Patient Steering Committee
Our Patient Steering Committee ensures our company remains true to our mission and continues to be the industry leader in capturing the patient voice for pharmaceutical clients throughout the drug development lifecycle.
Multiple Sclerosis Advocate and Committee Chair
Director, Patient Initiatives, HealthiVibe, LLC
Jeri Burtchell has extensive experience as a patient advocate. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1999, she spent eight years on therapy that was ineffective following the advice of her diagnosing neurologist. After switching doctors, she joined a Phase 3 study for the first-ever pill form of treatment for MS. Jeri blogged her clinical trial experience in what was later recognized as the first-ever patient blog to chronicle study participation. As a result, she was invited to speak at multiple pharmaceutical conferences to provide the patient perspective on topics such as protocol development, raising awareness about clinical trial participation, and the intersection of research and social media.
In her role at HealthiVibe, Jeri works closely with patients and advocacy groups to recruit participants for qualitative research projects and works with patients to share their stories of living with chronic illness and disease to help sponsors gain insights into the patient perspective. She also is extensively involved in developing patient-facing materials for company projects as well as producing patient testimonials and compilation videos.
Jeri is the caregiver to her elderly mother with whom she shares a home in Florida.
Cynthia Covert is a wife and mother of two who resides in sunny southern California. She has been living with chronic pain from fibromyalgia, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and adhesions from surgical scarring and endometriosis for over twenty years. Cynthia is passionate about helping others find a better way to live with their chronic illnesses. When not writing for her blog TheDisabledDivaBlog.com, she can be found hanging out with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland or relaxing at the beach. She is also a regular contributor for Psoriatic-Arthritis.com.
Ally Ferlito, M.S.
Type 1 Diabetes Advocate
Ally Ferlito, M.S. is a healthcare advocate by circumstance and by calling. Professionally, she specializes in federal benefits entitlement for Veterans and Service Members. Ally obtained her Master’s in healthcare administration, and she is a Stanford Medicine X (MedX) Scholar and former MedX advisory board member. As a diabetes advocate, Ally believes wholeheartedly in finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and in accessible, affordable, high-quality, and high-dignity treatment options for all people living with diabetes. She is excited and grateful to join the inaugural HealthiVibe patient steering committee and looks forward to improving healthcare together.
Sickle Cell Disease Advocate
Born and raised in Alabama, Amy was diagnosed with sickle cell disease in kindergarten. She became an advocate after high school starting her own support group on social media and it took off from there. She planned the group’s first Sickle Cell Cruise in 2014 with 26 participants. By year 3 this annual event had 121 guests in attendance including 2 from Denmark and 2 from Nigeria.
Amy hosts a series of live videos about sickle cell, discussing topics like home remedies, coping mechanisms and how to live a successful life despite having sickle cell. She has spoken at the Rare Disease Convention in Washington, D.C. and speaks every year on the Sickle Cell Cruise. In fact, Amy speaks to just about anyone who will listen since raising awareness and advocacy are her goals. She help those in the hospital who can’t speak for themselves and visits those who are sick. Amy recognizes that many people with sickle cell do not have family support and the peer support is essential for survival.
T.J. Sharpe is a Stage IV melanoma patient who shares his journey through cancer in the Patient #1 Blog on http://www.philly.com/patient1/, on www.SkinCancer.net, www.oncology-central.com, and onwww.Novartis.com. He was diagnosed in August 2012 with melanoma tumors in multiple organs, only four weeks after his second child was born. Since then, he has undergone six surgeries and four immunotherapy treatments over two different clinical trials. The initial failures, and subsequent complete response, have been chronicled in his blog posts since December 2012.
In addition to writing, he is a keynote speaker and consultant to the biopharma and clinical research industries, bringing an educated patient voice as a true stakeholder in challenging healthcare's status quo and making a difference in patients' lives via his company, Starfish Harbor LLC. A South Jersey native, T.J. lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL, with his wife Jennifer and two young children, Josie and Tommy.
MarlaJan Wexler is the CEO and founder of Luck Fupus, LLC, as well as a pediatric nurse with over 15 years of experience. She was born with a complex congenital heart defect, and went from pediatric cardiac ICU patient to pediatric cardiac ICU nurse until a systemic lupus diagnosis forced her to put her career, and life, on hold. Since 2008, she’s been diagnosed and treated for multiple autoimmune conditions, PTSD, cervical cancer, and underwent a double mastectomy in 2014. She created the blog Luck Fupus in 2012, and in 2016 started Luck Fupus, LLC. Known for her pithiness, humor, and passion, MarlaJan has used her blog as a platform to become a patient advocate and influencer, traveling the country to share her story in hopes of bridging the gap between patients and the industry.