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About iCAN

Our Mission

To foster a greater global understanding of the importance of the pediatric patient and caregiver voice in healthcare, clinical trials, and research.

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Most of our youth members range in age from 8-18, with some chapters having members a little younger or a little older. Many of our youth are medically complex or live with chronic or rare disease, though some do not have any diagnosed medical condition.  All are interested in having their voices heard by individuals, industry, and government agencies who can make a difference in pediatric healthcare.  

Every Child. Everywhere.

It is so inspiring to be around so many young kids who are always fighting for a brighter future in healthcare. I've never felt more at home.

iCAN Youth Member

Meet The Team

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Charles Thompson

Founder and Chairman

Charlie is the Founder of the International Children's Advisory Network and has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors since its inception. In addition, Charlie is the Founder and Global Lead for the Pfizer Pediatric Center of Excellence. Throughout his 25+ year Pfizer career, Charlie has taken on diverse roles in clinical development, clinical safety/risk management, and medical affairs. He is also the Founder and Past Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Advances in Therapeutics and Technology and a former member of the Board of Directors for the Hezekiah Beardsley Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Charlie served multiple terms as a governor-appointed member of the Connecticut Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics committee and served on the State of Connecticut Immunization Task Force following an appointment by the Speaker of the House. Charlie is a board-certified pediatrician who earned his M.D. at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and completed his pediatric residency at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford. He is a Clinical Instructor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and served as a member of the medical staff at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Charlie and his wife, Heather, have four children and a grandchild.

Leanne West holds the position of Pediatric Innovation Catalyst at the Global Center for Medical Innovation and serves as the Chief Engineer of Pediatric Technology at Georgia Tech. In her capacity, she acts as the technical intermediary between Georgia Tech and children's hospitals, with a focus on identifying unmet clinical needs and developing appropriate solutions. She serves as the President of the International Children's Advisory Network (iCAN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the significance of the pediatric patient experience and input in the realm of medical research and development. iCAN is actively engaged as a partner in the FDA CDRH Patient and Caregiver Connection and the Total Product Life Cycle Advisory Program. Leanne is an esteemed member of several distinguished committees and boards, including the International Society for Pediatric Innovation Executive Team, the Patient-Focused Medicines Development Board, the steering committees for both the Pediatric Trial Network (PTN) and the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials (MRCT) Center of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard (MRCT). Additionally, she contributes her expertise as a member of the Medical Device Innovation Consortium (MDIC) Patient Preference Information Committee and the MDIC National Evaluation System for Health Technology Coordinating Center (NESTcc) governing committee. Her involvement extends to the Technology Association of Georgia Digital Health Board and the Georgia Technology Authority Board. Leanne's remarkable contributions have been acknowledged in her recognition as Women in Technology's Woman of the Year in 2014. Notably, she brings a unique perspective to her work, as she herself is a patient contending with two rare diseases. In recognition of her insights and experience, she serves on the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research Patient Advisory Council.

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Leanne West


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Chester J. Koh


Dr. Chester Koh is a pediatric urologist and “physicianeer” at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH), and Professor of Urology, Pediatrics, and OB/GYN at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). He also holds adjunct titles at UT Houston and in the Rice University Department of Bioengineering as well as serves as an External Advisory Board Member for the Texas A&M Department of Biomedical Engineering and a member of the TMC Venture Fund Investment Advisory Committee. Dr. Koh received his B.S. with Honors in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley, his MD from Tufts University School of Medicine, and completed his urology residency at USC, and his pediatric urology fellowship at Children’s Hospital Boston / Harvard Medical School, as well as his MBA from the University of Illinois. His clinical area of expertise is in minimally invasive surgery in children for pediatric urologic conditions, and especially with robotic surgery and the device needs in this area. He is also the founder, contact principal investigator, and executive director of the Southwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium (SWPDC) which is a FDA P50 grant-supported multi-institutional consortium that includes TCH and BCM, Texas A&M, Rice, University of Houston, and University of Minnesota. SWPDC is dedicated to improving children’s health by supporting pediatric device innovators in creating novel pediatric medical devices with local, regional, and national institutional and innovation partners.

