Tom Denison - Founder & President
My passion is mentoring, advising, and funding biotech startups. I have engaged with hundreds of startups, at all stages, from concept to exit.
SmartHealth is discovering and activating extraordinary biotechnology being developed at Midwest Universities that solve mankind's greatest health problems. SmartHealth is located at the epicenter of the largest biotech cluster in the Midwest, at the doorstep of biotech and healthcare giants, including Abbott, AbbVie, Astellas, Baxter, Hollister, Horizon, Hospira/Pfizer, Lundbeck, Medline, Takeda, and Walgreens.
We build biotech startups combining ground breaking biotechnology being developed at Midwest universities with a startup team comprised of elite bioentrepreneurs and biotech experts each with 30+ years industry experience and expertise across drug, diagnostic and med device.
"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work," Daniel Burnham.
Gary Winer - Board Director
For over 20 years, Gary Winer has been proving his leadership abilities in the healthcare and
pharmaceutical industry on an international platform that includes such notable markets as the
United States, Latin America, Asia, and Japan. Over the years, Gary made significant leadership impact and increased revenues for such Fortune 100 Companies as AbbVie, Abbott Laboratories and Pfizer, helping launch and promote such notable brands as Humira and Celebrex.
In 2003, Abbott Laboratories contacted Mr. Winer to head their Latin America and Canadian diagnostic business unit worth $300 million as their Division Vice President. Based on his key successes in this position, Gary earned the opportunity to turn-around the slumping US Commercial Operations in 2007. After a significant assessment and reorganization of the sales force, Gary implemented a new, aggressive profitability strategy. Within 12 months, the $600 million business unit achieved a 20% year-over-year growth, signifying the highest performance gain in 10 years.
Thanks to his significant results in the US, Abbott elected Mr. Winer Corporate Vice President and President for Abbott Japan in 2009, exercising complete responsibility for the company’s largest affiliate outside the U.S. Over four years, Gary became an expert in the Japanese market, from the diverse cultural concerns to the bottom-line performance of the company. Along with generating impressive sales results, Gary led the company to three “Best Places to Work” recognition for three consecutive years (2010 – 2012). In 2013, Abbott separated the company's proprietary pharmaceutical business known as AbbVie, an 18-month conversion that Gary planned and executed in Japan. He continued to lead the AbbVie Japan operations as their President and CEO through 2014, before returning to the US for strategic planning at the corporate office.
Today, Gary offers his leadership abilities to other healthcare companies that want to achieve aggressive, sustainable growth while creating a positive corporate culture. With his extensive experience in international markets, he understands the key performance indicators, regulatory requirements and cultural sensitivity necessary to make gains in the global marketplace.
Sharon Ayd, Ph.D., MBA - Board Director
Sharon serves on the Industrial Advisory Board at Northwestern University, McCormick School of Engineering where she coordinates Co-Op programs between the University and Life Science companies. She is also on the National Advisory Board for the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Pharmacy, where she provides input into the Pharm.D. and Ph.D. curricula, as well as critical advice to the Dean in helping to maintain the College of Pharmacy’s premier standing in the US. She also serves on the Advisory Board to the Chicago Chapter of Women in BIO, a national organization of professionals committed to promoting careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship of women in the life sciences. Past boards she served on include the Political Action Committee at the Hospira Division (HSP: NYSE) of Pfizer and Women Advancing Bioscience where she was the Inaugural President and Founder.
Sharon was one of the 2016 inaugural group of 20 women to be selected for the” Boardroom Ready” Certification Program, at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is currently an adjunct professor and course instructor at Northwestern University, Pritzker School of Law where she teaches “Regulatory Compliance: Product Approval & Life Cycle Issues”. She is active in Illinois Biotechnology Organization “iBIOs” PROPEL Program, where she serves as Subject Matter Expert and New Venture Judge and in Chicago Innovation Mentors “CIM” where she mentors new ventures spinning out of Northwestern University, The University of Chicago and The University of Illinois. She was featured in I-Street’s “Women in Black” and she was awarded by Chicago Mayor Daley’s Technology Advisor as one of “I-Street’s Top 100 People Celebrating Outstanding High-Tech/Tech Leaders of Illinois”.
