Wisconsin Biohealth Awards

Celebrating achievements in the biohealth and life science industry

Wisconsin Biohealth Awards

In 2015, BioForward launched the tradition of recognizing, on an annual basis, scientific and business achievements in the biohealth and life science industry. In the ninth year of the awards, BioForward is excited to continue recognizing this leadership and innovation that has brought Wisconsin to be among the top leaders in health solutions.

Awards designed by local artisan Tim Killinger Design LLC

Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

The award sculpture is inspired by Hector DeLuca’s life work with Vitamin D. It is an abstract of the scientific 2D molecular structure for Vitamin D. When viewed from multiple angles, the “strands” that connect to the hexagrams in the 2D structure start to link and become more apparent to the eye. The overall visual complexity the 2D molecular structure creates is now simplified for the audience.

The materials used create the necessary contrast for the function of the award. The machined aluminum structure embodies the potential brand of this important award by allowing it to become easily recognizable in the science industry. The glass maintains the visual lightness and reduces the visual noise that would be created by other materials. The engraved inscription draws the viewer’s eye into the heart of the award. Hector DeLuca was the first recipient.

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

The award sculpture is inspired by the seed of invention and discovery. The center sphere is polished to represent the preciousness and the simplicity of the seed. The inner wood circle cradles the seed as it would in nature, but is vulnerable enough to allow it to find gaps and grow. It represents human wisdom to protect the idea without suffocating it in a vacuum. The organic aluminum forms create a solid but malleable structure that allows the seed and cradle to be protected. This represents the business side of the sculpture.

The seed is strong and will find a way to stretch but not break this structure. Again, where there are gaps in business, the seed is protected by wisdom. Like the inner wood circle, the pedestal base wood material is the human wisdom that integrates its lines into the metal forms. This provides a platform for the inscription of the award recipient, the year received and the organization recognizing this important achievement.

2023 Awardees:

Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Thomas Grist

Thomas Grist

Professor and Chair, Department of Radiology, UW School of Medicine and Public Health

I am currently the John H. Juhl Professor of Radiology, Medical Physics and Bioengineering and Chair of the Department of Radiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am a Cardiovascular Imaging Radiologist with more than 30 years of experience in using novel imaging technologies to improve human health in patients with cardiovascular disorders. Clinically I have performed and interpreted thousands of CTA’s and MRA’s for cardiovascular diagnosis, including pulmonary studies developed in this proposal. I have developed many novel imaging techniques, especially in cardiovascular MRI, to improve our ability to diagnose and treat disease. I co-developed the 3D TRICKS (3D Time Resolved Imaging of Contrast Kinetics) MRA technique that is used to diagnose vascular disease at many centers around the world. I have developed and applied methods for contrast-enhanced and non-contrast MR imaging for anatomic and functional evaluation of vascular disease, including the accelerated 4D flow MRA. Likewise, I was instrumental in developing and disseminating high-resolution steady-state contrast agents and MRA techniques.  I am currently an co-investigator on two R-01 grants in Cardiovascular imaging, applying DL reconstruction in Cardiac MRI and Pulmonary CTA.

As Department Chair and Principal Investigator on our UW/GE partnership, I have worked to bring state-of-the-art technology in CT, PET/CT, MRI, Ultrasound, X-ray and MRI PET to the University of Wisconsin Imaging Sciences Center within the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research. I recruit, develop, and retain talented faculty and staff with the goal to leverage our imaging research resources and advanced imaging techniques to improve human health. I have worked together with current and former Medical Physics Department Chairs and Deans of the School of Medicine and Public Health to successfully recruit and retain the co-investigators, Prof. Guang-Hong Chen, in his tenure with UW-Madison. Since his early career at UW-Madison, we have been working closely to develop his X-ray and CT research program, to establish the current strong partnership between his research team and industrial partners such GE, Siemens, Hologic to translate his cutting-edge technologies into clinical care. I am also responsible for the recruitments of informatics experts to establish the AI research infrastructure at the Department of Radiology.

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Chris Miskel

Chris Miskel

CEO & President- Versiti

Chris became president and CEO of Versiti on Feb. 1, 2017, after a 20+ year career exclusively in healthcare. He is first and foremost a patient and donor advocate, while also passionate about the employee experience of 2,200 Versiti colleagues across multiple states. Chris and his leadership team have built a One Versiti culture, stoked the flame of innovation both organically and inorganically, invested in infrastructure, established Ohio as a fifth Versiti state, and led the organization to approximately $400M in annual revenue.

