About / Board of Managers
Stephen Benoit is Chief Executive Officer of MSDC. He is a results-driven serial entrepreneur known for turning innovative ideas into business ventures with strong profit potential. He has created and led businesses in the life sciences, packaged goods, education services, and financial services industries. At MSDC, Mr. Benoit is committed to maximizing shareholder value through the efficient use of equity capital, monetizing and maximizing assets through strategic partnerships, mitigating and reducing risks, and inculcating accountability, teamwork, performance, and leadership at all levels of the organization.
Before joining MSDC, Mr. Benoit was founding president and COO of the Global Food Protection Institute, where he secured funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish and build this global collaborative network influencing the adoption of food protection policies and practices that lead to improved public health. Before that, he raised venture funding for, and served as president and CEO of NanoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company developing nanoparticle-based drugs to treat cancer and other serious diseases. Mr. Benoit’s previous experience includes serving as a corporate officer and member of the USA Executive Management Committee of Kellogg Company where he ran a $250 million division following the acquisition and integration of Worthington Foods and Kashi Company; VP of marketing and sales for AMBI, Inc., an antimicrobial peptide manufacturer; and VP of marketing for Calgene Fresh, Inc., a subsidiary of a leading biotechnology company that developed the world’s first genetically modified whole food. Mr. Benoit began his career at Bank of America.
Mr. Benoit is a Visiting Executive Lecturer at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia where he teaches a case on post-merger integration. He received a BBA and an MBA in finance from Loyola Marymount University and is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit institutions of higher education.
Jerry Callahan, PhD, MBA
Dr. Jerry Callahan brings 15 years of operational leadership experience in developing businesses in environments of change, and he has held numerous executive positions in traditional start-up ventures, as well as successfully leading start-up initiatives within existing organizations. Dr. Callahan serves on the boards of several private equity and venture capital organizations focused on the life sciences and has held executive level positions in the education, research, nutrition, and life science industries.
Dr. Callahan is a Director of Hopen Life Science Ventures, a Grand Rapids-based venture capital fund formed to take advantage of converging market dynamics in the life science field. There he is responsible for human resources, business and organizational development, and finance. He also serves as a Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Projects to the Van Andel Institute, where his responsibilities include establishing internal commercialization processes to ensure efficient and effective transition of innovative technologies from laboratory to marketplace. In addition, Dr. Callahan is founder and launch CEO for Intervention Insights, a personalized medicine company serving the community oncology market. Before this, he was chief information officer and vice president of supply chain at Twinlab Corporation, where he played a key role in the company’s growth through acquisitions and new product launches. In 2004, he co-founded Hope River Ventures, Inc., a Grand Rapids-based private equity investment company focused on the life sciences sector.
Dr. Callahan has a BS from University of Illinois in Business Administration, MBA from Western Michigan University, an MS from Ferris State University in information technology, and a PhD in organizational design from Union Institute & University.
Jerry Colca, PhD
Jerry Colca, PhD is President and Chief Scientific Officer, and a co-founder of MSDC. He is a widely recognized expert in the pathophysiology of insulin resistance and the pharmacological mechanisms of action of insulin sensitizing drugs. He has dedicated his career to studying the endocrine control of metabolism as it relates to diabetes and has been focused on insulin sensitizers from the early days of their discovery, especially on the safety and pharmacology of pioglitazone. His long-held commitment to treating and preventing diabetes underpins the mission of MSDC, which he co-founded in 2006. This vision forms the basis for the company’s research and development into compounds that may treat the root causes of age-related metabolic diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Under his leadership, MSDC is advancing its discovery of a novel mitochondrial protein complex that is believed to be the mechanism through which insulin sensitizing drugs achieve effective glucose control.
In 1984, Dr. Colca joined The Upjohn Company to study the mechanism of action of the thiazolidinediones and served as project leader for the selection and early development of pioglitazone hydrochloride (Actos®), one of the most successful insulin sensitizers ever developed for the treatment of diabetes. Following The Upjohn Company’s decision to exit the diabetes field in 1993, Dr. Colca continued his metabolic disease research with the company through its mergers with Pharmacia, Monsanto-Searle, and Pfizer, building a new diabetes drug discovery capability in Sweden for Pharmacia, and developing a new target discovery effort in St. Louis for Pfizer.
