problems. Not surprisingly, she chose electrical engineering as a first career!

At graduate school for her PhD, healthcare and math collided in the area of medical imaging, with applications in neuroimaging. Several years later and different imaging modalities afterwards, today she is based in the IBM Research Zurich lab, and focused on extracting knowledge from biopsies and post operation resections that are stained to visualize molecular expressions.

Inspired by our planet and its people, Maria loves to travel; exploring new cultures, natural habitats, architectures, tastes and ways of perceiving and interacting with the world. She finds peace and strength in yoga, inspiration in music and value probing from reading.

Her favorite piece of advice?
“The sky is the limit” (Thanks Mum!), “Never let anyone define you” (Billie Jean King), “Creativity is intelligence having fun” (Albert Einstein)



Natalie Gunn, Research Manager, Bionano Sensors Group

Natalie completed her PhD in structural biology, focusing on understanding the complex dynamics of a protein involved in cancer. She moved to IBM Research Australia as a postdoctoral researcher where she applied her knowledge of biology to investigate the structure and function of G protein-coupled receptors, a protein family important in drug discovery. She now uses her foundational biological skills to assess and drive the application of state of the art machine learning techniques to solve the top challenges in healthcare.

Throughout her studies and career, she has maintained a keen interest in horses, spending as many hours as she can in the fresh air with her loyal and dependable pony club horse and her eager young racehorse turned eventer (pictured).

Her favorite piece of advice?
Always keep an open mind, and no matter your age, never lose the passion for learning something new.


Vince Siu, Research Staff Member, Healthcare Sensors

Vince Siu, Research Staff Member, Healthcare Sensors


Vince received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Brown University. Her dissertation focused on developing nanoscale electrochemical and optical sensors for detection and quantification of biochemical compounds. At IBM Research in Yorktown, she is working with a team to develop next generation point-of-care and wearable sensors to collect data that can be used to derive actionable insights to improve overall patient care and quality of life. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering for STEM outreach programs, running, hiking, landscape photography, and cooking.

Her favorite piece of advice?
One of my favorite books, The Love of Life, by G.B. Talovich, consists of short stories that took place in ancient China, each with an important life lesson. Many stories taught me to respect all living creatures whether it be humans, animals, plants, and the environment around us. In this technological age of always-on connectivity, my advice would be to find opportunities to reconnect with Mother Nature.  John Muir may have put it best: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”



Christine Kretz, Research Industry Leader, Computational Biology

Christine is the Research Industry Leader for healthcare and life sciences and works with IBM Research teams globally in this industry. With 18 years of experience at IBM Research, she’s spent a lot of time working with our clients in this industry. Christine is a paramedic and a member of the research emergency response team. She likes to direct her talent to working with children and young people. She is the Coordinator of the IBM Family Science program in IBM’s Yorktown Research lab and has been a volunteer in Girl Scouts for many years. She is also the IBM Technical Advocate for the University of Pittsburgh.

Her one piece of advice?
“See one, do one, teach one.” Paramedics have that saying as way of really learning a skill. If you want to hone a skill, teach!



Stacey Gifford, Biochemist, Nanobiotechnology

Stacey is a molecular biologist and biochemist, working as part of the Nanobiotechnology team at IBM Research- Yorktown. Her work mainly focuses on developing silicon chip-based technology to separate and detect molecules and other nanoscale biological particles, which could help both doctors and patients dealing with disease. Outside of the lab, Stacey enjoys hiking and camping with her husband and two daughters. She is also an avid knitter, cook and lover of craft beer.

Her favorite piece of advice?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.


marion 1

Marion Ball, Senior Advisor, Healthcare Informatics

Dr.  Ball is a visionary in the field of Health Informatics and has worked in the federal, academic and private sectors. In additionl to her role at IBM, she is also Professor Emerita, John Hopkins University and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

She has published some of the core texts in the field of Health Informatics; she’s the author/editor of 20+ books and over 225 articles in the field of Health Informatics. Many of these texts are still in use by students today.

Her favorite piece of advice?  
Celebrate when ever you can! Birthdays, anniversaries achievements, family trips, holidays etc. These events and memories of happy times we will remember always. I learned that from my parents and have kept up the tradition when ever an occasion arises! 🙂

A second piece of advice is to try and see the best in the individuals in your life and be sure and let them know you value them. Verbalizing affection and pleasant feelings spreads lots of good will and makes both parties fell good!



Michal Rosen-Zvi, Director, Health Informatics

Michal is Director and head of the Health Informatics Department at IBM Research, Haifa. With a background in physics and learning technologies, conducted her postdoctoral studies in the area of Machine Learning at UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and the Hebrew University. In 2005 she joined IBM Research where she has since published forty peer-reviewed papers and co-chaired a dozen of workshops in the area of machine learning and health informatics.

Michal loves learning new things, from new yoga poses to how her children and grandchild start to talk and understand language. She has a deep passion for teaching, having given talks at numerous forums and courses about Machine Learning and its value in the medical world to graduate students at the computer science departments in TLV University and the Hebrew University.

Her favorite piece of advice?

I love the bible guidance regarding balance in life which begins, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” We need to know when to voice different opinions debate and disagree, and when to subside and follow others’ guidance. We need to find the right time for gathering stones and building a new solution and to accept loses and learn from them. I find infinite wisdom in this ancient advice and am happy to share it with you.




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