Ingenuity and advocacy: Mom inventor named Boston Children’s Rising Star

Catherine Rose Rising Star Boston Children's Hospital
Catherine Rose with daughter Alexis (Catherine Lacey Photography)

What spurs innovation? Catherine Rose, PhD, MBA, senior product manager for Philips Healthcare Applications, says it was her daughter, Alexis.

In 2010, Alexis, who is visually impaired and profoundly deaf, visited a Philips showroom and was captivated by the interactive displays of colored LED lighting. Intrigued by her daughter’s response to light, Rose called upon her mechanical engineering background and conceptualized and launched LightAide, a teaching tool for children with low vision and cognitive disabilities that uses interactive displays of color to introduce literacy and mathematical concepts.

Today, the device, based on Philips’s LED technology, is marketed through a for-profit/non-profit partnership between Philips and Perkins School for the Blind. Last week, it earned Rose a Rising Star Award from Boston Children’s Hospital, presented during the hospital’s Global Pediatric Innovation Summit, Taking on Tomorrow (#PedInno14) on Friday, October 31.

Rose was selected from a pool of basic scientists, researchers, clinicians, informaticists and businesspeople and will receive $25,000 to advance her LightAide project. Sandra L. Fenwick, Boston Children’s President and CEO, applauded Rose’s inventiveness, ingenuity and unwavering commitment to children and families worldwide.

“Dr. Rose could be commended if she had developed a tool that helped her daughter interact more capably with the world, but she did so much more,” said Fenwick. “She’s given hope for the future to other disabled populations and stood up for all parents who want to build a better world for their children.”

Rose, 40, said she aspires to accomplish more in the years to come. “My journey is one of many caregivers around the world working hard to juggle all that is on their plate,” she said. “I am eager to push to see what I can accomplish over the next 40 years.”

“Catherine is a force to be reckoned with,” says Amber Bobnar, who nominated Rose and is founder of WonderBaby.org, a support web site for parents of children who are blind. “She forces her way through barriers and preconceived notions. She’s a fighter, and she’s fighting for kids who are so often forgotten.”

For more about the Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards 2014, read the coverage on Vector, visit www.takingontomorrow.org or follow #PedInno14 on Twitter.