Dr. Colca has published widely on the mechanism of action of insulin sensitizers, and is the author of more than 80 publications, chapters and presentations. He is a section editor for Expert Opinion in Investigational Drugs and is a member of numerous organizations including American Diabetes Association, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and The New York Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Colca received a BS in biology and an MS and PhD in physiology and biochemistry from the University of Houston, where his early studies focused on the regulation of the secretion of pancreatic hormones. His post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Pathology at Washington University, School of Medicine in St. Louis concentrated on the biochemistry of isolated pancreatic islets and the study of stimulus-secretion coupling in the control of metabolism.
After a short time in public accounting, Mike Jandernoa joined Perrigo Company in 1979 as its chief financial officer. In 1981, he became president and joined the Perrigo board of directors and became CEO in 1988. From 1991 to 2003, he served as chairman of the board. Jandernoa retired as CEO of Perrigo in 2000 and now serves as Perrigo’s lead independent director on the board. During his time at the helm, Mr. Jandernoa took Perrigo from a privately held $30 million company to a $2.5 billion publicly-traded firm. Under his leadership, Perrigo became a leading, global healthcare supplier that develops, manufactures and distributes over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals, nutritional products, active pharmaceutical ingredients and consumer products.
Following his tenure at Perrigo, Mr. Jandernoa founded Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring, a Grand Rapids-based company that provides mentors to assist entrepreneurs in growing their companies. He is also a co-founder of Bridge Street Capital Partners, also in Grand Rapids, which provides strategic planning, mentoring management, and sourcing appropriate forms of capital, and he is a founder and board member of the Holland, Michigan-based Grand Angels, which uses financial, intellectual and networking capital to promote the success of growing companies and to enhance the economic development of West Michigan.
In addition to serving on Perrigo’s board of directors, Mr. Jandernoa also serves on the board of directors for Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM), the Van Andel Institute, Hopen Life Science Fund, the University of Michigan Business School Visiting Committee, and Grand Valley University Foundation. He previously was a director on the board of the Strategic Economic and Commercialization Board (formerly Michigan Life Sciences Corridor). He is a member of other corporate advisory boards and serves on or chairs numerous religious and community boards and committees. He is a past member of the Young Presidents’ Organization.
Mr. Jandernoa began his career at BDO Seidman. He has a BBA from the University of Michigan.
Rolf Kletzien, PhD
Dr. Rolf Kletzien is a co-founder of MSDC and is internationally known for his scientific and clinical contributions to the understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of human therapeutics. He holds numerous patents and is the author of more than 70 publications focused mainly on endocrine control of intermediary metabolism and cell growth, including the seminal 1996 study published in Biochemical Pharmacology that first showed the effect of thiazolidinediones on brown adipose tissue differentiation. He co-founded MSDC in 2006 and helped create a new pharmaceutical business model based on replacing the services and infrastructure of large pharmaceutical companies with a capital-efficient yet robust combination of internal and external world-class drug discovery and development scientists.
Dr. Kletzien entered the pharmaceutical industry in 1989 with The Upjohn Company and played important roles in the discovery and development of therapeutics in diabetes, infectious diseases, and cancer. He held numerous leadership positions there, as well as with Pharmacia & Upjohn, Pharmacia, and Pfizer, including executive management posts overseeing domestic and European scientists in cancer research, cellular & molecular biology, protein sciences, genomics, and biotechnology. Until 2005 he served as vice president of genomics and biotechnology for Pfizer. He is currently an adjunct professor of biology at Western Michigan University.
In 1983, Dr. Kletzien was named to the scientific advisory board for the US Air Force, where he was awarded the “Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service” in 1986. He has served on the boards of the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health Endocrinology and Medical Biochemistry Study Sections, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and is a member of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Kletzien was named a research fellow in pharmacology at Harvard Medical School and the Dana/Farber Cancer Center and later accepted a faculty appointment in the department of biochemistry at West Virginia University School of Medicine. There he received the Outstanding Teaching Award and was the recipient of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Career Development Award in diabetes.
Dr. Kletzien has a BS in biochemistry and a PhD in oncology from the University of Wisconsin. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at McArdle Laboratory of Cancer Research and was a post-doctoral research associate in the department of biochemical sciences at Princeton University.
Mark Olesnavage, Board Chair
Mark Olesnavage is managing director of Hopen Life Sciences Ventures, a Grand Rapids-based venture capital fund formed to take advantage of converging market dynamics in the life science field. He sets the fund’s strategic direction and leads its business activities. A veteran of the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries, he has led business divisions in the United States, Europe and the Pacific Rim. He also serves on the board of directors of Tolera Therapeutics, Inc. and Intervention Insights, Inc.
