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Kevin Wasserstein, Founder & CEO
Kevin co-founded the NIT with Dr. Rezai, after a distinguished career spanning over 20 years in venture capital and operating roles specializing in building medical device companies from concept to commercialization. Kevin brings an experienced and practiced hand to NIT, with roles spanning investment and board leadership, executive leadership, engineering, business development, and marketing. Prior to founding NIT, Kevin founded MentorCatalyst to pursue his passion for MedTech company-building and for working intimately with entrepreneurs with a craftsman-styled approach to working with startup MedTech teams, deeply engaging on a select few startup medical device companies, providing comprehensive leadership and guidance. Prior to NIT and MentorCatalyst, Kevin spent eleven years as a Managing Director at Versant Ventures where he focused on investing in and building early stage medical device companies, and participated in the Firm’s investments in over 100 healthcare companies across 3 different investment funds, with investment allocations of over $1.1 B in capital. Kevin currently serves, or has served, in board or advisory roles with companies which include Acclarent (acquired: Johnson & Johnson), Autonomic Technologies, Cereve, Eargo, LipoSonix (acquired: Medicis), Lutonix (acquired: Bard), Microfabrica, Neoguide Systems (acquired: Intuitive Surgical), Oculeve (acquired: Allergan), Respicardia, Rox Medical, Second Sight Medical (NASDAQ: EYES), St. Francis Medical (acquired: Kyphon), and The Innovation Factory.
Kevin previously held numerous operating leadership roles, including marketing and business development at Guidant Corporation, business development at Heartstream, and engineering development and management at Hughes Aircraft Company. Kevin holds both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in product design, as well as an MBA, all from Stanford University.
Ali Rezai, MD, Founder & Chief of Science
Ali is an internationally-renowned neurosurgeon and a prolific innovator who is widely considered to be a pioneer in brain pacemakers and neuromodulation clinical applications. Ali is a board certified neurosurgeon, Professor of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience, the Executive Chair and Vice President for Neurosciences at WVU Medicine, and the Director of the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute. His academic record includes over 160 publications, 40 book chapters, and over 500 presentations. He is the editor of two books and on the editorial board of 7 journals. Ali has been PI and Co-I on eight NIH grants and is the PI of the State of Ohio NIT grant. In addition, he was the Past President of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS), and the American Society of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (ASSFN).
Ali holds 37 issued U.S. patents plus over 50 other applications pending for medical devices and technologies, was a founder of both Intelect Medical and Autonomic Technologies, and has participated in multiple additional neurotechnology start-up companies including Surgivision, MRI Interventions, and Cardionomics.
Ben Tranchina, VP Research & Development
Ben has more than 20 years of experience in business leadership, including engineering, innovation and product development teams in both start-ups and large multi-national corporations, with particular expertise in neurotechnology. Most recently, Ben was CEO of Ardent Biomedical, a specialty strategic and technical advisory practice dedicated to the commercialization of innovative therapeutic and diagnostic medical device solutions. Previously, Ben held broad leadership roles at Incube Group, including within in its suite of Class II and Class III medical technology companies at Incube Labs, as well as within InCube Ventures, which directed over $100M in funding to its companies. Prior to InCube, Ben spent 9 years within St. Jude Medical, ultimately serving as St. Jude Medical’s Vice President of Product Development, where he was responsible for the entire Neuromodulation Division’s product line, including oversight of the product’s regulatory compliance, advanced manufacturing processes, program management, and design control quality systems. Under Ben’s leadership, the Company substantially improved its innovation and development capability, tripling the annual number of first-to-market products. Earlier in his career Ben was a founder and principal in several entrepreneurial ventures spanning the medical, semiconductor, integrated circuit and radio astronomy industries, and proudly served in the U.S. Navy.
Ben is a recognized innovator, with contribution to over a dozen US patents for medical devices and technologies, and was named St. Jude Medical’s Inventor of the Year for NeuroDynamix™, a technology platform that grew to be responsible for greater than 70% of annual revenues and more than $1.2B total revenues from 2010 - 2014. Ben holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Electrical Engineering, specializing in Microelectronic Circuits and Systems, from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Christian Hobbs, CFO
Chris has over 20 years of experience as an investor in and advisor to early stage companies. Over the course of his career he has split his time between doing corporate development for public companies, and executive operations/finance roles for emerging companies. He has negotiated and structured a variety of financial and IP transactions.
Chris was the COO of Netbooks, a pioneering SaaS ERP system for small businesses. Previously, he was the VP Corporate Development at Teletech (NASDAQ:TTEC), a leading business process outsourcing company. He led finance and operations at XUMA, and was a First Vice President at Imperial Bank.
Chris earned his BA in Economics at UC Berkeley and an MBA at Oxford University.