Leadership Team

R . Brian McKernan

CEO, Director

Brian is the CEO and co-founder of Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc. Previously, Brian was a co-founder and CEO of Agencourt Bioscience. As CEO of Agencourt, Brian helped create one of the most successful DNA sequencing companies in the world, before selling the company to Beckman Coulter in 2005. Later in 2005, Brian co-founded Agencourt Personal Genomics (APG), a technology startup focused on delivering SOLiD, a cutting edge next generation sequencing technology, which he and his team sold to ABI, Applied Biosytems, in 2006.

Previous to his work at Agencourt and the life sciences industry, Brian co-founded Structured Markets, Inc., an online financial exchange, where he served as Executive Vice President of Business Development. Brian also worked at General Re, where he designed and implemented the business plan for the Enterprise Risk and Capital Management Consulting practice of its wholly owned subsidiary, New England Asset Management. While at General Re, Brian worked closely with the CFO and CEO on corporate finance, M&A, and Board related matters, in addition to marketing complex derivative instruments to financial services companies. Prior to this, Brian was a manager at Deloitte Consulting Group, where he managed strategic and re-engineering projects for clients in the life sciences, food distribution, petro-chemical, insurance, and healthcare industries.

Brian holds an M.B.A. in Finance from Columbia Business School and a B.A. from Bucknell University with a concentration in Computer Science and Business Management. Brian is a Board Member of ALDA (Analytical Life Science & Diagnostics Association).

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Brendan L. McKernan

President, Director

Brendan is President and co-founder of Courtagen Life Sciences Inc. Previously, Brendan was a co-founder of Agencourt Bioscience Corporation and Agencourt Personal Genomics. Until both firms were acquired, he was a board member and the Vice President of Operations. In this capacity, he oversaw the implementation and execution of the company's operational strategy.

Massachusetts-based Agencourt Biosciences Corporation was a leading provider of nucleic acid purification products and genomic services for life science research. Agencourt Bioscience was acquired by Beckman Coulter in 2005. Massachusetts-based Agencourt Personal Genomics developed the SOLiD sequencing platform that was acquired by Life Technology in 2006.

Brendan holds a BS in Management Science from Muhlenberg College and an MBA from Rensselaer's Lally School of Management and Technology. While at Rensselaer, McKernan received the Delmar W. Karger Award in Management for outstanding academic and leadership achievements. In 2006 Brendan was named the William F. Glaser '53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year.

Brendan is also the Co-Vice Chairman of the Board and Treasurer at the Avon Old Farms School where he serves as Chairman of the Finance, Audit, and Benefits Committees. He is also a member of the advisory council for Rensselaer's Lally School of Management and a judge for the Lemelson Program, which celebrates and supports inventors and entrepreneurs in order to strengthen social and economic life. In addition, Brendan is a member of Boston Harbor Angels where he serves on the Life Science Screening Committee.

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Kevin McKernan

Chief Scientific Officer

Kevin is the CSO of Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc. Prior to joining Courtagen, Kevin was the founder and CEO of Medicinal Genomics Corporation. Medicinal Genomics has pioneered the genomics of cannabis and hemp to build a stronger scientific environment for the study of cannabis based therapeutics and hemp based fiber, food and fuels. In December of 2011, Medicinal Genomics Corporation was acquired by Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc.

Previously, Kevin held the position of Vice President and Director of R&D of Life Technologies where he managed the development of Life Technologies next generation SOLiD sequencing technology. Integral to the SOLiD R&D process, Kevin oversaw over 100 research collaborations exploring the new biological frontiers with next generation sequencing and saw particular excitement and traction in human tumor sequencing. Kevin initiated an R&D project to investigate chemFET semiconductor based DNA sequencing and spearheaded a process to acquire the DNA sequencing company, Ion Torrent, for $350M. These collaborations resulted in hundreds of publications and seven journal covers from Science Translational Medicine to Nature.

