The Usona Team
Board of Directors
Bill Linton - President
Bill Linton is the Co- Executive Director of Usona Institute, and President of the Board of Directors. Inspired by the meaningful impact a psilocybin study had on a friend suffering from cancer, Bill, along with Malynn Utzinger MD, co-founded Usona Institute in 2014. Linton founded Promega Corporation in 1978 and has served continuously as its President and Chief Executive Officer. A global life science research company, Promega employs over 1,400 worldwide and serves scientists in several markets including human therapeutics, diagnostics, human identity, agriculture, and environmental testing, among others.
Under Bill’s leadership Promega, starting in 1991, established and developed two non-profits that have proven valuable to the community: Woods Hollow Children’s Center (WHCC), which offers infant through pre-school childcare, and the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute), which provides community education in biotechnology. With Linton’s guidance, Promega also lends unique forms of community support that include offering meeting space to outside organizations, quarterly art exhibits and annual scientific symposia.
Linton has served as director or advisor for numerous industry, government, and community organizations.
In addition to his roles at Usona and Promega, Linton currently serves as director for the following entities: Bruker Biosciences, ALDA (Analytical Life Science and Diagnostics Association), BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute), Heffter Research Institute.
Linton received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 1970 and conducted post-graduate work in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1973 to 1976. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Hannam University, Daejon, South Korea (2005) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2015).
Carey Turnbull was Global Chairman of inter-dealer energy market derivative and futures broker Amerex, which he co-founded in 1983, and whose North American operations were sold in 2006 to become the energy brokerage division of NYSE listed GFI Group www.amerexenergy.com. In 2009 he founded North American Power, a retail energy supply company that under his Chairmanship grew to serve 300,000 electricity and natural gas customers in eleven states www.napower.com. In 2017 that business was purchased by NYSE listed Calpine (CPN), a Fortune 500 company based in Houston, Texas.
Mr. Turnbull was for 10 years a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees at Goddard College, from which he graduated in 1973. He is Development Director for the NYU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry’s palliative care Cancer Anxiety Psilocybin Study, and a member of the Board of the Heffter Research Institute. He now provides time as an adjunct advisor to the legal defense of the Native American Church and other indigenous people’s rights to the practice their religion, ceremonies, and beliefs free from cultural, religious and legal pressure.
Craig Christianson - Treasurer
Christianson is the General Manager, North America for Promega Corporation. He also manages the information technology and legal departments, leads the global custom OEM sales and marketing team, and heads global sales operations. Prior to joining Promega, Christianson was the Director of Licensing for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the patent management and licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
As Director of Licensing, he managed a team responsible for the marketing, licensing and monitoring of technologies developed by University of Wisconsin researchers for five years. Christianson began his career at IBM, holding various sales, management, program management, and executive positions over 14 years. Thereafter, he led two successive technology startup companies to the stage of profitability.
Christianson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, a Juris Doctor degree in Law, and Master of Science degree in Biotechnology all from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Rick Langer - Emeritus Member
Rick Langer is a lawyer and partner in Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP, concentrating his practice in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, business succession planning, prenuptial agreements, and marital property. He has an extensive private law practice advising individuals and family businesses in matters of succession planning.
Langer received his Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, in Aeronautical Engineering, from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana, and his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is a Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and a member of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law sections of the American Bar Association and Wisconsin Bar Association. He is a contributing author and co‑author of numerous books and articles, including Workbook for Wisconsin Estate Planners and the Marital Property Classification Handbook. He also has extensive teaching experience as a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin Law School and various bar organizations in estate planning topics, including Marital Property Reform.
For over 10 years, Langer has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America and Who’s Who in American Law, and he has been a Wisconsin Super Lawyer in the field of trusts and estates since 2005. Langer is passionate about his work with non-profit organizations, and is a director and/or officer of numerous charitable organizations, all dedicated to relieving human suffering. In 2002, he received the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Outstanding Volunteer Fund Raiser Award.
Robert Jesse - Secretary
Robert Jesse is convenor of the Council on Spiritual Practices. Through CSP, he was instrumental in creating the psilocybin research team at the Johns Hopkins University, and he is one of its co-investigators. He also led the writing of an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court in a key religious liberty case. The Court’s 8-0 decision upheld the right of a church, the União do Vegetal, to its sacrament containing the controlled substance DMT.
Jesse has been central in the formation of a dance-based spiritual community that draws liberally from the non-creedal, non-hierarchical ways of the Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends). Prior to CSP, he worked as a consultant in information technology for AT&T Bell Labs and others, then in several capacities for Oracle Corporation, lastly as a vice president of business development.
His university training is in computer science and electrical engineering.
Executive Management Team
Bill Linton - Co- Executive Director
“Our objective is to find new and effective methods to relieve anxiety and suffering, and contribute to the understanding of neuroscience and the relationship of the mind and body. This is a frontier of research that will shape our future in important ways that we are just beginning to appreciate.”
