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 Of Counsel with Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP, where he concentrated 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. In 2017, he received this same award for a second time.
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.
Penny Patterson - Director of Communications
As the Director of Communications for Usona, Penny provides high-level consulting and management of the organization’s communications, media, and public relations policies and engagements. Penny’s past work in broadcast journalism, public relations, and marketing communications bring a depth of expertise and keen insight into Usona’s communications strategies.
Throughout her 10 years of experience in broadcast journalism, Penny has contributed to award-winning coverage on AIDS education, environmentalism, and local crime. She has held PR and marketing communications positions for a number of businesses serving both consumer and clinical accounts, has taught advertising and creative development courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication, and currently serves as the Senior Director across Corporate Affairs and Marketing Services for Promega Corporation, an international life sciences company.
Penny earned her B.A. degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in her free time enjoys singing, exercise, and spending time in nature.
Tura Patterson - Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships
In collaboration with Usona’s leadership team, Tura leads the development and management of strategic relationships for Usona Institute. Tura engages directly in identifying and fostering key relationships with research collaborators and donors, and manages relationships with our drug manufacture and regulatory partners to ensure streamlined and well-managed alignment with Usona’s clinical program goals and expectations.
Prior to Usona, Tura worked as a LEED accredited business development consultant with specialization in strategic planning, development of new markets and services, sustainable design, and global engagement for high-technology, non-profit, academic, and professional service organizations. Within that role, Tura applied her expertise in facilitation, creative thinking, and organizational development to position clients through innovative partnerships and new collaboration opportunities.
Tura has a bachelor’s and master’s dual degree in International Economic and Commercial Relations and Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has served as an intern with the US Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark.
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’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.
Staff & Consultants
Alexander Sherwood, PhD - Medicinal Chemist
As one of Usona’s medicinal chemists, Alex’s efforts focus on the optimization and synthesis of psilocybin for Usona’s pre-clinical and clinical research in developing a treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD), as well as in engaging in multidisciplinary collaborations to conduct basic research to advance the understanding of psychedelic compounds and their effects on the mind.
Applying his expertise in expanding scientific knowledge within the fields of medicinal and natural products chemistry, Alex has contributed to a multitude of research articles in journals such as the Journal of Organic Chemistry, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Journal of Natural Products, Organic Letters, Synthesis, and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Alex holds a B.A. degree in Chemistry and M.S. and PhD degrees in Organic Chemistry from the University of New Orleans, with Postdoctoral Training in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas. Beyond the lab, Alex’s interests reach into the spheres of music, art, the outdoors, aviation, and vintage 2-stroke motorcycles.
Brian Barrett – Controller
As Usona’s Controller, Brian manages our organization’s accounting, treasury, payroll, taxes, and financial planning and analysis needs. With over twenty-five years of experience in accounting, controllership, and financial planning and analysis positions in the biopharmaceutical, radiation therapy, and life sciences fields, Brian’s expertise ensures that Usona’s resources are exceptionally managed and properly allocated.
Brian is a Certified Public Accountant and member of the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants (WICPA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), as well as a Chartered Global Management Accountant and member of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Brian has a B.S. degree in Accounting from Northern Michigan University, and outside of work enjoys sports, music, golf, downhill skiing, travel, and spending time with family.
Heather Clouting – Psilocybin Program Lead
As Usona’s Psilocybin Program Lead, Heather focuses her efforts on creating and managing our program timelines, developing our clinical and regulatory strategies, and coordinating external collaborations. Her expertise in clinical trial operations, inspection readiness, and contract research organization oversight lays the foundation for supporting Usona’s mission of registering psilocybin as a treatment for depression.
Heather’s extensive experience include 13 years of working in clinical research: 5 years at MRC CTU in the UK, 5 years at Novartis Vaccines in Italy and the US, 1 year at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in the US, and 2 years as an independent consultant with Usona Institute and MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), among others. Her work has included program management and clinical development plan strategic review and support, protocol writing, and the design and trial management of 15+ single and multicenter/multicounty trials (from Phase I though Phase IV) in the US, EU, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She has been the global inspection readiness lead for two successful Biologic License Applications, including FDA clinical site inspections.
