The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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MIE Seminar Series: "It's Time to Make Mental Health an Innovation Priority"


Friday, November 2, 2018 - 12:00pm


Dr. Brian Mullen, Brigham and Women’s Hospital


Gunness Student Center, Marcus Hall


Medical care has been driven by amazing innovations covering devices, diagnostics, and drugs. However, we have not seen the same rate of innovation for mental illness. This talk will explore some of the challenges for innovation in mental health care based on the case example of Dr. Brian Mullen's experiences as a researcher and entrepreneur translating his academic discoveries to commercial venture. Furthermore, Dr. Mullen will discuss his current efforts to advance the field of innovation in mental healthcare through is advocacy work focused on drafting legislation at the state level.

Brian Mullen is an entrepreneur, design engineer, and researcher with a passion for designing innovative medical products and assistive technologies. His passion for early stage new product development, innovation, and entrepreneurship started as an undergraduate at UMass while receiving his BSME. It was his experience on an independent study focused on assistive technology design that Mullen found his area of focus which led him to stay at UMass to continue studying design with Sundar Krishnamurty and resulted in a MSME and PhD.

As a graduate student Mullen studied the early stagesof design, going from clinical research to product and new business design. The work focused on how to take a multidisciplinary approach to designing products for people with mental illnesses, neurological disorders, and cognitive disabilities.

Mullen founded an early stage medical device company, Therapeutic Systems, to translate the technology he developed in graduate school to the market. The mission of the company was to help people across the life span who are struggling with brain disorders such as autism, ADHD, PTSD, and anxiety-based disorders by providing them with evidence-based and insurance-reimbursed medical quality technologies. The initial focus of the company was therapeutic wearable technologies that included a unique way to provide a neuromodulation intervention through the sensory stimulation. As CEO, Mullen led Therapeutic Systems in winning the MassChallenge in 2011, the UMass Innovation Challenge, and a VentureWell E-Team award; raised seed investment, launched a class I product and generated revenue through sales; and gave a TedX talk on designing for people with mental illness.

Beyond his work as strategy manager at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Digital Innovation Hub (iHub), Mullen currently serves on the Industry Advisory Board for the Center for Personalized Medicine at UMass, is the interim president of the board for the Institute for Human Centered Design, is an assistant professor at MassArt as part of the Master’s of Design Innovation program, and coaches and mentors entrepreneurs and start-ups in top national programs. He continues to advocate to improve care for people with mental illness and brainbased disorders. His advocacy focus is working on legislation to advance innovation in the field with the simple message: “we will not have parity in care until we have parity in innovation.”