Prior to joining Versiti, Chris served as group vice president and global immunology franchise head at Shire, helping to bring medicine to patients around the world and shaping the strategy for a $2.5 billion biopharmaceutical franchise. In his previous role at Baxalta, he was vice president of plasma strategy and new product development. Chris also worked for Baxter International as vice president of U.S. bioscience national accounts and spent 17 years with Eli Lilly and Company, most recently as general manager of their Australia and New Zealand operation.

Chris earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School in 2000 and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Butler University in 1996. He was also a three-year starter on Butler’s basketball team and named an Academic All-American in 1995.

In June 2021, Chris joined the Butler University Board of Trustees. He was also appointed to the Board of Directors of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG) in March 2020, elected to the Medical College of Wisconsin Board in 2018, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Blood Centers of America.

Chris and his wife Nicole live in Whitefish Bay, WI, and stay busy with their three children Sage, Mace and Crew.

Past Awardees:


Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

James Cook

Dr. James Cook is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). He received a BS in Chemistry with Honors from West Virginia University in 1967. He received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry working with Professor Phillip LeQuesne at The University of Michigan from 1968-1971. In 1973, he joined the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as an Assistant Professor in Organic Chemistry and was promoted to University Distinguished Professor in 2002. He is a leading expert in GABA-A receptor drug targeting and has published over 550 papers in the fields of Natural Products, Medicinal Chemistry, and Organic Synthesis. He is the recipient of the UW-System Innovator Award and the UW-Milwaukee Innovator Award and has filed over 90 patents, many of which have been issued. As the original designer of the GABAkines licensed to RespireRx Pharmaceuticals, his group synthesized a series of benzodiazepine subtype-selective agents for pharmaco-resistant epilepsy and chronic pain that are devoid of tolerance, sedation, and ataxia in preclinical tests to circumvent the opioid epidemic. He also cofounded Promentis Pharmaceuticals with Dr. David Baker and Dr. John Mantsch at Marquette University, which has a drug in Phase II clinical trials for the chronic mental illness Trichotillomania. His research collaboration with Dr. Etienne Sibille and Dr. Tom Prevot at The Center for Addiction and Brain Health at the University of Toronto has led to licensing alpha5 selective agents to a startup company (Damona Pharmaceuticals) with investment funds targeted toward depression and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Nancy Kendrick

Dr. Kendrick received a B.S. in Biology from Illinois State University, followed by a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Washington University in St. Louis (1973) under Dr. Garland Marshall, Department of Physiology. Her thesis focused on solid phase peptide synthesis with the goal of creating a model for the neuronal action potential. During that time she absorbed considerable information about protein chemistry including structure-function relationships. Nancy did postdoctoral research studying calcium transport in synaptosomes with Dr. Mordicai Blaustein at Washington University in St Louis and studying vitamin D-dependent calcium transport in intestine with Dr. Hector DeLuca at the University of Wisconsin, Department of Biochemistry. The scientific overview and rigor acquired in her academic years was useful in developing a business.

Nancy started Kendrick Labs in her basement as a 2D electrophoresis service for scientists at the University of Wisconsin and incorporated in 1987. Now a Contract Research Organization that serves pharma, biotech and university scientists world-wide, Kendrick Labs, Inc. occupies about 5000 sq ft of lab/office space. The infrastructure of the business is strong and includes >100 written SOPs (standard operating procedures) for technical procedures, instrument calibrations, and Quality Assurance.



Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Fred T. Lee Jr., MD

Dr. Lee Jr. is a Professor of Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Urology, The Robert A. Turrell Professor of Imaging Science, and Chief, Abdominal Intervention at the University of Wisconsin Department of Radiology.  Dr. Lee has special interests in cancer imaging and interventions with an emphasis on percutaneous tumor ablation. As an early pioneer in the field, he established the tumor ablation laboratory at Wisconsin in 1995, one of the first of its type in the world. His work has resulted in over 250 scientific publications, 22 book chapters, greater than 60 major awards, including multiple “Best Doctor” awards, 25 patents and inventions, and substantial federal and industrial grant support. The UW Clinical Tumor Ablation Program draws patients from all over the world to Madison for cancer treatment.  He is an inventor of two of the world’s most widely applied tumor ablation devices used for cure, prolongation of life, or relief of symptoms in over 50,000 cancer patients. Another of his inventions was recently designated as a Breakthrough Device by the FDA. Dr. Lee is a founder of two venture-backed medical device companies: Elucent Medical, Inc., and NeuWave Medical Inc., a University of Wisconsin spin-off company which sold to Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson) in 2016, and is a board member and Senior Medical Advisor for Histosonics, Inc., a University of Michigan spin-off company.