Mr. Olesnavage spent 24 years with Perrigo Company, a leading global healthcare supplier that develops, manufactures and distributes over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals, nutritional products, active pharmaceutical ingredients and consumer products, where he held senior management positions including executive vice president and general manager – Perrigo Pharmaceuticals, president of Customer Business Development, and executive vice president responsible for Operations and Pharmaceutical Business Development. During his tenure, he oversaw several key acquisitions, was a leader in the development of numerous product and technology partnerships, and helped grow sales from $70 million to $1.3 billion (in 2005). He was previously a longtime member of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, and has served on the executive committees of both groups.
Mr. Olesnavage has an undergraduate degree in marketing and economics, and an MBA from Grand Valley State University.
William U. Parfet
William U. Parfet is currently Executive Chairman of inviCRO, a leading Boston headquartered global provider of imaging-based service solutions and image analysis software for the pharmaceutical and prescription drug development industry. He founded MPI Research, a global preclinical research organization headquartered in Mattawan, Michigan in November 1995. Mr. Parfet served as Chairman and CEO until December 2015. From 1993 to 1996, Mr. Parfet served as the president and CEO of Richard-Allan Medical, headquartered in Richland, Michigan, a worldwide manufacturer of surgical products. Prior to that, he served as Vice Chairman of the Board of The Upjohn Company where he was also President (1991-1993) and Executive Vice President (1989-1991). Mr. Parfet joined The Upjohn Company (now recognized as Pfizer) in March 1973 and was a member of the Board of Directors from 1985 through 2003.
Mr. Parfet currently serves on several boards including Lead Independent Director of Stryker Corporation, Chairman of Lake Forest College, and Chairman of Southwest Michigan First (economic development). He serves as Director for the Monsanto Company, Taubman Centers, College for Creative Studies, Business Leaders for Michigan, and Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.
Previously he has served as Trustee for the Financial Accounting Foundation, the group that oversees the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and was a member of the Emerging Issues Task Force (EITF). He also served as the Commissioner for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and as the National Chairman for Financial Executives International (FEI) for which he was inducted into the FEI Hall of Fame in 2013. Mr. Parfet received his BA in economics in 1970 from Lake Forest College and his MBA in international finance from the University of Michigan in 1972.
J.M. “Jim” Schultz
Jim Schultz is Founder and Managing Partner of Open Prairie Ventures, a private equity and advisory services firm which provides early and growth stage capital, merchant banking and strategic planning services to companies in a diverse array of industries including, life science, medical device, agricultural, software and information technology, energy, financial services, manufacturing and distribution, construction, real estate, and retail industries. Open Prairie serves as a management advisor to SWMF Life Science Fund, which has a significant investment in MSDC.
Mr. Schultz is also a Board member of Vestaron, Compact Particle Acceleration Corporation, and other Open Prairie portfolio investments, and is the past Chairman of the Board of Prime Banc Corporation.
Mr. Schultz has an MBA from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management, a JD from DePaul University School of Law, and a BS in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University. He is involved in numerous philanthropic and community efforts, including Founder and Past-President, Effingham County Community Foundation, Board member, Ounce of Prevention Fund, and Board president, The Cross Foundation. Mr. Schultz also serves on the Advisory Boards of DePaul University College of Business and Illinois State University Entrepreneurial Studies program.
Robert L. Zerbe, M.D.
Robert L. Zerbe, MD, co-founded and is retired chief executive officer of QuatRx Pharmaceuticals Company, a venture-backed drug development company that developed the recently launched product for postmenopausal dyspareunia, Osphena®. Prior to QuatRx, Dr. Zerbe held several senior executive management positions with major pharmaceutical companies including Eli Lilly and Pfizer (formerly Parke-Davis). During his tenure at Eli Lilly, Dr. Zerbe’s clinical research and development positions included Managing Director, Lilly Research Center U.K., and Vice President of Clinical Investigation and Regulatory Affairs. He joined Parke Davis in 1993, becoming Senior Vice President of Worldwide Clinical Research and Development. In this capacity he led the clinical development programs for a number of key products, including Neurontin® and Lipitor®. Dr. Zerbe received his M.D. from the Indiana University School of Medicine, and has completed post-doctoral work in internal medicine, endocrinology and neuroendocrinology at Indiana University and the National Institutes of Health. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Aastrom Biosciences, a public specialty biologics company developing patient-specific expanded cellular therapies for use in the treatment of patients with severe diseases and conditions.