As Co- Executive Director of Usona Institute, Bill provides guidance and leadership to the greater team through managing the overall implementation of strategic initiatives, overseeing day-to-day operations, and working to ensure the responsible and efficient fulfillment of our organization’s mission. For more information on Bill, please refer to his Board of Directors bio here.
Laura McCormick - Director of Operations
“I have had a longtime interest in meditation and consciousness and, upon learning of the early studies in this field, was immediately intrigued by the potential. I am deeply inspired by Usona’s mission to help alleviate suffering and honored to be involved with helping to carry this promising research forward to the next stages of development.”
As the Director of Operations, Laura facilitates the day-to-day operations of Usona to keep projects and communications moving efficiently and in accordance with our overall strategic goals and organizational objectives. From managing engagements with regulatory agencies, academic institutions, and vendors to overseeing the completion of critical documents and agreements, Laura supports the forward movement of every aspect of Usona’s work.
Prior to her role at Usona, Laura spent twenty years as the owner and principal of Terra Carta, a custom graphics business, supervising day-to-day operations and researching and designing informational works for textbooks, atlases, and other projects. For six years she was also on the editorial team of Cartographic Perspectives, the journal of NACIS (North American Cartographic Information Society). Outside of work, Laura has enjoyed volunteer opportunities at several places in the community, including as an inpatient vigil program volunteer at Agrace Hospice & Palliative Care and as a volunteer counselor at Briarpatch Youth Services’ Runaway and Homeless Youth Program.
Laura received her B.A. in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in her spare time enjoys hiking, biking, skiing, sailing, reading, and practicing yoga.
Malynn Utzinger, MD - Co- Executive Director
“As a family physician, I knew that touching a person’s emotional and spiritual wellbeing were critical to helping people heal, or to simply reach out to life instead of pushing it away. So when I learned of researchers studying psychedelic medicines and mindful presence to support people’s journey through cancer, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I feel blessed to have been a part of Usona’s evolution from its earliest days, and am grateful to Bill Linton for his vision.”
Malynn Utzinger, MD, Co- Executive Director of Usona, is a physician and teacher of contemplative practices who brings her experience in medicine, research, and the teaching of mindfulness and integrative approaches to mind-body health into supporting Usona’s mission of carrying out research to lift the burden of depression and anxiety. Her role at Usona is one of offering perspective and communication strategies to ensure that our work helps to move the field forward through the development of our specific expertise in research and development of novel medicines, and through supporting the work of other good scientists.
Her early work at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in San Francisco focused on lifestyle approaches to increase cardiovascular health and wellbeing. Following that, she initiated the first course in Complementary Medicine for students and faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These early experiences prepared her to become the Director or Women’s Health at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in San Diego, CA founded by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and David Simon, M.D. Through the Chopra Center she became certified as a master of Ayurvedic Medicine and a teacher of yoga and meditation, while developing for the center novel programs in women’s health, moving meditation and the unfolding of human potential. Along with her role at Usona, Dr. Utzinger is the Director of Integrative Practices for the international biotech company Promega.
Malynn completed her medical training, residency and research fellowship (in family medicine, integrative medicine and preventive oncology respectively) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has been an assistant professor of Family Medicine and a fellow in the School of Human Ecology. In addition to work, Malynn enjoys spending time with her husband and six-year old son—biking, hiking, gardening, dancing, and in general, living “The Full Catastrophe” a la Zorba the Greek—in all of its richness.
Scientific Advisory Board
Chuck Raison, MD
Charles Raison, MD, is the Director of Clinical and Translational Research at Usona Instute. He is also the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families and Professor, School of Human Ecology, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin–Madison. Prior to this he was Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, and the Barry and Janet Lang Professor of Integrative Mental Health at the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona.
In addition to his academic positions, Dr. Raison serves as the founding Director of the Center for Compassion Studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona and is the mental health expert for CNN.com. Dr. Raison has an undergraduate degree in anthropology from Stanford University and a Master’s degree in English literature from the University of Denver.
He received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO and did his residency training in psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, where he later served as Director of Emergency Psychiatry Services. Dr. Raison is internationally recognized for his studies examining novel mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of major depression and other stress-related emotional and physical conditions, as well as for his work examining the physical and behavioral effects of compassion training.
The recipient of several teaching awards, Dr. Raison has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Raison received the Raymond Pearl Memorial Award from the Human Biology Association “in recognition of his contributions to our understanding of evolutionary biocultural origins of mental health and illness,” and was recently recognized as one of five university-wide “Faculty of Excellence” at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Franz X. Vollenweider, MD
Franz X. Vollenweider is currently Chief Psychiatrist and Co-Director of the Centre for Psychiatric Research in the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, at the University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zürich and Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, University of Zürich.