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Terry Sivesind

Mr. Sivesind is an established entrepreneurial business leader whose career in biotechnology started as one of the early employees at Promega.   After leaving Promega to help start PanVera Corporation, Terry was a co-founder in a series of biotech companies including MirusBio, TakaraBio USA, Metabiologics, Renovar, and Cellectar.  He also co-founded Wisconsin Investment Partners, MERLIN Mentors, MadWorks Seed Business Accelerator, and StartingBlock Madison, entrepreneurial support groups that are all still in operation today providing resources to the Wisconsin start-up community. Terry created the Silver Lining Foundation to provide grassroots donations to entrepreneurs and local residents who are in need of assistance. 



Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Dr. Mary Horowitz

Dr. Horowitz joined the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) in 1985 and has served as its Chief Scientific Director since 1991.  Dr. Horowitz is also the Research Director for the Stem Cell Therapeutic Outcomes Database of the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program and Principal Investigator of the Data and Coordinating Center of the National Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network. She holds the Robert A. Uihlein Professorship for Hematologic Research at Medical College of Wisconsin and has previously served as Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology in MCW’s Department of Medicine.  Dr. Horowitz has served on numerous NIH review and advisory committees and has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1991. She has co-authored more than 400 peer-reviewed publications.

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Dr. James Weber

Dr. James Weber founded PreventionGenetics in 2004 with a vision of “disease prevention through genetic testing.” An internationally-acclaimed research scientist, Dr. Weber was a major contributor to The Human Genome Project. His discovery of Short Tandem Repeat Polymorphisms (microsatellites) and the creation of the Marshfield Maps of the human genome was a significant advance in human genetics. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications.  In 1986, Dr. Weber joined Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation where he was a senior research scientist, director of the Center for Medical Genetics, and Director of the National Institutes of Health-funded Mammalian Genotyping Service. 


Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Dr. Thomas “Rock” Mackie

“Rock” Mackie has a BSc in Physics (1980) from the University of Saskatchewan and a Ph.D. in Physics (1984) from the University of Alberta. In 1987, he left Canada and came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and became a full professor in 1998 in the Department of Medical Physics. He was at the UW-Madison for 22 years and supervised more than 40 Ph.D. students, co-authored more than 180 peer-reviewed publications and an inventor on 50 US patents. He has been a UW Professor Emeritus since 2012 and an Emeritus Investigator at the Morgridge Institute for Research since 2015.

Rock Mackie has co-founded several not-for-profit and for-profit organizations.  He is a co-founder and Chairman of the Board for the Center for the Assessment of Radiological Sciences (CARS), a not-for-profit organization supporting quality in radiation oncology and radiology. He was a co-founder of the Advocacy Consortium for Entrepreneurs (ACE), an independent association of faculty, staff and trainees promoting academic entrepreneurship at the UW-Madison. ACE merged with WiSolve an organization of entrepreneurial graduate student and post-doctoral trainees that also provide business consulting services. In 1992, he co-founded Geometrics Corporation to develop the Pinnacle radiotherapy treatment planning system based on 3D CT scans, which originated from his clinical and research work. Now owned by Philips Medical Corporation, it was once the largest selling radiation therapy treatment planning system in the world. In 1997, Rock co-founded TomoTherapy in 1997, a CT image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy company and was its Chairman of the Board from founding to IPO and on to sale to Accuray Corporation in 2011.

He is a co-founder and Chairman of the Board of several companies including HealthMyne, a company mining data from medical images, Asto CT, a veterinary CT scanner company, OnLume a fluorescent-guided surgery company, and Linectra a metal additive manufacturing company. He is also a board member of Shine Medical Technologies and BioIonix. Dr. Mackie is now the Chief Innovation Officer at UW Health and the Director of the Isthmus Project, an innovation and commercialization initiative of UW Health and UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Laura Johnson Douglass

Laura Johnson Douglass has over 30 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry across multiple disciplines including research & development and operations.  Ms. Douglass founded and serves as President and CEO of both Eufaeria Biosciences, a specialty biotech company that identifies and develops technologies for emergency and military medicine applications, and Next Generation Clinical Research, a specialized contract research organization focusing on rare diseases and critical care therapeutics. Next Generation celebrates 20 years in business this year.  As a serial entrepreneur pursuing her love of animals, Ms. Douglass recently founded Harmony Hill Farm Sanctuary, a non-profit farm sanctuary in Illinois, providing a forever home to neglected, abandoned or homeless farm animals.

