Jayson Kurfis

CEO & Founder

Jayson Kurfis holds an MS/BS degree in biology and has a publication history that includes peer reviewed articles in cancer and renal disease. Jayson’s cancer work looked at the angiotensin II type 2 receptor and its binding properties while his renal work evaluated the initial stages of acute renal disease and how that impacted the expression of various proteins. His industrial research involved the evaluation of raw materials to ascertain their potential to cause skin irritation. For this work, a 3-dimensional skin model was used.

Jayson shifted solely to product management and marketing at MilliporeSigma. The work focused on two product lines; buffers and the biologic preservative Proclin. For buffers, presentations were set up for top tier customers to insure that our products were effective addressing their laboratory needs. The ProClin product line was targeted to the diagnostic market and insured consistent diagnostic results.

Jayson has advocated for SE Wisconsin biotech by writing articles for a Chicago-based VC firm, which includes a write-up about the health innovation pitch (HIP) event, investable technology being developed at Blood Center and a description of, Essential Biotechnology LLC, a company that is focused on developing new treatments for ovarian and lung cancer.

Dan Sem


Dan Sem has over 20 years of experience with biotech startups and in pharmaceutical development, in both industrial and academic settings. In particular, he has extensive experience in business and intellectual property strategy as it relates to scientific innovation, biotech financing and operations. In this regard, he has worked to assist both students and accomplished researchers in SE Wisconsin in their start-up ventures, via inter-institutional and public-private collaborations. He is passionate about educating students and entrepreneurs about how they can combine business and technical skills to address unmet needs in the world, in a sustainable way.

Dan has co-founded two biotechnology companies and one nonprofit focused on mentoring and assisting healthcare entrepreneurs. Dan has a passion is teaching, mentoring and helping others turn their dreams and innovative ideas into sustainable business models and companies that are profitable and have positive social impact (social entrepreneurship).

Dan has over 50 peer-reviewed papers and 10 issued patents. He has 25 years of experience studying protein-ligand interactions using various techniques, including NMR, fluorescence spectroscopy, mechanistic enzymology, chemical biology and computational methods (e.g. docking; cheminformatics).

Dan’s goals are to combine my business, scientific and legal expertise to develop and help others develop new ways to treat human disease, with emphasis on unmet medical needs (e.g. rare diseases).

Donald Melnikoff


Don Melnikoff is a customer-focused senior leader who excels at team-building and driving strategic growth by aligning company innovation with customer needs.

With a proven track record of strategic transformative growth, Don has successfully built and led teams in small to midsize companies across a range of industries. He has held senior leadership roles and has extensive experience in business development, operations, product development and innovation creation. Don's technical background, specifically in the medical, dental, and biopharma markets, has enabled him to establish new markets, identify growth opportunities, and form strong business alliances.

Michael Reilly

VP, Business Development

Mike Reilly’s career comprises over three decades of executive experience in the medical products industry. He advanced within the world’s largest medical products company from Product Director to VP/GM of a major worldwide franchise. In addition, he was brought in by separate investor groups to restage and manage two medical start-up companies. Mike has consulted with several medical products companies.

Mr. Reilly has negotiated the purchase and sale of various size businesses. He holds two patents in the emerging area of interventional pulmonology.

Mike has an M.M. from the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in Economics from Rutgers College.

Dr. Said Audi

Sr. Scientific Advisor: Tissue Studies

Dr. Audi is a Professor in the Joint Marquette University-Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Biomedical Engineering with expertise in computational modeling, pulmonary metabolism and hemodynamics, and acute lung injury. He is the principal investigator of the Computational Lung Physiology Laboratory, which develops experimental and computational strategies to investigate lung physiology at all levels—from molecular, to cellular, to whole-organ and body. The laboratory’s goal is to identify mechanisms and processes involved in lung diseases and injuries such as sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome, and then develop treatments for these diseases that target the elucidated mechanisms.

Dr. Audi’s research interests include acute lung injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), lung transplantation, pulmonary endothelium metabolism, pulmonary hemodynamics, computational modeling, and functional imaging (SPECT, optical). He has been an NIH funded investigator for more than twenty-two years. Dr. Audi has utilized Vivid’s technology to assess varying degrees of lung damage, which may be incorporated into his work involving isolated perfused lung studies.

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