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The Team

XLerateHealth leadership brings decades of experience to the table. The team represents deep healthcare domain expertise from venture capital investing, reimbursement, life sciences, digital health to academia and non dilutive funding.

Jackie Willmot

CEO & Co-founder

Jackie has 30+ years of experience in the healthcare industry including 13 years as a clinician and 15 years as an executive at Humana in the Innovation Center including 3 years working for a Humana Startup in the United Kingdom. Since leaving Humana in 2009 Jackie was trained by Steve Blank in his ‘Lean Launchpad Educators Class’ at Stanford University, has worked with 300+ startups, and serves as a business coach in a variety of capacities. She was a founding member and on the Board of Directors of the Network for Entrepreneurial Women and has worked with healthcare startups via the LaunchIt program where she works closely with Coulter, ExCITE, and I-Corps funded companies. Jackie is a Principal Investigator (PI) on an NIH funded initiative to create the XLeratorNetwork in the Southeast IDeA States and also sits on the External Review Board (ERB) for the NIH funded KYNETIC program, the University of Kentucky’s External Advisory Committee (EAC) for the NIH funded CCTS program, and the Review Panel for the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust’s BioTech Accelerator Program “EnTRUST”. She is a Master’s prepared Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist and holds an MBA from the University of Louisville’s entrepreneurship program, a Master’s of Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Baccalaureate Nursing degree from Villa Maria College.

Bob Saunders

Chairman & Co-founder

Bob is a General Partner of OCA Ventures (Chicago), a Founding Partner of Saunders Murdoch and Associates (Louisville/Boston), and is an active investor in many healthcare startups. Bob was a Managing Director and General Partner at Chrysalis Ventures from 1997 to 2009. Bob was a founding board member of MetaCyte Business Lab, the University of Louisville’s life science incubator. Over the last 30 years, he has invested in several dozen startup companies and has mentored 100+ startups. Bob received a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and an M.A. from Harvard University. He was both a Fulbright Scholar and a Marshall Scholar

Eugene Krentsel

CSO & VP of Strategic Partnership & Alliances

Prior to joining XLerateHealth, Dr. Krentsel served as Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation and Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Louisville. He was responsible for the full range of activities in the discovery-innovation-translation-commercialization spectrum at UofL, including working with external groups in the public and private sectors to promote commercialization of university technologies and advancing industry engagement and entrepreneurship. Prior to being recruited to UofL in 2013, he served as Assistant Vice President for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships at Binghamton University in New York, where he helped develop and protect faculty intellectual property, paired researchers’ expertise with pressing market needs, and offered guidance to faculty and students interested in starting their own business. 

Sebastian Alvim

Managing Director

Prior to stepping into the role of Managing Director, Sebastian joined the XLH team in Flint as Program Director and was instrumental in launching XLH’s 2nd location in Flint — which included collaborating with multiple healthcare stakeholders and investors in the region, building out and enhancing the programming, and creating technology tools that have improved the efficiencies and effectiveness of running the accelerator.   Sebastian has extensive experience with evaluation of business strategy, commercial viability, and market analysis. He has advised 50+ healthcare startup companies successfully applying Lean Startup Methodology to help them develop, grow, and scale up their businesses.   Sebastian also serves as a startup judge for the Michigan startup competition Invest360.  Prior to XLH, he was a Co-founder of MyNurse, a home healthcare marketplace for caregivers and patients. Sebastian began his career at a British consultancy multinational firm, where he was responsible for human resource operations and strategic corporate advisory work (including change management, restructuring, and organizational assessment).  

Mary Auge

Director, Business Development

A business development leader with 15 years of life science technology commercialization experience and a passion for identifying and advancing innovative new product opportunities to improve patient care. Mary has extensive experience with the evaluation of life science technology, intellectual property, commercial viability, identifying target companies, marketing, and building relationships with external and internal stakeholders. This extensive experience come from being a Sr. Business Development Manager at Partners HealthCare Systems (Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital – teaching hospitals for Harvard Medical School) in Boston, MA. Recently, she was the Director of Research and Planning at Genesys Health System in Grand Blanc, MI in charge of vetting and planning the development of a regionally based Health Technology Innovation Institute and Science Park. Mary enjoys leading cross-functional teams to ensure a successful commercialization.

