Heath behavior students claim prize for health equity

April 26, 2017

MyHealthEd, Inc., a nonprofit organization co-led by two students in the health behavior department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has won the $25,000 Aetna Foundation Prize for Health Equity Innovation.

Liz Chen and Cristina Leos

Liz Chen (L) and Cristina Leos

Liz Chen, MPH, and Cristina Leos, MSPH, both doctoral students of health behavior, are two of the three co-founders of MyHealthEd, Inc., which focuses on improving health education for youth through the use of technology. Vichi Jagannathan, a Master of Business Administration candidate at Yale University’s School of Management, is the third co-founder.

The team received the Prize for Health Equity Innovation on April 21 at StartUp Yale 17. They pitched their Real Talk mobile app for middle school students and their efforts were named the best student-led venture focused on developing a technology solution to address a health disparity. Chen, Leos and Jagannathan also took home a $250 Audience Choice Award.

“We plan to use the $25,000 to support an internal evaluation of our beta app in the fall of 2017,” said Chen. “We want to continue learning from middle school students how we can improve Real Talk and assess whether our app impacts knowledge, attitudes and behaviors as we intend.”

Cristina Leos (R) and Vichi Jagannathan (both in green shirts) present on the Real Talk app at StartUp Yale 17.

Cristina Leos (R) and Vichi Jagannathan (both in green shirts) present on the Real Talk app at StartUp Yale 17.

Along with the cash prizes, the MyHealthEd, Inc. founders will receive legal and consulting services to assist in their future endeavors to disseminate health education through mobile technology.

“We are excited to continue building our network through this ongoing collaboration with InnovateHealth Yale,” Leos said. “All our supporters have been instrumental to our success and this partnership will allow us to have even greater reach and impact.”

The Real Talk app is scheduled to be released in early 2018.


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu

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