After obtaining a Diploma in Chemical Lab Technology in 1978 he studied Biochemistry and Medicine at the ETH and the University of Zürich and completed his medical training at the Institute of Toxicology at the University and ETH Zürich in 1987 with a doctorate in Experimental Medicine from the University of Zürich. Dr. Vollenweider received post-doctoral research fellowships in neurochemistry, electrophysiology, and neuroimaging techniques at the Brain Research Institute, University of Zürich, the PSI PET Centre of the ETH, and the PET Centre of the University of Zürich.
After clinical training in psychiatry, internal medicine, and Freudian analysis at the Psychiatric University Hospital, Zürich and other institutions, he received certification in psychiatry and psychotherapy (1996). He completed a guest residency at New York University, USA, and has been a visiting scientist at the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, USA.
Since his doctorate, Dr. Vollenweider has been interested in the foundations of altered states of consciousness as well as in psychotic and affective disorders using concepts from psychology, psychopathology, and cognitive neuroscience. In 1999, he founded the Heffter Research Centre at the Psychiatric University Hospital, Zürich and more recently at the Swiss Neuromatrix Foundation to support multidisciplinary studies in the mind-brain interface of pharmacological, (e.g. psychedelic) and non-pharmacological, (e.g. meditation-induced) altered mental states.
His current research focuses on the neuronal correlates of the sense of self, emotion regulation, and social interaction, relevant for human well-being and for the further understanding of mental disorders related to these psychological domains. Dr. Vollenweider has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, many of which address the neurobiology of psychostimulants, psychedelics, and entactogens in humans.
His research is supported by multiple grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss Federal Health Office, the Heffter Research Institute, USA, and by multiple AWARDS from NARSAD, USA, and the Fetzer Research Institute, USA. He has received the Achievement Award of the Swiss Society of Psychiatry (1990), the Heffter Research Institute Award (1997), the Götz Prize of the University of Zürich (2000), the British Association of Psychopharmacology Prize (2002), and multiple Awards from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (1999, 2003, 2010, 2016), among others.
Gary Tarpley, PhD - Chairman
Gary Tarpley is Vice President of Research and Development at Promega Corporation, where he oversees daily R&D operations, including the investigation and development of new technologies and early-stage products. Tarpley and the teams he has managed have entered more than 20 candidates into preclinical/clinical human development studies. He led the team that discovered the BHAP class of HIV-1 antivirals, resulting in the FDA approval of Rescriptor. He also managed the antibacterial discovery team that resulted in the worldwide registration of Zyvox, the first structurally and mechanistic novel antibiotic discovered in over three decades.
Prior to joining Promega, Tarpley held a number of posts at Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, MI, including Research Scientist (1984-88), Senior Research Scientist (1989-90), and Director, Cancer in Infectious Diseases Research (1991-96). In 1996, Tarpley was promoted to Vice President, Discovery Research, Infectious Diseases Research, Pharmacia & Upjohn and in 2000 was named Vice President Research, Infectious Diseases, Pharmacia.
Tarpley has received several honors, including extensive research support from the National Institutes of Health (1987-2000), the Upjohn Achievement in Science and Medicine Award (1993); in 1995, Tarpley was appointed by the Secretary of Health & Human Services of the Public Health Service, to the National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Research Council. He has served on numerous scientific advisory boards and served as consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. Tarpley has published more than 70 papers in leading scientific journals.
Tarpley obtained his Ph.D. in Oncology Research from the McArdle Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1982. His research, conducted with James and Elizabeth Miller, focused on a molecular understanding of the initiation of liver cancer. He performed postdoctoral studies in molecular virology at the University of Wisconsin with Dr. Howard Temin, a Nobel Laureate in Viral Oncology, from 1982–1984.
Poncho Meisenheimer, PhD
Poncho Meisenheimer is the Director of Promega’s Chemistry Research division. He is responsible for the discovery of new small molecules that enable many of Promega’s innovative luminescent and fluorescent products across segments in drug discovery, cell health, metabolism and biomolecule detection.
Poncho’s research has long centered on the intracellular detection of the interactions between endogenous and exogenous molecules including efficient selective protein labeling, novel proluminescent probes for enzyme and biomolecule detection, novel fluorescent tracer and dye development, and novel bioluminescent substrates.
Additionally, Poncho has lead chemistry research programs in drug candidates to enable psychedelic assisted therapies, fluorescent amidites to enable forensic DNA analysis, polymers to enable capillary electrophoresis, and magnetic microparticles to enable automated genomics.
He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Usona Institute and for the Chemical Probes Portal, and has currently co-authored over 30 journal articles/reviews and is an inventor for 29 issued patents and 81 pending patent applications. Poncho received his Ph.D. in Organic Synthesis at University of Colorado–Boulder and served on the faculty at California Polytechnic State University–SLO prior to joining Promega Corporation in 2001.