Kathy Weaver

Director, Special Projects

Kathy has over 30 years of experience in the health care industry. She has served in many different capacities throughout that time. She started her career as hospital nurse working for Johns Hopkins Hospital in their oncology center, performing patient care for adults with leukemia. She spent a decade working in the public sector for the State of Delaware leading a team of nurses and social workers completing eligibility for patients needing Long Term Care services, and building technology systems to support this work. In the early 2000’s she moved into the corporate space to work for Humana Inc. With Humana, Kathy continued to design technology systems for both clinical programs and provider connectivity. She was engaged in building innovation at Humana through joint ventures with the University of Miami, Pfizer and others. She was part of the core team that was the Humana start up that became Humana Europe, building clinical systems to support the work with the health economy in the United Kingdom. As the landscape changed in the health care industry with the passing of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Kathy dove into work with EMR and Population Health companies in order to build a connected health care ecosystem for all participants. She left Humana in 2015, but continued her work with population health program and system development as an executive at both WellCare and Centene Corp. Currently, she continues to pursue entrepreneurial activities that help build a stronger more connected health care system as an independent contractor.

Ian McClure

Technology Transfer Advisor

Ian McClure is the Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact for UK Innovate at the University of Kentucky (UK) where he leads efforts to translate UK discoveries for the public good, seek equitable returns on UK intellectual property, create innovative approaches to develop, fund and support opportunities for near-stage research, seek grant funding to enhance UK’s investments in innovation, and expand industry and other collaborative research programs with UK Research and in Kentucky more broadly.

He was Executive Director of the UK Office of Technology Commercialization where he oversaw UK’s innovation, IP and startup portfolios. Ian is an advisory board member for the Oak Ridge Institute, chair of IPwe’s Advisory Committee for University Technology Transfer, PI on two NIH grants, chair-elect for the AUTM Board of Directors, and is a co-founder of Kentucky Commercialization Ventures, a state-funded program to provide tech transfer services to any Kentucky public university without dedicated tech transfer resources. Ian began his career as a M&A and IP transactions attorney.

Adam Gifford

Neuroscientist, Data Scientist Advisor

Dr. Adam Gifford received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. His doctoral thesis focused on understanding the relations between neural oscillatory activity and the spectrotemporal regularities in acoustic stimuli known to be important for identifying and distinguishing between distinct sounds. Additionally, he studied how humans utilize learned prior information to categorize novel auditory stimuli. In the Department of Neurological Surgery, Dr. Gifford is completing his postdoctoral training in neuropsychology and neurophysiology. His research is focused on studying the cognitive and neural mechanisms involved in the control of movements during conflict – including assessing how these systems break down in neurodegenerative diseases compared to healthy aging adults – using statistical analyses of neural activity and computational modeling.

Ashok Seetharam

Biomedical Engineering Advisor

Ashok is the co-founder and COO of PAXAFE, an AI enabled supply chain technology startup that provides end-to-end real time visibility for B2B shipments. Prior to PAXAFE he co-founded two healthcare startups and served as it’s CTO for 4+ years. Ashok has experience in user-centric design, hardware/software product development, CAD/CAM, 3D printing, regulatory and supply chain and holds several patents in the healthcare space. He currently serves as an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Economic Growth Institute, University of Michigan and also as a mentor and coach at gener8tor and XLerateHealth accelerator programs.

Natalie Thurston

Reimbursement Advisor

Natalie is the Program Director for the XLeratorNetwork and has over two decades of reimbursement experience – working for both a large national health plan and for a national provider of molecular diagnostic laboratory services. For the large national insurance company, she managed a team of clinicians responsible for guiding members to a National Transplant Network and implemented a novel clinical program of nurse navigation for patients. During this time, Natalie developed a comprehensive understanding of insurance operations from claim submission through appeals and payment. Natalie’s experience with large payers enabled her to help life science startups develop their reimbursement strategy and obtain positive coverage decisions for products from both commercial and government payers e.g. Medicare and Medicaid. Natalie received a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Indiana University in Indianapolis and a Master’s in Business Administration from Indiana University Southeast. She also maintains a certification in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ).