UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA
Darrin Akins, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Dr. Akins is Principal Investigator of the Oklahoma IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (OK-INBRE) award. OK-INBRE is funded by the National Institutes of Health and its main goals are to: (i) increase the number of independently funded researchers throughout the state of Oklahoma, (ii) improve statewide research infrastructure, and (iii) enhance the number and diversity of students that go into biomedical research and health professional careers in Oklahoma. He has served as a standing member on two NIH grant review study sections and has been on multiple editorial boards. He is currently a member of the NIGMS Advisory Council. He was previously Assistant Dean for five years in the Graduate College where he was in charge of directing all summer undergraduate research and training programs on the OUHSC campus. From 2012-2019 he served as the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Medicine where he worked at enhancing and promoting mentoring, research, and technology development in the College of Medicine. His is currently the Associate Director of Education and Training in the Stephenson Cancer Center. In addition to his Administrative role in the SCC he is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) where he studies how the immune system is averted by infecting pathogens. His research has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health since 2000.
Managing Director, Office of Technology Development, University of Oklahoma
Douglas Wright, Ph.D.
Professor & Vice Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Kansas Medical Center
Principal Investigator, SHARPhub
UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER
Michael Dixon, Ph.D
President & CEO, UNeMed
Michael Dixon is President and CEO, working with faculty, students and staff to help commercialize innovative, new ideas that have the potential to improve public health in Nebraska and beyond. Dr. Dixon is responsible for setting UNeMed’s strategic path while directing efforts to protect, market and license new technologies.
Dr. Dixon is a graduate of Leadership Omaha Class 32 and a 2011 recipient of the Midlands Business Journal “40 under 40” award. As an active member of the community, Dr. Dixon serves on several Boards of Directors, including Invest Nebraska Corporation, a non-profit, venture development organization that advises and invests in companies and early stage business ideas in Nebraska. He also sits on the board of Bio Nebraska, a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the development and growth of Nebraska’s bioscience industry.
Dr. Dixon holds a doctorate in Pathology and Microbiology from UNMC.
Paul Sorgen, Ph.D.
Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Paul Sorgen, PhD, serves as Principal Investigator for the Nebraska IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence award. Dr. Sorgen received his BS (Zoology, 1993) and Ph.D. (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 1999) from the University of Florida. Upon graduation, Dr. Sorgen became a Research Associate (Department of Biochemistry) at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and was supported by a NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 2003, Dr. Sorgen obtained a tenure track faculty position in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and is currently a Professor with tenure (since 2013). Dr. Sorgen has developed and maintains a nationally funded research program through awards from the National Institutes of Health (R01s) as well as the American Heart Association and State of Nebraska. His lab is committed to advancing our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of gap junction regulation, with particular interest in protein-protein interactions mediated by the carboxyl terminal domain of connexins. Over the past two decades, he have been productive in this area of research, and has been instrumental in the development of new molecular and atomic models to explain the process of gap junction channel assembly, gating, and degradation. He has biophysically characterized and solved the structures of several connexin-related peptides, proteins, and protein/protein complexes that have provided mechanistic insight into the regulation of gap junctions. In recognition of his scientific accomplishments, Dr. Sorgen has received the Distinguished New Scientist Award (UNMC, 2009) and Distinguished Scientist Award (UNMC, 2011).
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA
Don Sens, Ph.D.
Amy Whitney, Ed.D, MBA, BA
Director, Center for Innovation
Dr. Amy Whitney is the Director of the UND Center for Innovation. She is focused on leading the UND Center for Innovation to the next level by using her entrepreneurial and creative problem solving skills and background in town-gown relationship building. She oversees a vibrant center supporting entrepreneurs, students and faculty members in Grand Forks and across North Dakota.
Before joining the Center for Innovation, Whitney was Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Clark University in Worcester, MA. for seven years where she worked on curriculum development, hiring adjunct faculty, strategic planning, student mentorship and business creation, and collaboration with the community, alumni and the university.
Before joining Clark University, Whitney served as an adjunct faculty member teaching online management courses at the Community College of Vermont in Montpelier from 2002 to 2016. In addition, she served as state program coordinator for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Boston and Texas, from 2002 to 2009, and as executive director for the MADD Greater Boston Chapter from 1998 to 2002.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA
Beth Lambeth, Ph.D.
Technology Transfer Officer
Beth Lambeth is the Technology Transfer Officer at the University of South Dakota (USD). USD’s portfolio includes technologies in both life sciences and physical sciences. She is responsible for managing several strategic alliances and any USD startups within the portfolio. Beth is responsible for industry relations, patent prosecution and license negotiation. Through the Technology Readiness Acceleration Center, Beth works to train students in developing and commercializing technologies in the region. Beth holds an MBA from University of South Dakota.
Daniel Engebretson, Ph.D.
Vice President, Research & Sponsored Programs, Biomedical Engineering
Daniel Engebretson, Ph.D. is the vice president for research and sponsored programs for the University of South Dakota. In his new role, Engebretson is expanding the number of research disciplines that will directly affect South Dakota’s economy. Most recently, Engebretson served as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at USD and founding director of the Graduate Education and Applied Research (GEAR) Center in Sioux Falls. In 2017, Engebretson launched an associate degree program and a baccalaureate program in 2019 to support the biotech/medtech industry in Sioux Falls and to grow the workforce in the field. He has served as an advisor and mentor to dozens of graduate students, six of whom have started their own biotech/medtech companies in South Dakota. While at USD, Engebretson has been recognized for his outstanding research, including USD’s 2019 President’s Award for Research & Innovation. Tailored Medical Devices, a company he founded with USD graduate students Jordan Anderson and Sujan Lamichhane, received a $225,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a USD-owned technology for the treatment of vascular disease. In total, Engebretson has received more than $3.6 million in SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards. He has also served on the leadership team for two Governor’s Research Centers – the Center for Research and Development of Light-Activated Materials (CRDLM) and the Biosystems Networks/Translational Research (BioSNTR). He holds a doctorate in physical chemistry from Michigan State University.
Victor C. Huber, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Basic Biomedical Sciences
Dr. Victor Huber is an Associate Professor in Basic Biomedical Sciences at USD. He obtained his PhD from the Medical College of Ohio in 2001. He obtained further education in the Division of Molecular Medicine from Wadsworth Center of the New York State DOH in 2003 and in the Department of Infectious Disease from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2008. His research focuses on vaccines, the influenza virus, Fc receptors, antibiotics, cytokines, and Streptococcus pyogenes.