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AMWA Collaborates to Catalyze Innovation – Chicago Kick-off for AMWA 2023 Healthcare Innovation Challenge

Tuesday, February 7 marked an exciting moment for American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA).

The AMWA X WBC Dinner was a powerful evening event that kicked-off our AMWA 2023 Healthcare Innovation Challenge. Held at River Roast Chicago and sponsored by World Business Chicago (WBC) and Cooley, LLP, the event convened a diverse group of over 50 women leaders and allies from the public and private-sector healthcare innovation ecosystem to help catalyze collaboration. The program was led by AMWA Innovation Challenge Chair and healthcare technology entrepreneur Dima Elissa, MBA.

The event’s partners, World Business Chicago and Cooley, understand that diversity is the economic superpower of Chicago and Illinois – and that innovation must move at warp speed. Dima believes that diversity across domains is how women innovators ascend–as aptly reflected in one of her mantras:

If necessity is the mother of invention, then it is diversity that harbors success.”

AMWA President Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, shared an overview of AMWA’s 108-year legacy, highlighting some pioneers who paved the road for today’s trailblazers. AMWA continues to carry the torch – advancing women in medicine, advocating for equity, and ensuring excellence in health care.

Women physicians are natural problem solvers, which is the core skill set of an innovator,” stated Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber. “We have been solving critical problems and personalizing healthcare because, in medicine, one size does not fit all.” 

Given our history and priorities, it is no surprise that AMWA embraces the goal of supporting women physicians as docpreneurs and encourages them to emerge front and center on the innovation stage.

AMWA’s Inaugural Healthcare Innovation Challenge has two main parts rolling out on Saturday, March 25, as part of  #AMWA2023, our 108th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, March 23-26.

The Start-up Pitch Competition will raise the visibility of five women docpreneurs who qualified as Finalists. In-person pitches which start at 1 pm ET, with the winner taking away $10K plus a one-year membership to MATTER startup incubator. All five finalists receive an AMWAxCel Fellowship which offers access to a program of free coaching and mentorship by start-up experts.

The Innovation Poster Session – also on March 25 – is open to all women healthpreneurs, offering a wider group of innovating women the chance to gain visibility and build their network with VCs, other healthpreneurs and a range of academics, clinicians and researchers in the AMWA community. With in-person and online options, the Innovation Poster Session is open for applications through March 3rd — and three winning poster teams will receive an AMWAxCel Fellowship.  Apply here to share your innovation!

AMWA Leaders & Keynote for Evening (L-R): – Dima Elissa, MBA, AMWA Innovation Challenge Chair, CEO & Founder, VisMed3D – Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, AMWA President, Prof of Med, AU/UGA Medical Partnership – Keynote Speaker, Ngozi Ezike, MD, President and CEO of Sinai Chicago

Capping off the evening, a highlight of the AMWA X WBC Dinner was a keynote from Dr. Ngozi Ezike, President and CEO of Sinai Chicago, the largest private safety net health system in Chicago. Dr. Ezike, the first Black woman to hold this position in the system’s 103-year history, became a regional icon during the Covid-19 pandemic. She stressed the importance of self-care as a non-negotiable aspect of life.

The AMWA Innovation Challenge team plans to bring similar events to other AMWA chapters to cultivate our innovation culture and to support women physicians in entrepreneurship.

Special thanks to WBC, MATTER, and iBio for providing the resources and raising awareness as we launch this first-ever AMWA Healthcare Innovation Challenge. Finally, props & thanks to Denise Dorman of WriteBrain Media, who created our event video, and to event photographer Amber Marie Green. Both are  internationally-recognized Chicago-based creative talents who helped to make our AMWA X WBC Dinner more impactful and memorable!

AMWA members interested in the innovation programs, email

Team of Speakers, Sponsors & Leaders Responsible for the AMWA X WBC Dinner (L-R): – Kayla Cate, World Business Chicago Ventures (WBC) – Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, AMWA President – Dima Elissa, MBA, AMWA Innovation Challenge Chair – Billy Ndizeye, Venture Prog Assoc, WBC Ventures Ngozi Ezike, MD, President and CEO, Sinai Chicago, Keynote – Nicole McCarthy, Dir, Innovation & Venture Strategy, WBC – Alya Adamany Woods, Ecosystem Builder, Cooley, LLS






Women in Bio Leaders and Board Members (L -R): – Melissa Byrn, MS, MSci, Asst Dean, Clinical Research | Science + Tech Innovation, Univ of Chicago – Dima Elissa,MBA, AMWA Innovation Challenge Chair, CEO & Founder, VisMed3D – Azurii Collier, PhD, Dir Enterprise Innovation – AbbVie Nancy Tyrell, Assoc Dir, Translational Activities, Chicago Biomedical Consortium – Angela James, PhD, VP, Head of Clinical Pharmacology, MacroGenetics, Inc.- Laurie Bauer, Partner Cooley

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