Jon Haygood serves as the Assistant Treasurer for Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), a leading U.S. energy company serving 9 million customers with clean, safe, reliable, and affordable electricity and natural gas. He is currently serving or has served on the board of directors for multiple small start-up companies in treasury/financial advisory roles. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech and is married to his high school sweetheart Emily. Together they have two grown sons, Jake and Sam, who were both involved in KIDS Georgia and iCAN.  Jon began involvement with iCAN and KIDS Georgia in 2014 as a parent, has attended all but one research and advocacy summits with his family, and has personally seen the benefits of sharing and hearing experiences of other parents and kids. iCAN has created educational, social, and professional opportunities for his family that are challenging to find outside of the organization. Jon also sees the immense impact the organization can have on the future of pediatric research and medicine and endeavors to ensure iCAN remains on strong financial footing well into the future.

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John Haygood


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Sabina Schmidt Goldstein-Bercerra

Executive Director

Sabina Schmidt Goldstein is a dynamic leader driven by a profound passion for prioritizing the pediatric patient perspective in medicine, innovation, and research. With a background as both an educator and the daughter of a neonatologist, Sabina's journey into pediatric empowerment began early, attending conferences with her father, where she developed a deep understanding of the importance of prioritizing children's needs in decision-making. Sabina's academic pursuits, including her attainment of a Master of Arts in Teaching & Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine, attest to her firm belief in prioritizing the child's perspective and recognizing the significance of holistic child development in shaping institutional frameworks and practices. Moreover, as a teacher at heart, Sabina grasps the pivotal role children assume as stakeholders in healthcare. These experiences have propelled her fervor to ensure that pediatric patient perspectives are not merely acknowledged but deeply valued within medical research and practice.

In her role as the Executive Director at iCAN, Sabina leads initiatives aimed at empowering pediatric patients to actively participate in shaping their healthcare experiences and the pediatric landscape, as well as their paths within it. She has designed engaging curricula focused on careers in healthcare and the regulatory landscape, collaborating closely with healthcare professionals and educators to ensure program relevance and effectiveness.

Sabina's leadership is marked by her unwavering commitment to creating inclusive environments where pediatric patients feel empowered to voice their opinions and contribute meaningfully to healthcare decision-making. Her vision is to build a future where every child's perspective is recognized and respected in pediatric medicine, innovation, and research.

Abby Clark is a designer, problem solver, and coordinator who is experienced in creating and delivering patient-facing visual materials as well as coordinating projects with key stakeholders in the pediatric healthcare world. She developed her passion for the pediatric advocacy space during her time at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she gained her B.S. in LMC with a concentration in Interactive Media and Design. As Director of Operations for iCAN, Abby strives to empower pediatric patients to feel confident in themselves and in the knowledge that they truly are the experts in their own conditions. She believes that by uplifting the pediatric patient voice, all facets of healthcare will be more accessible to every child around the world. 

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Abby Clark

Director of Operations

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Advisory Board Members

Phyllis Kennel

Program Manager, Pediatric Trial Network, Asst. Director, Clinical Operations, Duke Clinical Research Institute

Dr. Sharon Smith

iCAN Director of Research, Professor, Pediatrics, School of Medicine,

UConn Health

Kevin Aniskovich

President and Chief Executive Officer,

Jumo Health

Jennifer Degl

Parent Council Co-Chair

Deb Discenza

Parent Council Co-Chair

Dr. Anthony Chang

Chief Intelligence and Information Officer for CHOC, Chair of the Board for the International Society for Pediatric Innovation (iSPI)

Margaret Patton

International Society for Pediatric Innovation (iSPI)

Heather Peterson, RN, BSN

Paediatric Strategy Liaison

Centre for Paediatric Clinical Development

Dr. Alberto Tozzi

International Society for Pediatric Innovation (iSPI)

Luna Bitar

Young Professional's Network Co-Chair

Ella Schaffer

Youth Council Co-Chair


Medical Director, Neonatal Intensive

Care Unit at Citrus Valley 

John Ssentamu

African Continent Representative

Chapter Leader KIDS Uganda

Jackie Burke

Project Manager,

American Academy of Pediatrics

Donato Bonifazi

European Continent Representative

Chapter Leader KIDS Bari

Courtney Marie Tate

Principal Clinical Research Scientist,  

Eli Lilly

Louise Kearney

International Society for Pediatric Innovation (iSPI)

Marc Lalande

International Society for Pediatric Innovation (iSPI)

Dr. Alberto Tozzi

International Society for Pediatric Innovation (iSPI)

Uma Subrayan

Young Professional's Network Co-Chair

Braulio Hernandez

Young Professional's Network Co-Chair

Meghan Herrington

Youth Council Co-Chair


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