Center for Discovery, Innovation and Development Advisory Board

skip rizzoAlbert “Skip” Rizzo, PhD

Director Medical Virtual Reality at the University of Southern California, Institute for Creative Technologies

Skip Rizzo, PhD, is Director of Medical Virtual Reality at the University of Southern California, Institute for Creative Technologies. Dr. Rizzo conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of virtual reality (VR) systems targeting the areas of clinical assessment, treatment rehabilitation and resilience. His work encompasses the areas of psychological, cognitive and motor functioning in both healthy and clinical populations. Dr. Rizzo currently serves as the associate director for medical virtual reality at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and holds research professor appointments with the USC Keck School for Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and at the USC Davis School of Gerontology.

Presently, Dr. Rizzo is working with a team to create artificially intelligent virtual patients that clinicians can use to practice skills required for challenging clinical interviews and diagnostic assessments. His cognitive work has addressed the use of VR applications to test and train attention, memory, visuospatial abilities and executive function. In the motor domain, he has developed VR Game systems to address prosthetic use training as well as physical rehabilitation post stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Rizzo is currently designing VR scenarios to address social and vocational interaction in persons with autism spectrum disorder as well as examining the use of VR applications for training emotional coping skills with the aim of preparing service members for the stresses of combat. His work in using virtual reality-based exposure therapy to treat PTSD received the American Psychological Association’s 2010 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Treatment of Trauma.

He is the senior editor of the MIT Press Journal, Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments and sits on a number of editorial boards for journals in the areas of cognition and computer technology. Dr. Rizzo is also the creator of the Virtual Reality Mental Health Email Listserve.


ramesh raghavanRamesh Raghavan, MD, PhD

Professor at NYU Silver School of Social Work

Ramesh Raghavan, PhD, MD, MBBS is Professor at NYU Silver School of Social Work. Dr. Raghavan conducts mental health services research on the needs of vulnerable children, with a specific interest in those in the child welfare system. He is the former chair of the National Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Services Research review committee, and currently serves on the editorial boards of Child Maltreatment and Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research.

Prior to joining NYU Silver, Dr. Raghavan was a Professor and Associate Dean for Research at Rutgers School of Social Work, and a member of the core faculty of the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research. Previously, he was on the faculty of the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. In early 2015, he served as Senior Advisor in the Office of the Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working primarily on the Obama Administration's psychotropic medication use and childhood trauma initiatives.

Dr. Raghavan earned his PhD in Health Services from the University of California, Los Angeles, his MD in Psychiatry from Kasturba Medical College at Manipal University, and his MBBS from Stanley Medical College at Tamil Nadu Medical University.


Roy Wade, MD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and General Pediatrician, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Roy Wade, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania with a co-appointment in the Division of General Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Wade’s research interests focus on the intersection between childhood poverty, adversity, and well-being. Through his work, he plans to translate research on the science of childhood adversity and toxic stress into effective strategies to improve community level systems of care in economically distressed communities.

Dr. Wade earned a PhD in microbiology from the Georgia Institute of Technology before earning a medical degree from Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University. Following his pediatric residency training at the University of Virginia, Dr. Wade completed a Mongan Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Policy at Harvard Medical School where he also earned his MPH in Health Policy and Management. He additionally completed a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Fellowship at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Wade has been recognized for his work in adverse childhood experiences and childhood trauma through various awards, including a Stoneleigh Foundation Early Career Development Award. His work has been published and shared through various medical sources.


David Caudel, PhDdavid caudel

Associate Director, Frist Center for Autism and Innovation, Vanderbilt University

Dr. Dave Caudel is an autism advocate and associate director of the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2009, Caudel is an autism self-advocate, speaking to a variety of organizations, including the U.N. and autism conferences internationally. For much of his life, he struggled to find his place in the world, and has had a number of careers, including as a videographer, a soldier in the U.S. Army, a journalist, photojournalist, magazine editor, public affairs specialist, truck salesman, and corporate stints from customer service to loss prevention, just to name a few, before deciding to give, “this college thing a try.” He received his PhD in Physics at Vanderbilt University, where he was offered his current position upon graduation.

Dr. Dave Caudel serves on the advisory committee for the Center for Discovery, Innovation, and Development at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey and is a founding member of the Vanderbilt Autism and Neurodiversity Alliance. His research interests include gamma spectrometers for astrophysics applications and finding meaningful employment for adults on the spectrum by finding novel, innovate ways to measure their strengths, talents, and passions, then match those to specialized business needs, as well as determining the programs and training needed to maximize success.


michelle a mahabirsingh

Michelle A. Mahabirsingh, Esq.

Counsel, Lamb & Barnosky and Founder, The MovingMindsForward Foundation

Michelle A. Mahabirsingh, Esq. is an attorney with an extensive background in business finance. She’s a sought after public speaker, legal consultant, strategist and negotiator with practice areas including risk assessment, securities, acquisition finance, dispute resolution, education law and end-to-end complex problem solving. Mrs. Mahabirsingh uses the breadth of her professional background to provide unique legal perspectives and spot, deconstruct and create innovative solutions to complex multi-dimensional issues for individual clients and corporations.

In addition to her profession, Mrs. Mahabirsingh is a national, special abilities education advocate and founder of The MovingMindsForward Foundation (MMFF); a non-profit dedicated to teaching parents how to effectively advocate for their children’s legal rights in education. Through her work with MMFF, Mrs. Mahabirsingh has been recognized as a subject matter expert on topics of education law and compliance, school placement, discipline, IEP planning and advocacy techniques. She has held a seat on Children’s Specialized Hospital of NJ Family Advisory Council, has been a certified Statewide Parent Advocacy Network Resource Parent and is a chosen facilitator for New York State’s new Pilot IEP Facilitation Program. As a public speaker, she has spoken at hundreds of engagements, including numerous Fortune 500 companies who thoughtfully provide access to legal special education workshops as a benefit for employees who have children with special needs.

Mrs. Mahabirsingh’s dedication to helping parents advocate for their children’s educational rights has been recognized on multiple occasions by New Jersey’s State Senate Education Committee. She has provided Senate testimony on topics such as tenure reform, teacher accountability, inequality in special education and the parental experience in advocating for children with special needs.

Mrs. Mahabirsingh is an Archibald Murray Public Service Award recipient and a former Dewey & LeBeouf Social Action and Advocacy Scholar. She earned her Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law, holds a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Maryland, College Park and is a longstanding member of both the New York and New Jersey Bar Associations