FFMI Team Members
Kristin Ball, Marketing & Communications Manager
Kristin has worked in marketing and promotions for the majority of her career, primarily in the technology and higher-ed fields, including a 10-year stint as a Promotions Manager at ProQuest where she specialized in copywriting and developing marketing campaigns.
She is a proud alumna who graduated from the University of Michigan with a double major in Spanish and Communications.
Samantha Cook, M.S.Ed., Commercialization Education Program Coordinator
Sam comes to FFMI with five years of experience in Instructional Design. Before joining FFMI, Sam was an Education and Operations Manager at SmithBucklin, an association management company in Chicago. There she developed, implemented, and evaluated continuing education programs for healthcare professionals including nurses, dentists, and genetic counselors.
Sam earned her B.S. in Health Science at Northeastern University, and her M.S.Ed. in Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University
Meghan Cuddihy, Ph.D., Program Manager, FCVC Innovation Program
Meghan comes to FFMI after four years of working as a customer discovery consultant for early-stage companies focused on cell purification, wearable devices, and circulating tumor cells/single cell analysis. Also during this time, she worked at Aquaro Histology where she helped build the team and advance the company, including working on customer discovery, maintaining key opinion leader relationships, and building the brand.
Prior to that position, Meghan was the Marketing Director for 3D Biomatrix, which developed a three-dimensional cell culture tool.
Meghan has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan.
Najoua Elbourkadi, Ph.D., Associate Director for Business Development
Najoua comes to us from Cooper Pharma, a Germany-based global pharmaceutical and healthcare company, where she was head of Business Development and Licensing. Najoua is returning to her U-M roots, as she was a postdoctoral fellow here under Dr. Richard Miller (U-M Pathology).
She received her Ph.D. in Medicinal Biochemistry from UNC and her B.S. and M.S. from Hassan University College of Science and Techniques in Morocco.
Debra Grega, M.B.A., Ph.D., Business Development Director
Debra joined the team from Ohio where she led the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (CSCRM, a joint Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic-led consortium) from 2004-2010. She brings over seventeen years of international, commercial biotechnology experience and has worked on both the scientific and business aspects of new biotechnology commercialization.
At Athersys, Inc., Debra managed strategic alliances with key pharmaceutical partners such as Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer, and she also has R&D and business development experience from Roche.
Debra received her M.B.A from Anderson University in Indiana, a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Kentucky, and completed her postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan and Colorado State University.
Michelle Larkin, MSE, Director of Commercialization Programs
Michelle has 7 years of diverse experience in the medical device and biotech industries. Prior to joining FFMI, she was the Projects Manager for the U-M Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program and a Biomedical Engineer for the U-M Pediatric Device Consortium (M-PED). In these roles, she facilitated commercialization grant funding projects and provided mentorship in the technology planning and development process with U-M inventors, as well as outside companies. Michelle also brings experience from working for two Ann Arbor-based start-up companies spun out of U-M technologies, Tissue Regeneration Systems and OcuSciences.
Michelle is a U-M graduate, having received her Bachelors degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2010 and her Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2011.
Bradley Martin, Ph.D., Managing Director
Brad comes to the FFMI team with 15-plus years of experience in the development of drugs and biologics, and particular expertise in preclinical development and translational research in the field of cardiovascular physiology and regenerative medicine. Much of his career has focused on the development of stem cell therapies for the treatment of myocardial infarction and heart failure.
He has considerable experience in leading cross-functional project teams, and has transitioned therapies from product concept through preclinical development, IND approval and eventual clinical trial. Prior to leading MTRAC, Brad served as a Mentor in Residence for the U-M Tech Transfer Office, was the Director of Product Development at Aastrom Biosciences, and the Director of Cardiac Research at Osiris Therapeutics Inc. He also spent several years as a Principal Scientist with Pfizer’s Esperion Division, studying the anti-atherosclerotic properties of ApoA-I Milano, and other novel peptides.
He received in Ph.D. in Physiology in 1993 from the University of Michigan, and completed post-doctoral fellowships in the departments of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Physiology at the University of Wisconsin.
Emilija Mitrikeska, M.D., Cancer Center Industry Alliance Manager
Prior to joining FFMI, Emilija worked for the U-M Rogel Cancer Center since 2006. She brings over 10 years of experience working with oncology clinical trials.
Emilija received her M.D. from the Medical School at the University St. Cyril and Methodius in Macedonia.
Matt Okoneski, M.S., Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund Analyst
Matt comes to FFMI and the Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund most recently from the U-M Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program, where he served as Project Manager. While there, Matt assisted in the development and commercialization of several new medical device product concepts by ensuring that projects hit key milestones, conducting market analysis, and managing budgets. Matt also has experience working in the medical device and in-vitro diagnostics industry in various roles, including medical education, post-market FDA compliance, and R&D for Medtronic, Boston Scientific, and others.
Matt received a Master’s degree in Medical Chemistry from U-M.
Hirak Parikh, M.S., Ph.D., Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund Manager
Prior to taking on this role, Hirak was Principal Scientist and Director of U.S. Operations for The Neuromarketing Labs – a startup based in Germany. His previous background is in neuroscience research and product development.
Hirak received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan.
Mike Ranella, M.B.A., M.P.H., Business Development Director
Mike obtained his bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Michigan State University in 2004. He started his research career at the John D. Dingell VA Hospital in Detroit doing clinical research in aortic disease in the veteran population. Mike continued working on projects in cardiovascular research at the University of Michigan beginning in 2007. He took on the role of Aortic Program Manager at the Frankel Cardiovascular Center in 2010. During his tenure there, he led cross-disciplinary teams utilizing new implantable technologies as part of the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) program. After spending many years working with both industry and research, Mike decided to pursue master’s degrees in both Business Administration and Public Health in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of the epidemiology of disease processes, as well as healthcare business operations. In 2015, Mike transitioned to FFMI as a Business Development Associate Director for projects in cancer and leveraged his experience to successfully build industry partnerships with faculty to further the mission of utilizing innovation to improve healthcare delivery. Mike now leads the Business Development team as its Director and continues to foster new partnerships. His background to date has primarily focused on cardiovascular health and malignancies, but he looks forward to working on all projects that transform health through bold and innovative discovery.
Sara Risch, Ph.D., Biomedical Innovation Specialist
Sara comes to us from the OhioHealth Research and Innovation Institute in Columbus where she was a Commercialization Associate. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from Ohio State University, where she specialized in microbial pathogenesis.
Jon Servoss, M.S., Director of Commercialization Education
Before joining the FFMI team, Jon was the Director of Continuing Medical Education and Continuing Education–Operations at the South East Area Health Education Center, part of the National AHEC Organization. While there, Jon developed, implemented, and evaluated Continuing Medical Education programs for physicians and other practicing healthcare professionals.
Prior to that role, Jon was a special project manager in Graduate Medical Education at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC, where he assisted with the management of four Resident Physician Training programs.
Jon completed his undergraduate degree at Adrian College, and his Masters in Education at East Carolina University.
Amy Zarichny, Senior Administrate Assistant
Amy comes to FFMI from the Office of Research Grant Review and Analysis office. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a degree in Organizational Communication, and received her M.P.A. from Wayne State.
Prior to coming to the University, Amy worked for a Head Start program and at a laboratory for kidney stone prevention testing.