Sharon has built and led scientific/clinical/regulatory affairs organizations in four Fortune 100/multinational pharmaceutical/biotech companies. This has directly resulted in market launch of 50+ new drugs into the global market. She is currently Chief Science Officer & SVP, Pharmaceuticals at Regulatory Compliance Associates (RCA) where she leads a life science consultancy and oversees associates
Her career has spanned 36 years, starting in scientific research at Baxter Healthcare, and subsequently gaining executive experience in global pharmaceutical/biotech product development and market introduction at Apotex, Hospira (now Pfizer) and Fresenius-Kabi USA. She was a founding member/C-level of two spin out/startup biopharmaceutical firms. She has had direct interaction with Boards and has significant knowledge of corporate governance. She holds a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics from University of Illinois at Chicago and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from Lewis University.
Teddy Scott, Ph.D. - Board Director
Dr. Scott has served as the Chief Executive Officer of PharmaCann since its founding in 2015, where he utilizes his unique background in pharmaceutical research, intellectual property law, and entrepreneurship. Under his vision and leadership, PharmaCann has raised over $185M in capital and grown to over 275 full-time employees leading the institutionalization and acceptance of medical cannabis as a part of healthcare. PharmaCann currently operates three manufacturing sites and ten retail outlets in Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland, and is currently operationalizing additional manufacturing and dispensary sites in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Virginia.
In December 2018, PharmaCann entered into an agreement to be acquired by MedMen in a deal valued at $682 million. Upon closing, the resulting pro-forma company is anticipated to have a portfolio of cannabis licenses across the U.S. that will permit the combined company to operate over 76 retail stores and 16 cultivation and production facilities. The combined company will operate in 12 states, which comprise a total estimated addressable market, as of 2030, of approximately $40 billion according to Cowen Group.
Prior to founding PharmaCann, Dr. Scott was an equity shareholder at Polsinelli PC, an American Lawyer Top-100 law firm and recognized leader in healthcare law. At Polsinelli, he was co-chair of the firm’s Emerging Enterprises practice group, focusing on businesses in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics, and information technology industries. As a registered patent attorney, Dr. Scott’s practice focused on a wide variety of patent licensing matters and intellectual property issues.
Dr. Scott is on the Board of Advisors for the University of Chicago Innovation Fund, which invests in proof-of-concept and early business development work for viable new start-ups. He has also served as a mentor to companies based on technologies developed at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois. His mentorship has focused on the strategy, formation, initial capital raising and initial operational stages of technology businesses.
Dr. Scott obtained his law degree from Northwestern University with a focus on business law and is currently licensed in Illinois and California. Dr. Scott obtained his Ph.D. in molecular biophysics from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and his B.S. in biochemistry from Texas Tech University.
Steven Kuemmerle, PhD - Senior Advisor
Steve is currently Special Advisor, Innovation and Industry Partnerships Office of Research at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. Previously, Steve served as Senior Director, Industry Relations, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Chicago.
Steve joined UChicago in January 2013, where he has had leadership roles in technology licensing and commercialization, and more recently in heading Polsky Center’s corporate partnership initiatives. He shares senior staff responsibility for the Polsky Center goals of driving innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago and its surrounding community.
Steve has nearly three decades of healthcare industry experience. Most recently, as Head of Venture Investments, Abbott Biotech Ventures, Inc., he led the evaluation and execution of equity investments in emerging pharma companies. Before that, Steve served as a director in Abbott’s Global Pharma Licensing Group. Steve first joined Abbott in 1987, where he managed various clinical diagnostic R&D units before moving to the Pharmaceutical Division in 1997.
Steve received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Northwestern University. He serves as an advisor on various healthcare focused boards, and is Past-Chair of the Life Sciences Executive Committee for the Licensing Executive Society. Steve is a licensed airplane pilot, and enjoys hiking and sailing.