2014 Speakers

Portrait of Nicholas FrananoNicholas Franano

President & CEO, Flow Forward Medical and Metactive Medical

F. Nicholas Franano, MD is a physician, scientist, entrepreneur, inventor, and advisor. He is currently CEO of Flow Forward Medical, Inc. and Metactive Medical, Inc. Flow Forward is developing the Arteriovenous Fistula Eligibility (AFE) System, a temporary extracorporeal blood pump system that provides a controlled stimulus for flow-mediated dilation to precondition a vein before the creation of an vascular access site for hemodialysis, addressing a $2B market for increasing arteriovenous fistula eligibility and reducing maturation failure. Metactive is developing two products for an $800M peripheral embolization market, an over-the-wire device for closing cerebral aneurysms more quickly, completely, and durably (the Ballstent Microcatheter) and a similar device for peripheral arterial embolization (the Blockstent Microcatheter). Both Flow Forward and Metactive were spun out from Novita Therapeutics, a cardiovascular medical device incubator company that was founded by Dr. Franano, and where he served as CEO from 2009 – 2013, raising $10 million in capital.

Dr. Franano received an MD and a Master’s in Biomedical Research from Washington University, St. Louis and then completed a residency in Diagnostic Radiology and a fellowship in Interventional Radiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. From 2000 - 2006, Dr. Franano maintained an active clinical practice in interventional radiology, performing a wide range of vascular and non-vascular procedures. He has received numerous research awards, grants, and fellowships, has published many abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals. In 2009 he was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Central Midwest and a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.

Portrait of Jim SpencerJim Spencer

President & Founder, Newsy

Jim Spencer is the president and founder of Newsy, a multi-source video news service for the web, mobile devices and connected TV. Newsy was acquired by The E.W. Scripps Company in 2014.

Previously, Jim was VP of Content and Answers at Ask Jeeves (Ask.com) where he was responsible for all search queries. He helped guide the company to be the 15th most trafficked website, and through a successful IPO. Prior to Ask Jeeves, Jim was the GM of News and Information Programming at AOL (news, sports, health, research and international) — advancing the content, business and partnership operations for one of AOL’s major business units.

Jim holds a Bachelor’s degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a Master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism.

Portrait of Gabor ForgacsGabor Forgacs

Chief Scientific Officer, Modern Meadow

Dr. Gabor Forgacs is a theoretical physicist turned bioengineer turned innovator and entrepreneur. He is the scientific founder of Organovo and Chief Scientific Officer of Modern Meadow. Trained as a theoretical physicist at the Roland Eotvos University, Budapest, Hungary and the Landau Institute of Theoretical Physics, Moscow, USSR, he also holds a degree in biology. His research interests span from topics in theoretical physics to physical mechanisms in early embryonic development.

Dr. Forgacs is the co-author of the celebrated text in the field, “Biological Physics of the Developing Embryo” (Cambridge University Press, 2005) that discusses the fundamental morphogenetic mechanisms evident in early development. These mechanisms are being applied to building living structures of prescribed shape and functionality using bioprinting, a novel tissue engineering technology he pioneered. He is the author of over 160 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 5 books. Dr. Forgacs has been recognized by numerous awards and citations. In particular, he was named as one of the “100 most innovative people in business in 2010” by FastCompany.

Modern Meadow’s scientific team pioneered some of the technologies behind medical tissue engineering and invented a tissue engineering technique based on bioprinting, the 3D assembly of tissues driven by computer controlled processes. Their tissue engineering allows culturing of leather and meat without requiring the raising, slaughtering and transporting of animals.

Portrait of Steve O'ConnorSteve O’Connor

Founder & CEO, ImpeDx Diagnostics

Dr. Steve O’Connor has been leading technology start-ups since 1992. After receiving his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, he led technology focused companies in a variety of sectors including diagnostics, drug discovery, and water treatment. During his career he has raised over $120 million for his various companies, serving as CEO, CSO, Chairman, and more.

In 1995, he co-founded Clinical Micro Sensors based on a Caltech technology that developed the world’s first electronic DNA detection system based on AC signal processing, which was acquired by Motorola in 2000. In 1999, he founded Nanostream, which developed and marketed a microfluidic parallel chromatography system for pharmaceutical development. Through this experience, along with many others, he has gained significant experience in technology development, intellectual property, fundraising, business partnering, and company building.

His latest endeavor, ImpeDx Diagnostics, is developing a product that addresses rapid blood culture for hospital testing labs and is based on a technology licensed by the University of Missouri. The device significantly reduces the time to detect viable bacteria in blood cultures and thus promises to improve the outcomes and reduce healthcare costs in the management of sepsis- a sever blood infection that kills more people annually than breast and lung cancer combined.