Kevin was the President and CSO of Agencourt Personal Genomics, a startup company he co-founded in 2005 to invent revolutionary sequencing technologies that dropped the cost of sequencing a human genome from $300M to $3,000; a 100,000-fold improvement in sequencing speed and cost in a few years. Kevin oversaw the growth and research of APG which was sold it to ABI in 2006. In 2000, Kevin co-founded Agencourt Biosciences Corporation and acted as the CSO until 2005 when it was acquired by Beckman Coulter who had an expressed interest in nucleic acid testing and blood diagnostics. From 1996 to 2000, Kevin managed the Research and Development for the Human Genome Project at Whitehead Institute/MIT which resulted in several patents for nucleic acid purification. Kevin holds a B.S. in Biology from Emory University with a focus on cloning and expressing Norepinephrine Transporters.

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Matthew J. Parisi

Vice President, Operations

Prior to joining Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc., Matt was the Director of Operations at Beckman Coulter Genomics, formerly Agencourt Bioscience. Matt’s role at Beckman included managing and leading the production, customer support, quality, and supply chain organizations. Matt led the team to adopt ISO 13485-quality system and was the driving force to ensure that the lean manufacturing principles on which Agencourt was founded continued to remain best practice. Matt was also responsible for designing and implementing LIMS and ERP Systems.

Prior to joining Agencourt, Matt worked at the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research (now the Broad Institute) as an associate on the Quality and Materials Team. Matt holds a B.S. in Biology from Boston College.

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Jeff Forward, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

Jeff joined Courtagen Life Sciences Inc. as CFO in April 2013. Jeff worked with the many members of the management team at Courtagen previously as the Controller and Finance Integration Manager of Agencourt Bioscience. Jeff joined the Agencourt team when Beckman Coulter acquired Agencourt in 2005 and led the integration efforts of the two companies.

Prior to joining Courtagen, Jeff was Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Operations at World Triathlon Corporation. In this capacity, Jeff worked closely with the CEO, Private Equity sponsor and the Board on strategic growth initiatives.  He also led corporate development efforts including acquisitions, divestitures and strategic partnerships and designed KPI measurement tools for the organization.

Jeff’s other experience includes working at Ernst & Young both advising Private Equity and Corporate clients on M&A related activities and performing financial statement audits for public and privately held corporations. Additionally, Jeff worked at Beckman Coulter in the SEC reporting group and was responsible for preparing the 10K, 10Q and other SEC filings.

Jeff received a Masters of Science in Accountancy from the University of Notre Dame and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Bentley University. Jeff is a certified public accountant and is a member of the AICPA and MSCPA.

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E lizabeth Holland

Vice President, Human Resources

Elizabeth is a co-founder of Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc. Elizabeth has over 20 years of experience in the role of Human Resource Business Partner. Elizabeth has been the human resource lead in several mergers, acquisitions and divestures. She has worked in the biotechnology industry since 1996 with drug discovery companies, genomic services and nucleic acid purification products, and companies developing automation platforms. In addition, Elizabeth has experience managing the areas of finance, marketing, corporate communications and web development.

Elizabeth graduated from Northeastern University and holds her Senior Professional Human Resources Certification (SPHR). She is a member of Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA) and the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). Elizabeth was a Chair at the Mass Biotechnology Company for ten years and is one of the founders of HRBiotech Connect, a group formed in 2006 to provide a forum for senior level human resource business partners to debate and discuss current issues, to provide support and guidance to members, and to share information on critical HR needs in this growing industry.

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Timothy Olcott, MBA

Vice President, Customer Support & Logistics

Tim is a Co-Founder of Courtagen Life Sciences. Previously, he worked for Agencourt Bioscience from its 2001 inception through its acquisition by Beckman Coulter in 2006, leaving in 2007 to pursue an MBA. Throughout Agencourt’s rapid growth, Tim worked in manufacturing services. His responsibilities included purchasing, inventory planning and control, quality management, facilities management, and new product development. Most notably, Tim led a task force that implemented lean manufacturing practices in the laboratory, maintaining a low cost structure to drive margins and other key indicators. Tim also served on the New Product Development committee at Agencourt and managed the release of several successful product launches.

Tim earned his undergraduate degree in Business/Finance at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He left Agencourt in 2007, a year after the merger with Beckman Coulter, to pursue an MBA at Babson College. While studying at the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, he worked as an intern for the Boston Harbor Angel group coordinating deal screening and due diligence activities. Tim graduated from Babson in June of 2009.

