1. Melinda Gates, cochair and trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Nimbly throwing the foundation’s bucks behind both big-picture, tech-oriented, long-term solutions and modest, immediate action plans, Melinda Gates is a formidable force in the fight for health care in developing nations.
2. Anthony Atala, director, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
The first doctor to bioengineer a human bladder and successfully implant it in a human, Anthony Atala and his staff are now busy growing 22 different tissues–from heart valves to fingers–planting them at the forefront of this (ahem) growing field.
3. Jay Parkinson, founder, Hello Health
Mixing non-conventional payment structure (monthly subscription fee, PayPal but no insurance) and eyebrow-raising communications (e-mail, instant messaging, even house visits), Jay Parkinson‘s Hello Health offers a wildly popular alternative to the current model of high insurance costs and eight-minute office visits.
4. James Heywood, cofounder and chairman, PatientsLikeMe
Following his brother’s diagnosis with ALS, Heywood launched PatientsLikeMe–think of it as a social-networking health site on massive steroids. People with like diseases input clinically validated data, helping them empathize and learn from others’ experiences, while physicians and researchers can tap into the rich info to further treatments.
5. Thomas Frieden, director, Center for Disease Control
Picked by Obama to head the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Frieden earned his stripes first by fighting tuberculosis in India and then as the vocal force behind many of NYC’s most aggressive public health initiatives in recent years–from posting calories on menus and banning trans fat, to reducing public smoking–proving that sometimes the most creative way to tackle a problem is head on.
6. Peter Neupert, vice president of Health Solutions Group,
A multi-trillion-dollar industry still limping along on handwritten notes? Not for much longer, if Neupert and his HealthVault team, part of Microsoft’s electronic health record initiative, have anything to say about it.
7. Steve Case, founder and CEO, Revolution Health Group
First he cofounded AOL, then Steve Case turned his attention to health care. Now everyday users of the extensive online portal can create profiles, answer each other’s queries, rate their doctors, and deploy an army of widgets–all aimed at democratizing health information.
8. Hans Rosling, professor of global health, Karolinska Institute in Sweden
We’ll admit it: Rarely do we think of statistics as a particularly creative field. But Hans Rosling’s trend-revealing software–which first garnered major attention when it helped identify a new paralytic disease in Africa–is dramatically reshaping views of global health and poverty trends.
9. Douglas Melton, codirector, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Douglas Melton’s pioneering work to create new stem-cell lines that could replace malfunctioning cells in the pancreas that are linked to diabetes would earn him praise enough. But it’s his creative solution to use adult skin cells–thereby sidestepping the embryonic stem cell debate entirely–that will smartly keep Melton and his work clipping along, sans controversy.
10. Anne Wojcicki, cofounder, 23andMe
Others may have figured out how to crack the DNA code, but it’s Anne Wojcicki who’s lured the masses (and Silicon Valley celebs) to offer up their saliva for private genetic testing during swank “spit parties.” She and her partner, Linda Avey, are now compiling customers’ privacy-protected data into a research-ready database.
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