Co-Founder and Executive Director
Amanda Sammann, M.D., M.P.H., received a bachelor's degree in human biology from Stanford University, a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University and a Medical Degree from the University of California, San Francisco. She completed her surgical training at UCSF and her critical care fellowship at Oregon Health & Sciences University. Dr. Sammann also spent two years as the Medical Fellow and Medical Director at the Silicon Valley design firm, IDEO where she honed her design skills. Amanda has spent a lifetime trying to make things better. She’s built novel content for health websites, developed health and surgical training curriculum and worked on fixing dozens of health care systems challenges. She is also a life-long crafter who enjoys working with paper and fabric. She enjoys running, skiing, any activity that involves her husband and two sons, and taking care of patients. Dr. Sammann fell in love with surgery as a medical student at the ZSFG and has spent some of the most spectacular and rewarding days of her life at ZSFG.
Co-Founder and Research
Lara holds a B.S. in neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego and an M.P.H. in Epidemiology and Health Policy from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Beginning her career in global health, Lara worked for several years with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Lebanon and at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva to implement and develop tools to improve mental health programs for refugee and displaced populations. Inspired by the US healthcare reform law through the Affordable Care Act, she saw an opportunity to improve patient experience and outcomes through innovation and improvement. Immersed in healthcare delivery system reform, she helped to lead the design and implementation of quality improvement programs in primary care practices across the U.S. Lara is passionate about resolving the deep disconnect between health and healthcare, which she finds are consistently disparate across nations. In her free time, Lara is a personal trainer and fitness instructor in San Francisco.
Devika received her B.S. in Engineering, Product Design from Stanford University with Honors in Education and her Masters in Community Health and Prevention Research from Stanford University School of Medicine. Prior to The Better Lab, she led design and research efforts at the global nonprofit TeachAIDS on a new health education curriculum in the United States. Her work is primarily in the space of human-centered design, engineering and research in the healthcare space. Her experience spans designing and developing an award-winning board game to facilitate social connection for adults with Autism, researching menstruation taboos in rural India, and designing sustainable toilet models for low-income communities in rural India. Outside of the world of healthcare, she practices classical Indian dance, dabbles in woodworking and metalworking, and reads nonfiction.
Ben received his B.S. in Engineering, Product Design and his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. Prior to The Better Lab, he was a design researcher in the IRIS Design Lab via the Stanford School of Engineering Catalyst program, where he worked with a cross-departmental team to design wearables for mental healthcare. His research experience has focused on the human-centered design of emerging and novel technologies for healthcare applications, spanning the design of a diagnostic device for low-resource settings, smart home technology for improving wellness, and understanding the stress responses of autonomous vehicles riders. As a teaching assistant at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, Ben facilitated graduate courses and workshops on using design for health behavior change. In his free time, he enjoys a cappella singing, tennis, and pottery.
Medical Student & Researcher
Andrea was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with a B.S in cell biology from the University Honors Program - Davis Honors Challenge. Andrea found her passion for medicine at the Joan Viteri Memorial Clinic, a student-run clinic linked with UC Davis Medical School, where she began a volunteer-led movement to improve the healthcare delivery at JVMC. Andrea completed the UCSF School of Medicine’s Post-Baccalaureate program and is currently a medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. There, Andrea is pioneering disparities research and QI work for the Lennox community with hopes of establishing a student-run clinic. Prior to the “Mejor Lab”, Andrea worked in the pediatric department at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital as a Briger Service Quality Improvement Fellow. Andrea is working to expand her impact in QI by utilizing human centered design techniques. This is just the beginning! Andrea is beyond excited to apply HCD to community health, patient experience and decision-making research. Outside of the lab, Andrea likes to travel a lot, practice yoga, draw, and hang out with her bicycles, her books and her dog.
Medical Student & Researcher
Liz received her B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley. She is currently a medical student at UCSF. She has been interested in space utilization and design since she was very young, but only recently discovered how to integrate it with medicine and health behavior improvement. Prior to joining the Better Lab, she was a Volunteer Coordinator at the Rotacare Richmond Clinic, where she identified and designed solutions for clinic workflow, volunteer training, and patient wait times. When not in lab or studying, you can find her hanging out with friends and family, hiking, exploring the city, going to church, playing violin, and reading.
Medical Student & Researcher
Josh received a B.S. in Biomechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in Product Design & Manufacturing from Stanford University and is currently a medical student at Yale University School of Medicine. While at Stanford, he explored the intersection of human-centered design (HCD) with health and education, working on projects ranging from medical device innovation to creating curricula to teach prototyping skills to non-designers. Josh has further used HCD to create and study interventions that support patient participation in medical decision making. He also works on digital health interventions for patients with opioid use disorder that facilitate medication self-management through induction, maintenance, and tapering phases of therapy. Serving as an Innovation Leadership Fellow at the Yale Center for Biomedical Innovation & Technology (CBIT) Josh has fostered healthcare innovation through project mentorship and program building. At dawn, he can be found riding his bike and alternating between shouting at other cyclists to wear helmets and debating the finer points of social-cognitive theory.