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Francine Wachtmann, J.D. CHC

Compliance Officer

Francine Wachtmann joined Courtagen Life Sciences, Inc. after spending over 25 years in health care management and operations as a health care attorney, general counsel and compliance/privacy officer. She has extensive experience promoting and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, developing audit and monitoring procedures, establishing hotlines and communication tools, educating and training board members and health care professionals, drafting and implementing compliance programs, and leading the adoption of ethical conduct codes.

Prior to joining Courtagen, Francine was the Vice President and Compliance Officer for American Renal Associates, an independent dialysis services company that owns and operates clinics through joint venture relationships with nephrologists. She worked collaboratively with board members, company executives, managers, physicians, and over 2,000 staff members to successfully integrate an effective compliance program, code of conduct, and HIPAA policies and procedures into ARA’s daily operations.

Francine received a B.A. from Colgate University, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School and is certified in Health Care Compliance.

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Daniel Walsh

Vice President, Sales

Dan joined Courtagen Life Sciences as an Account Manager for the Northeast in 2012, and was promoted to Director of Sales in 2014.  Dan began his sales career with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. While at Pfizer, Dan was recognized with numerous sales awards including "Regional Performance Fund" winner, "Conventional Wisdom Award" winner, and "Excellence in Action" winner. Dan achieved a number one rank among his sales peers due to his outstanding product knowledge, sales skills training and evaluation. Whether selling pharmaceuticals or financial and insurance products Dan has exceeded his goals consistently.

Previously, Dan served in the US Navy as a pilot for 9 years on active duty and 11 years in the reserves. Dan served on every continent in the world and retired as a Commander in June of 2008. While serving his country, Dan was a patrol plane commander and instructor pilot. He also held several positions within his squadrons while serving from Safety Officer and Training Officer to Operations Officer in charge of millions of dollars in operational assets in the US and overseas. Dan also spent several years as an airline pilot, flying internationally for TWA and American Airlines.

Dan is a graduate of The University of Notre Dame where he majored in International Relations and minored in Business. Dan received his commission in the US Navy through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corp program.

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Mann Shoffner

Director, Corporate Development

Mann joined Courtagen as the Director of Corporate Development. Mann has held several senior business positions with companies commercializing new technologies in the areas of drug discovery and drug development. Most recently, Mann was the Director of Sales & Marketing at Hepregen Corp. There he led the commercialization efforts of its next-generation in vitro liver model, used to test the metabolism and safety of drugs in late discovery/early development. Prior to that, he led the commercial operations team at SRU Biosystems, which helped pharmaceutical companies improve the quality of their high throughput screening efforts. For the seven years prior, Mann set up and ran the international sales department for Agencourt Bioscience, Corp., now Beckman Coulter Genomics. Mann started his career at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine where he worked on proof-of-concept research to bring molecular biology techniques and microfluidics into a clinical diagnostic setting.

Mann holds a M.S. from MIT's Sloan School of Management and a B.S. in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Douglas Smith, Ph.D.

Senior Research Director, Genomic Science

Doug comes to Courtagen with over 27 years’ experience in the fields of human genetics and genomics at Genome Therapeutics Corp., Agencourt Bioscience Corp., and Beckman Coulter Inc. His early accomplishments include contributions to the first human genetic linkage map, development of improved technologies for large insert cloning, and development of multiplex sequencing - resulting in the first commercially sequenced genome (H. pylori). While helping to establish a variety of genomic technologies at GTC, Doug also served as Director of the GTC Sequencing Center, which made substantial contributions to the NHGRI-funded human, mouse and rat genome projects. Under new funding at Agencourt, Doug led the Sequencing Center to sequence numerous additional large genomes, and co-directed an NHGRI-funded project to develop the SOLiD next-generation sequencing technology. Most recently, Dr. Smith served as Director of Bioinformatics and Technology Development at Beckman Coulter Inc. Doug has a strong record of federal funding, scientific collaboration with the international genomics community, and has over 75 published research articles and patent applications.