Ms. Douglass is a Founding Director of SbBancorp, Inc. and Settlers bank. She is also involved as a board member at Odonate Therapeutics, La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company, and several other biotech companies as a business advisory board member. Previously, Ms. Douglass has held roles as Director of Clinical Operations at Hazleton Laboratories (now Covance) and Director of Clinical Affairs & Research at Bone Care International (now Sanofi Genzyme). In 2008 and 2010, she was honored as a biotech entrepreneur by the national organization, Women in Bio, and in 2008 received the Rising Star Award by the Wisconsin Biotech and Medical Device Association. Her company, Next Generation Clinical Research, was the recipient of the 2009 Dane County Small Business Award.

Ms. Douglass earned a Nursing degree from the University of New York and has additional training in Pharmacology and Business from the University of Wisconsin. She also obtained certification in Adult Education from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and is a licensed education provider of the California Board of Registered Nursing. 


Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Allen Cowley, Jr., PhD

Allen W. Cowley, Jr. has been a Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin since 1980.  Dr. Cowley is an international leader in cardiovascular research and has made seminal observations that have advanced our understanding of hypertension.

As the Chair of Physiology, Dr. Cowley has forged the development and integration of genomics, bioinformatics, computational biology and physiology to address questions of clinical importance.  Under his leadership, the Department has ranked nationally in the top 1-3 for NIH funding among all medical school physiology departments.  This strong research program, in turn, spawned the creation of the MCW Cardiovascular Center, the Human Molecular Genetics Center (now known as the Genomic Sciences and Precision Medicine Center), and the Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology Center (now the new Department of Biomedical Engineering).

As a member of the Advisory Council of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH, he spearheaded efforts which resulted in the investment of more than $100 million for the development of the needed infrastructure to link genes to complex physiological functions and diseases (Programs of Genomic Applications).  As President of the American Physiological Society, he was responsible for the launching in 1999 of the journal of Physiological Genomics in a determined effort to unite the genomic and physiological sciences in the identification of functional relevance of genomic research.  Dr. Cowley also has served as President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences and Chair of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Council for High Blood Pressure Research.

Dr. Cowley has received many awards and honors recognizing his work including MCW’s Distinguished Service Award, multiple honorary doctorates, and awards from the American Physiological Society, the American Heart Association, the NIH,  the American Heart Association, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology. 

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Kevin Conroy

Kevin Conroy is chairman and chief executive officer of Exact Sciences Corporation. Exact Sciences is focused on the early detection and prevention of cancer, establishing a new standard for colon cancer screening with its noninvasive, advanced DNA screening test, Cologuard.

Before joining Exact Sciences, Mr. Conroy served as president and chief executive officer of Third Wave Technologies, a molecular diagnostics company, until the company’s acquisition by Hologic, Inc. Previously, he served as intellectual property counsel at GE Healthcare and in private practice.

Mr. Conroy serves as a director of the biopharmaceutical company Epizyme, Inc. (Nasdaq: EPZM). He serves on the board of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and has previously served as Chair of United Way of Dane County’s campaign and on the boards of Wisconsin Technology Council, BioForward and Overture Center Foundation.

A native of Michigan, Mr. Conroy earned his Juris Doctorate from University of Michigan Law School and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Michigan State University. He is married to Shelia Conroy and has three daughters, Meghan, Grace, and Molly.


Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Dr. B. Lynn Allen-Hoffmann

Ph.D. from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Dr. Allen-Hoffmann was a Damon-Runyon Walter-Winchell Postdoctoral Fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School where she studied human keratinocyte growth and differentiation.

She is a tenured, full Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Surgery at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. She is internationally recognized for her innovative research and clinical development of human skin replacements including the world’s first genetically-enhanced human skin replacements. The NIKS cells, discovered in her UW laboratory, are a consistent source of genetically uniform, non-tumorigenic, pathogen free human keratinocytes amenable to genetic manipulation.