Medical Student & Researcher
Amy graduated with a B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University. While a student, Amy tackled projects promoting maternal, newborn, and child health with the global health non-profit John Snow, Inc., scribed for both an emergency department and pediatric GI clinic, and worked at the intersection of health, technology, and regulation with Samsung’s Digital Health Lab. Before joining The Better Lab, she assisted running design workshops at a diabetes conference and a business forum. Amy is an incoming medical student at UC Davis who plans to merge human-centered design into her training and medical career. In her free time, you can catch her playing pickup basketball, attending food festivals, and chronically binging TV shows.
Public Health Student & Researcher
Jerome is currently pursuing a B.A. in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley with sprinkles of Design Innovation and Molecular Cell Biology. Jerome enjoys practicing human centered design methods and learning more about the design in the medical field. His focus on design and biology has led him to be involved with various roles and activities on campus such as the Director of Operations at Berkeley Innovation, a Design Research Fellow at the Fung Fellowship, and a Research Assistant at the Saijo Lab. His ultimate goal is to improve the patient experience for those struggling with financial and housing insecurities. When he is not stressing about being pre-med at Cal, Jerome enjoys doodling/sketching, listening to Porter Robinson and drumming to Blink-182.
Medical Student & Researcher
Patrick received his B.A. in International Development Studies and Italian Studies from Brown University. He is currently a medical student in the UC Berkeley - UCSF Joint Medical Program, pursuing both an M.S. in Health and Medical Sciences and an M.D.. After college, he designed recycling programs for Oakland public schools and researched HIV/AIDS treatment in rural Zambia with the Clinton Health Access Initiative. A strengthened interest in HIV/AIDS also led to biking down the coast of California with AIDS LifeCycle and three years as an HIV test counselor at the Berkeley Free Clinic. Outside of medical school, Patrick avoids studying by serving as a spin instructor, training for triathlons, and constantly seeking out ideas for a documentary film.
Emergency Medicine Resident & Researcher
Jen received her B.A. in neuroscience from Pomona College. She received her M.D. from The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Prior to medical school, Jen worked as a client services intern at the UCSF Alliance Health Project and scribed for emergency medicine physicians at Regional Medical Center in San Jose. She was also a health services researcher at the Veterans Affairs in Palo Alto, where she helped design a clinical decision support system for managing chronic illnesses and a natural language processing platform for identifying heart failure data. Jen is passionate about improving the patient care experience and health outcomes through innovation inspired by human-centered design. When she’s not in the lab or the hospital, you can find her attempting to be the next big coffeehouse singer-songwriter, climbing/backpacking/hiking in the wilderness, and honing her photography skills.
Design Impact Student Intern
Katie received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a minor in business. She has a graduate certificate in Human Factors and Ergonomics from Penn State University. Katie recently completed her Masters of Engineering at Stanford in the Design Impact program. Prior to her work with The Better Lab, she worked for the Boeing Company. Her focus was to improve the ergonomic design of factory shop equipment and the flight deck to prevent injury. Outside of work she enjoys woodworking, hiking, and singing in church.
Product Design Student Intern
Sophia is pursuing a B.S. in Product Design and an M.S. in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. Sophia uses both qualitative, ethnographic research methods and data science approaches to understand human behavior. She ran an independent research project called America at 21, where she drove across the United States interviewing 21-year-olds from all walks of life to understand how they think about the future. Sophia has also conducted academic research on psychological interventions to improve reasoning skills. Sophia’s research informs her human-centered design work. She designed and ran a program that increased voter participation for 3,000 college students, and has also designed for low-wage workers, food bank volunteers, girls who play Minecraft, and more. In her free time, you can find Sophia doing crossword puzzles, running loops around campus, or listening to stand-up comedy.
Susan Dix Lyons
Co-Founder & Advisor
Susan is a social entrepreneur and former journalist. She is the founder of Clinica Verde, a healthcare design organization started to create a global prototype of a new model of care for families living in poverty in Nicaragua. She served as a Lecturer and Fellow at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (d.school), where she spent the year immersed in the study and application of design thinking. She also attended the Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has a Master’s in Art History with a focus on Architectural History and is especially interested in space and the application of evidence-based design to improve health outcomes. In 2014, Susan was honored as an Unsung Hero of Compassion by the 14th Dalai Lama. She is a sometimes-contributor to the Perspective series of NPR/KQED, a media junkie, middling snowboarder, and a proud small-town Ohio girl who has lived in Bogota, Colombia, D.C., London, Chicago, and San Jose, Costa Rica –but loves no place more than the orbit of her husband and three kids.