Eileen has been a long-time member of the Highmark family. She spent 17 years at Highmark, Inc. in various roles, including health plan operations, product management, and development. She joined the VITAL innovation program team in 2015. Eileen is excited about the opportunity to truly affect a return on health for our customers and in accelerating valuable new health care solutions. She has a BS in communication and psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. Eileen lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, Rick, three daughters, and cuddly pooch. She enjoys spending time with them, traveling to new locations, riding the latest roller coasters, watching movies, being outdoors, and reading for relaxation.
In his current role with VITAL, Rajesh works with various stakeholders to gather information, design studies, and extract and analyze data to evaluate medical innovations. He has an MS in business analytics from the University of Connecticut and an MS in Business Management from Lund University in Sweden. Rajesh worked in data analytics for the media, consulting, business process outsourcing, and health care industries for more than six years. He is passionate about VITAL’s goal of accelerating patient access to medical innovations. Outside of work, Rajesh enjoys being outdoors and watching movies.
Nicole Fitzpatrick, PhD
Nicole is passionate about creating an environment where new medical interventions reach the patients who need them. Her experience as a neuroscience research associate at PsychoGenics, Inc. drove her to complete her PhD in neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. Realizing the extensive time delay between basic research and deployment of new treatments to patients, Nicole joined the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, where she managed programs focused on accelerating medical innovations to commercialization. In her current role as a VITAL research manager, Nicole manages teams of clinician researchers and industry partners.
Ericka Holmstrand, PhD
Ericka worked as a biomedical researcher for more than 14 years, conducting neuroscience experiments across a range of disciplines, including molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, fluorescence and electron microscopy imaging, and animal behavior. She received her BS in systems neuroscience from Brown University in 2000 and her PhD in neuroscience from University of Pittsburgh in 2010. Following postdoctoral work in neuropharmacology at Vanderbilt University, Ericka transitioned to a data analytics role, producing custom analyses of state reading and mathematics results for K-12 educational technology customers. She joined the VITAL team in 2017, excited by the opportunity to support effective and transformative innovation in health care. In her spare time, Ericka enjoys home renovation projects, exploring Pittsburgh, and traveling to new places.
Ritika Nigam, MD
Ritika is passionate about health care. Originally from Mumbai, she completed her medical training in India where she worked as a physician. Ritika developed a keen interest in process improvement and exploring new health care technologies to improve her patients’ well-being. She came to the U.S. to pursue a Masters in Health Care Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. She also completed her Green Belt Lean Six Sigma Training and Certification. Ritika has worked across diverse settings in health care as a consultant, hospital administrator, marketer, and project manager. She has been with Highmark for more than three years. Ritika now lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, Ayush, and their daughter, Amaira. She loves travelling and experiencing local culture and food.
Gerard brings more than six years of project management and Lean experience to VITAL from multiple disciplines. In his most recent role with Highmark’s Value-Based Care team, Gerard collaborated with cross-functional teams of clinicians, data analysts, and electronic medical records specialists to lead the development of clinical care models at Allegheny Health Network. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton with a BS in mechanical engineering. Gerard also completed his MBA at Baldwin-Wallace University with a focus on health care administration. Previously, Gerard worked for the Cleveland Clinic. He was also a defense and aerospace researcher and was an engineer for the oil and gas industry. Outside of work, Gerard enjoys live music, running 5Ks, and exploring Pittsburgh.
Sarah is an accomplished health care executive focused on making it easier for people to achieve their best health. In her current role, she leads Highmark Health’s transformation to human-centered, value-based care. Prior to joining Highmark, Sarah was vice president of Innovation at Humana Health Care. She led the charge to apply design thinking to develop solutions to stop chronic disease progression. Sarah holds a BA in psychology from Tulane University, an MA in health services management from Webster University, and an MBA with a focus on entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville. Sarah and her husband have two children and recently relocated to Pittsburgh from Louisville, her lifelong home. She thrives on community involvement and recently joined the Tull Family Theater Board of Directors in Sewickley, PA. She also enjoys running and has completed the New York City and Chicago marathons.