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 as well as 2+ years working for a Humana Startup in the United Kingdom. Since leaving Humana in 2009 Jackie has worked with 100+ startups. Jackie was trained by Steve Blank in his ‘Lean Launchpad Educators Class’ at Stanford University 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 works 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 a 3-year NIH funded program to create the XLeratorNetwork in the Southeast IDeA States and also sits on the External Review Board (ERB) for the NIH funded KYNETIC program. 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. 

Natalie Thurston

Reimbursement Lead

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).

Vera Anderson

IT Director

Vera is a certified specialist in Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (SAP) working in the technical field of relational databases and data management systems and has 12+ years of experience in technology commercialization. Prior to XLerateHealth, Vera served as a Senior Licensing and Business Development Associate at Missouri University of Science & Technology (MS&T) where she developed complex commercialization and marketing strategies for patentable technologies. Vera is an entrepreneur herself, and is the CEO and Founder of innoVEK, LLC. Vera’s educational background includes a law degree, an MBA, and Master’s degree in Information Science and Technology.

Sebastian Alvim

Program Director

Sebastian is the COO of MyNurse, a European digital marketplace that enables patients and families to easily find and select in-home health care professionals in real time. As COO, he is leading the internationalization of the company to the US market running now operation in Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan. Responsible for the brand recognition and effectiveness for better home healthcare services, in 2018, MyNurse was named the most innovative caregiving solution by Accelerate Michigan. In is own words: MyNurse is a digital tool to empower families and healthcare providers. Beginning his career at a British consultancy multinational, he became knowledgeable about all areas of human resources operations and strategic corporate advisory, 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.

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.