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Learn More About NEHI's 2021 Honorees

Updated: Apr 19, 2021


Kathrin Jansen, PhD

Senior Vice President,

Head of Vaccine Research and Development,


Kathrin U. Jansen, Ph.D., is the Senior Vice President and Head of Vaccine Research and Development (VRD) at Pfizer Inc, and a member of Pfizer’s Worldwide Research, Development and Medical leadership team. With over 28 years of pharmaceutical experience in Vaccine R&D. Dr. Jansen leads a fully integrated, global vaccines research and development organization, with responsibilities ranging from discovery to registration and post-marketing commitments. She manages a clinical vaccines portfolio that includes vaccines to prevent or treat diseases of significant unmet medical need such as those caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), Streptococcus pneumoniae, Clostridioides difficile, Respiratory syncytial virus, Group B streptococcus, and Lyme disease. In collaboration with BioNTech, Dr. Jansen led the development of the BNT162b2 vaccine candidate against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). The vaccine was issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – less than 11 months after the he SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence was released and the first-ever authorized vaccine utilizing an mRNA platform. Additional accomplishments include the global licensures of Prev(e)nar13® to prevent pneumococcal diseases and the development and licensure of Trumenba®, the first vaccine licensed in the United States to prevent invasive disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B.

Before the Wyeth acquisition by Pfizer in 2009, Dr. Jansen served as Senior Vice President at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and on Wyeth’s R&D Executive Committee since 2006 and was responsible for vaccine discovery, early development and clinical testing operations.

Dr. Jansen spent 12 years at Merck Research Laboratories where she directed or supported a number of vaccine efforts, including Merck’s novel bacterial vaccine programs and viral vaccine programs (rotavirus, zoster and mumps, measles and rubella). Dr. Jansen initiated R&D activities and led the research and development activities of Gardasil®, the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine.

Dr. Jansen received her doctoral degree in microbiology, biochemistry & genetics from Phillips Universitaet, Marburg, Germany, in 1984. Following completion of her formal training, she continued her postdoctoral training at Cornell University working on the structure and function of the acetylcholine receptor. She then joined the Glaxo Institute for Molecular Biology in Geneva, Switzerland, where she focused on basic studies of a receptor believed to be a drug target to treat allergies.

Dr. Jansen was appointed an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania – School of Medicine in 2010 and has authored and co-authored over 190 publications. She is a member of the CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) scientific advisory committee, American Society for Microbiology and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Ugur Sahin, MD PhD

Co-Founder and

Chief Executive Officer,


Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D., Co-Founder and CEO of BioNTech, is a physician, immunologist and leader in the development of novel approaches to fight cancer and infectious diseases. Sahin is one of the world’s foremost experts on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) medicines. He has pioneered several breakthroughs enabling the development of mRNA vaccines and other types of immunotherapies. Sahin initiated and oversees “Project Lightspeed,” the historic development of the first mRNA vaccine for COVID-19, moving from lab and clinical testing to conditional approval within an unprecedented 11-month period. He also leads BioNTech’s research and development of neoantigen specific mRNA cancer vaccines which are individually tailored and produced on demand according to the profile of non-synonymous mutations identified by next-generation sequencing in patients’ tumors. Ugur Sahin is co-inventor of more than 500 filed patents applications and patents. Sahin’s academic credentials include serving as a Full Professor (W3) in Translational Oncology & Immunology at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, where he was the supervisor for more than 50 PhD students. He also holds the role of Chairman of the Scientific Management Board of the Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON), also in Mainz. Based on his contributions to scientific discovery, Dr. Sahin has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the German Sustainability Award, the Mustafa Prize, and the German Cancer Award. He is married to Dr. Özlem Türeci.

Özlem Türeci, MD

Co-Founder and

Chief Medical Officer,


Özlem Türeci, M.D., Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of BioNTech, is a physician, immunologist, and cancer researcher with translational and clinical experience. Türeci has helped lead the discovery of cancer antigens, the development of mRNA-based individualized and off-the-shelf vaccine candidates and other types of immunotherapies which are currently in clinical development. Türeci leads the clinical development of BioNTech’s “Project Lightspeed,” the company’s successful effort to develop and distribute an mRNA-based vaccine against COVID-19, a historic achievement completed in less than one year. Türeci previously served as CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Ganymed Pharmaceuticals AG, which she co-founded with Ugur Sahin and Christoph Huber. The company was acquired by Astellas in 2016. She currently serves as President of the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT) in Germany. She is a recent recipient of the German Sustainability Award, among other notable recognitions. Türeci is married to Prof. Ugur Sahin.


Jewel Mullen, MD, MPH, MPA

Associate Dean, Health Equity,

University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School

Jewel Mullen, M.D., M.P.H., M.P.A. is Associate Dean for Health Equity at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, as well as an associate professor in the school’s population health and internal medicine departments. She also serves as Director of Health Equity at Dell Med’s affiliate hospital, Ascension Seton. In both organizations, she develops and implements strategies to embed health equity as an operating principal in education, research, clinical care, and community partnerships. Over a career spanning more than 30 years, Dr. Mullen has applied her expertise in medicine, epidemiology, public health and public administration to improve the health of all people, especially those who are underserved. She is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in building effective community-based chronic disease prevention programs and for her commitment to improving individual and population health by strengthening coordination between community, public health and health care systems.

Prior to her arrival at Dell Med, she served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. During her state and federal service, she led organizational transformation to advance equity in programs and policies by instituting performance improvement frameworks, supporting staff professional development, and building broad partnerships. Having also helped lead state and federal responses to natural disasters, the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and outbreaks such as Ebola and Zika, Dr. Mullen currently supports a number of initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A former President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Dr. Mullen is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice, the National Academy of Social Insurance, the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Editorial Board, the ChangeLab Solutions Board of Directors, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policies for Action National Advisory Committee, and the Ann Richards School Foundation Board of Directors. She recently served on the Study Committee on the Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

Board certified in internal medicine, Dr. Mullen received her bachelor’s degree and Master of Public Health from Yale University where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in psychosocial epidemiology. She graduated from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society, and completed her residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a certificate in bioethics from Georgetown’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics.


Toyin Ajayi, MD, MPhil

President and Co-Founder,

Cityblock Health

Dr. Ajayi, board certified in family medicine, is co-founder and President of Cityblock Health, the first tech-driven provider for communities with complex health and social needs–bringing better care to neighborhoods where it’s needed most. Cityblock’s model of care meets individuals where they are, delivering highly personalized primary care, behavioral health care, and social services to its members, with a focus on those who access Medicaid, are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, and others living in lower-income neighborhoods.

Prior to Cityblock, Dr. Ajayi served as Chief Medical Officer of Commonwealth Care Alliance, a nationally renowned integrated health plan and care delivery system for individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. In this role, she led clinical operations, spearheaded care delivery innovations, and oversaw multi-disciplinary teams of clinicians, community health workers and administrators.

Dr. Ajayi received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge and her medical degree, with Distinction in Clinical Practice, from King’s College London School of Medicine. She completed her residency training at Boston Medical Center and continues to practice primary care focused on patients with chronic, complex and end-of-life needs.

Bay Gross

Head of Product and Co-Founder,

Cityblock Health

Bay Gross is the Head of Product and Co-founder of Cityblock health. He joined Cityblock by way of Sidewalk Labs, where he helped to identify the incubation opportunity and build the business case for what would become Cityblock.

Bay has been instrumental to the organization’s infrastructure by building out the Finance, Operations, Commercial, and People teams -- and most recently leading the Product organization. Prior to Cityblock, Bay was a product manager at Google working out of the Zurick and Bangalore offices and later invested in ventures at Thrive Capital, focusing on consumer and developer tool businesses. Bay received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Yale University.

Iyah Romm

Chief Executive Officer and


Cityblock Health

Iyah Romm is the CEO and Co-founder of Cityblock Health, the first tech-driven provider for communities with complex needs. By scaling primary care, behavioral health, and social services with custom-built technology, Cityblock is bringing better care to neighborhoods that have historically had poor access to quality, affordable healthcare.

Iyah founded Cityblock on the premise that health is local. In October 2017, he led the launch of Cityblock with the support of Sidewalk Labs and has since raised $300 million in funding from leading healthcare and technology investors. To date, Cityblock has partnered with innovative health plans to improve community health—first with EmblemHealth in New York, followed by ConnectiCare in Connecticut, Tufts Health Plan in Massachusetts, and CareFirst in Washington, DC -- and is today serving thousands of members in lower-income neighborhoods.

Iyah is known nationally as an expert policymaker and practitioner in the field of transforming healthcare delivery and financing. Before Cityblock, Iyah was the Chief Transformation Officer at Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) in Massachusetts. There, he helped to steward nearly $1 billion in insurance premiums and care for tens of thousands of Medicaid and Medicare recipients. Iyah also played a significant role in Massachusetts’ healthcare reform efforts, holding leadership roles at the Health Policy Commission, the state Department of Public Health, and as affiliate faculty at Dr. Atul Gawande’s Ariadne Labs.

Iyah studied Biology at Brandeis University and medicine at Boston University before dropping out. He is usually found with his wife and two kids, either chasing garbage trucks in Brooklyn or sailing.


Robert Coughlin

Managing Director, Life Sciences,


As Managing Director of Life Sciences at JLL, Bob knows that for life science companies, solving complex human challenges is their top priority and that’s why he is thrilled to make the transition into real estate. In this role, Bob will be a strong partner to life science companies to help them identify opportunities to optimize their portfolios, whether it’s through site selection, tax incentives or operational efficiencies.

Most recently Bob served as the President and CEO at MassBio. In this role, Bob’s mission was to advance Massachusetts' leadership in the life sciences to grow the industry, add value to the healthcare system and improve patient lives. Over the fourteen years, Bob truly became a champion for patients by ensuring innovative companies have the best environment possible to research, develop, and commercialize breakthrough therapies and cures for people around the world who need and deserve them. Bob played an integral role in making Massachusetts the best place in the world for the life science industry.

Bob has spent his career in both the public and private sectors. Before joining MassBio, he served as the Undersecretary of Economic Development within Governor Deval Patrick's administration, where he prioritized both healthcare and economic development issues and was a strong advocate for the life sciences industry in Massachusetts. Prior to that, he was elected as State Representative to the 11th Norfolk district for three terms. Bob has also held senior executive positions in the environmental services, capital management and venture capital industries.

In addition to his professional responsibilities, Bob is an active member in the community. He is a past board member of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and is currently serving on the board of directors for The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, Franciscan Children’s Hospital and MassBio. He also serves on the board of directors of Synspira Therapeutics and Boston Analytical. Bob has served as the honorary chairman of the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Walk since 1996. In years past, he co-chaired the Children’s Hospital Boston signature event, Champions for Children’s and the Schwartz Center’s Compassionate Healthcare Dinner.

In 2011, the American Diabetes Association honored Bob with their Father of the Year Award. In 2012, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation honored Bob with the CF Foundation Volunteer Leadership Award and in 2013 he received the Boston Irish Business Award from the Boston Irish Business Association. In 2014, he was awarded for his leadership in Biotechnology by the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research. He received the NTSAD advocate of the year in 2015 and was named to the Boston Business Journal’s Power 50, Top 50 Most Influential Bostonians. In 2016, he was honored with the Boston Biotech CEO Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017 Bob was awarded the first-ever awarded Governor Paul Cellucci Fatherhood Award from the Children’s Trust and the Breath of Life Award from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 2018 Bob received the Institute for Pediatric Innovation 12th Anniversary Founders award, was named one of Boston Magazine’s 100 most influential people and received the Veteran’s Day Award in “Recognition of Principled and Outstanding Leadership” from Takeda. In 2019, Bob received the “Guys Who Get It Award” from WEST. His latest honors include the Trailblazer Award from the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center and being recognized as a “Healthcare Star” by the Massachusetts Health Council in 2020.

He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he majored in Marine Engineering, and served as an officer in the United States Naval Reserve.

He brings passion and energy to all of his endeavors.

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