Advisory Board

Ralph Kauten
Mr. Kauten has held senior management positions at Promega (a leading reagent supplier) and PanVera (a drug discovery company acquired by Invitrogen).  He is still engaged in the biotech industry as Chairman of Mirus Bio Corporation, board member of Lucigen Corporation and President and CEO of Quintessence Biosciences, Inc. 

Robert M. Nerem
Parker H. Petit Distinguished Chair for Engineering in Medicine, Institute Professor, and Founding Director of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB) Robert Nerem has been active in bioengineering for more than thirty-five years. Since 1987, Dr. Nerem has been a professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering and as the Parker H. Petit Distinguished Chair for Engineering in Medicine. He also has an appointment in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Prior to coming to Georgia Tech, he was a professor and chairman in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston from 1979 to 1986 and on the faculty at the Ohio State University from 1964 to 1979.Dr. Nerem now servesas director of the Georgia Tech/Emory Center for the Engineering of Living Tissues (GTEC), an Engineering Research Center established in 1998 and funded by the National Science Foundation.

He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998. Nerem is past president of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering and past president of the International Union for Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine. He was also the founding president of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and he served on the Science Board of the Food and Drug Administration from 2000 to 2003. In 2008 he received the Founders Award from the National Academy of Engineering.

Gail Robertson, PhD
Dr. Robertson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison and a co-founder of the M.S. in Biotechnology Program.  She received her PhD in Neuroscience from Washington University, where she studied synaptic regulation of motor neurons controlling limb movement.  Dr. Robertson currently supervises a research laboratory of some ten scientists and students investigating ion channels that control the rhythmic activity of the heart.  Work in her lab explained the underlying basis of type 2 and acquired Long QT Syndrome, a significant cause of sudden cardiac death, as a loss of function of the hERG ion channel.  Affecting an estimated 1-4% of the population, acquired LQTS occurs when drugs intended for other therapeutic targets block hERG channels and lead to life-threatening arrhythmias.  Dr. Robertson is actively engaged in the transfer of hERG-related technologies, which are used by drug discovery companies to screen out those drugs that block hERG channels and may therefore trigger acquired LQTS.  In addition, she consults for biotechnology and pharmaceutics companies engaged in research on hERG and other ion channel targets.

James H. Shepherd, Jr.
Mr. Shepherd founded the Shepherd Center, Inc. in August of 1975 and has served as Chairman of the Board for 32 years.  The Shepherd Center is a 120 bed catastrophic care hospital that serves patients with spinal cord injury, acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.  The Shepherd Center is ranked among US News and World Reports as one of the best hospitals providing rehabilitation in the United States.  Mr. Shepherd participates in multiple clinical trials that seek to ameliorate the severity of neurological injury and disease processes.  Over the last several years the Shepherd Center was one of 4 sites in the US that participated in the clinical trials of the Procord procedure developed by Proneuron Biotechnologies which utilized specially treated macrophage cells to repair damage to an injured spinal cord.  Mr. Shepherd has maintained his interest in potential cure efforts involving cell therapies and is pursuing FDA approval for the use of autologous adult stem cells extracted from the patient’s bone marrow.  Mr. Shepherd has a long history of leading or participating in patient advocacy efforts (private and public) starting in the 1970’s and now totaling 22 local or national conferences, committees and councils.