As a result of the discovery in her laboratory, Dr. Allen-Hoffmann founded Stratatech Corporation to deliver cell-based therapies to patients with complex skin loss. She has received numerous state and national awards and is the first woman at the UW to start a biotechnology company. Dr. Allen-Hoffmann has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed publications and patents. Stratatech received a 2016 Tibbitts Award which was accepted by Dr. Allen-Hoffmann at a White House ceremony. Stratatech Corporation was acquired by Mallinckrodt Specialty Pharmaceuticals on August 31, 2016.

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Cynthia LaConte

With a vision of creating a more efficient, effective and easy to use health experience by more closely connecting drug and device companies with the patients they serve, Cynthia has transformed Dohmen from regional pharmaceutical wholesaler to nationally recognized BPO (business process outsourcer) and software provider for the life science industry. Since stepping into the role of CEO in 2009, Cynthia has grown the company to over 1000 employees, working from over one million square feet of space located in seven states. Dohmen has achieved a year over year growth rate of 57% and today processes billions of dollars in transactions as the trusted partner to hundreds of drug and device companies ranging in size from start up to fortune 500.

In 2008, Cynthia also founded the Dohmen Company Foundation as a way to make tangible Dohmen’s legacy of caring commitment. Each year a percentage of Dohmen’s profits fund the Foundation and its mission to connect people in need with lifesaving healthcare products and services. Since inception, the Foundation has contributed more than $10 million dollars to this objective, positively affecting over 123 million lives.


Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Dr. James Thomson

Dr. James Thomson has conducted pioneering work on the isolation and culture of human pluripotent stem cells — undifferentiated cells that can proliferate without limit and have the ability to become any of the differentiated cells of the body.

Dr. Thomson directed the group that reported the first isolation of embryonic stem cell lines from a nonhuman primate in 1995, work that led his group to the first successful isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines in 1998. In 2007, Dr. Thomson’s lab reported (concurrently with Dr. Shinya Yamanaka) the first isolation of human induced pluripotent stem cells — cells that have the basic properties of human embryonic stem cells but are derived from somatic cells rather than human embryos. The derivation of human embryonic stem cells and the later derivation of human induced pluripotent stem cells were both deemed “Breakthroughs of the Year” by Science magazine.

Dr. Thomson is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received many awards and honors recognizing his work. In addition to his scientific contributions, Dr. Thomson has also contributed to the growth of the local biotechnology industry through his founding of Cellular Dynamics International, Inc. (CDI) in 2004. CDI has played an innovative role in industrializing the process of manufacturing human cells in large quantities as tools in drug discovery, toxicity testing, regenerative medicine applications, and stem cell banking.

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Ralph Kauten

Ralph Kauten serves as Chairman and CEO of Lucigen Corporation. He also serves on the Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards for companies in the biotechnology, healthcare, banking and manufacturing industries.

Mr. Kauten has been instrumental in incorporating commercial thinking and direction in collaboration with scientific teams. He has helped shape the purpose, vision, values, and strategy for a number of Wisconsin biotechnology companies.

His involvement in biotechnology started in 1979 at Promega Corporation, followed by involvement with PanVera Corporation, Mirus Bio Corporation, Quintessence Biosciences, Inc. and Lucigen Corporation.

Mr. Kauten holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BBA from the University of Iowa.


Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Hector F. DeLuca 

Hector is former chairman of the University’s Biochemistry Department. He is well known for his discovery of the vitamin D-basedendocrine system and the development of 8 pharmaceuticals used worldwide. He was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1979. Hector has trained almost 160 graduate students and has more than 700 patents to his name. In addition, DeLuca is president and CEO of Deltanoid Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company founded on technology he developed, and has been responsible for the development of Bone Care, Int. (acquired by Genzyme) and Tetrionics (now Sigma Aldrich Fine Chemicals acquired by Merck).

Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Bill Linton

Bill Linton founded Promega in 1978 and has served continuously as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. A life science research company, Promega has grown from one employee to a global corporation, employing over 1,300 people worldwide. Today, Promega serves customers in over 100 countries, with direct sales and manufacturing branches in 16 countries. Initially supporting university researchers, Promega now serves scientists in basic research, drug discovery, forensics and clinical diagnostics. The company continues to be privately held with revenues of $380 million.

Learn more about the 2022 Wisconsin Biohealth Summit.