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Michael Catalano, MBA

Sr. Director Marketing

Mike joined Courtagen Life Sciences as Sr. Director of Marketing, coming from Roche Diagnostics/454 Sequencing where he held roles in marketing as Sr. International Marketing Manager and Commercial Product Manager for the next generation sequencing products. Prior to Roche, Mike was Marketing/Product Manager for the innovative automation startup, Protedyne Corp., bringing industrial automation to molecular diagnostics, pharmaceutical and biotech labs, prior to its acquisition by LabCorp. Mike started his career at Packard BioScience, where he spent 13 years in positions of increasing responsibility including in international sales management, product development, and product marketing.

Mike earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering (Biomedical Instrumentation) from the University of Connecticut, and holds an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lally School of Management and Technology.

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Doug Kennedy

Director, Non-Profit and Volunteer Outreach

Doug Kennedy joined the Courtagen Life Sciences team as Director, Non-Profit and Volunteer Outreach after more than twenty years of experience in providing humanitarian aid in impoverished regions around the world. His work in Honolulu included developing the New Hope Relief program and leading more than 200 medical, first response, and community development outreach programs in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Following the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, his relief efforts included working as a producer on the film “The Third Wave”, which was screened in the first ever Presidential Jury Screening in the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and resulted in the development of CTEC – a community based tsunami warning center in Peraliya, Sri Lanka.

In 2009, he joined the staff of the Happy Hearts Fund as the Director of Volunteers where he developed multiple platforms for individuals and groups to participate in providing second wave response efforts following natural disasters including, nationwide fundraising teams to benefit the construction of schools, a New York City based intern program that played an active role with the Clinton Global Initiative, an online education program to equip students around the world in response to natural disasters, and traveled extensively to impacted regions for the purpose of nurturing the relationship between HHF and donors.

He currently resides in New York and Honolulu and continues as a consultant for non-profit organizations in volunteer development. At the core of all he does is his goal to see people realize the joy found when they apply their skills and passions to meet the needs of others.

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Jason Warner, Ph.D.

Sr. Director, Bioinformatics

Prior to joining Courtagen, Jason was Head of Bioinformatics at RainDance Technologies. At RainDance, Jason developed workflows and pipelines for next-gen sequencing analysis and primer design, as well as optimized assays for the RDT1000 target enrichment platform. Prior to RainDance, Jason contributed to the development of the SOLiD next-gen sequencing platform at Applied Biosystems.

Jason completed his postdoctoral training in bioinformatics and technology development at Harvard Medical School. Jason completed his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Physiology from Tufts University School of Medicine and he holds a BA in Biological Sciences from Cornell University.

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Ted Foss, Ph.D.

Director, Bioinformatics

Prior to joining Courtagen, Ted worked at Life Technologies as a Senior Scientist performing research & development for SOLiD and IonTorrent next-gen sequencing platforms. His duties spanned molecular biology, emulsion PCR development, assay development, hardware design, bioinformatics, software engineering, database design & management, web design, and analytic data mining. Before joining Life Tech, Ted was a Staff Scientist at US Genomics (now Pathogentix) where he was involved in developing USG's microfludic-based Direct Linear Analysis technology. He was involved in a wide variety of projects including designing a number of novel microfluidic strategies, assays and chips, data analysis techniques, and software/hardware integration systems.

Ted completed a Ph.D. at The Scripps Research Institute in Macromolecular & Cellular Structure & Chemistry studying the biophysical characteristics of amyloidogenic proteins and holds a B.A. from Colgate University in Chemistry and Psychology. 

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Amir Zare, M.S.

Director, Product Development

Amir is a Scientist/Geneticist for the Genomic Profiling division of Courtagen Life Sciences. Prior to joining Courtagen, he worked at MEDomics where he aided in the research and development for new clinical tests based on high throughput sequencing on next-gen platforms. From there, he took on a stronger role in the bioinformatics and interpretational side of clinical diagnostics.

Prior to his time at MEDomics, Amir was a Laboratory Manager and Senior Analyst for the next-generation sequencing department at GeneDx. He was also instrumental in the development of their pyrosequencing platform for clinical diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders and worked in their core sequencing lab as well as the Array CGH department.

Amir earned a B.S. in Physiology and Neurobiology from The University of Maryland, College Park, and an M.S. in Human Genetics from Tulane University School of Medicine.

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