Heather has received the ‘Research and Development Appreciation Award’ (2015) for work done in leading corrective actions for compliance issues and the ‘Operational Excellence Silver Award’ (2012) for work done as global lead for inspection readiness activities during her time at Novartis. Heather holds a BS degree in Chemistry (Honors) from Kingston University in London, UK, and a MS degree in Clinical Trials from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, UK, which was fully sponsored during her time at MRC CTU. Outside of work, Heather enjoys practicing yoga, snowboarding, fire dancing, surfing, travel, and gardening.
Janet Dawson – Administrative Assistant
As our Administrative Assistant, Janet manages the details of the Usona team’s daily activities through scheduling meetings and events, organizing workplace flow, and streamlining all of our communications processes. By tackling the intricate inner workings of the team, Janet supports the greater mission and purpose of Usona in exploring novel therapies to alleviate the suffering of those experiencing depression and anxiety.
She realized her love of interacting with diverse groups of people and organizing business details through management positions in the food service industry, which propelled her into executive and senior administrative assistance roles in the fields of transportation, telecommunications, and microchip packaging. Prior to making her way to Usona, she worked for eight years as a senior administrative assistant for a non-profit residential and outpatient treatment center for at-risk youth, serving over 2,000 children and family members each year.
Janet studied English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and received an Associates of Science, Paralegal degree at Brown Mackie University in Boise, ID. In her free time, you can find Janet cooking a delicious meal, reading, backpacking, or delving into the world of computer gaming.
Kelsey O’Hern – Project Manager, Drug Development
Kelsey’s work focuses primarily on the development of the psilocybin drug product as it relates to manufacturing and encapsulation, as well as in managing our clinical operations and non-clinical studies with psilocybin. Kelsey has worked extensively to establish one of the two chemistry research labs for Usona, where efforts on optimizing the drug synthesis process will occur.
Having worked several years for a biotechnology company, Kelsey brings hands-on cGMP manufacturing experience for FDA-regulated products, including support of stability program activities and quality testing. Through her previous work for a Contract Research Organization (CRO), she brings expertise to Usona in coordinating and completing clinical site start-up activities, including regulatory documentation and submissions, contract and budget negotiations, and trial master file maintenance.
Kelsey holds a B.S. degree in Physics from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys practicing yoga, traveling, cooking, baking, eating, playing games, hiking, biking, kayaking, and the great outdoors.
Kristen Linton – Clinical Facilitator Program Manager
As our Clinical Facilitator Program Manager, Kristen fuels her dedication for supporting the treatment of anxiety and depression through assisting with the management and coordination of facilitator standardization and training for our upcoming multi-site registration trials with psilocybin.
A licensed nurse based in Chicago, IL, Kristen has worked at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on a Hematology/Oncology Unit specializing in stem cell transplants, where she administered chemotherapy, performed stem cell transplants, and assisted in end-of-life care. She graduated from the first Psychedelic Assisted Therapy Certification program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Kristen is currently training to become a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator, a passion she discovered while attending the CIIS certification course.
Kristen received her B.S. degree in Health Promotion and Sports Studies from the University of Iowa, and her M.S. degree in Nursing from DePaul University.
Kristi Kaylo – Lab Operations Manager
Kristi’s primary role within Usona is to solve practical problems through the use of analytical chemistry, utilizing modern instrumentation to measure chemical and physical phenomena. Working from our Madison-based medicinal chemistry lab, her additional activities include establishing and maintaining laboratory infrastructure and ensuring regulatory compliance within the lab.
Kristi’s efforts work towards expanding the capabilities of Usona’s medicinal chemistry laboratory by providing the skills and methods necessary to make meaningful measurements on rapid timelines that validate the efficacy and safety of complex, experimental samples.
Prior to finding her way to Usona, Kristi worked as a research scientist and chemist conducting studies on aquatic ecotoxicology in both the private and public sectors, and worked as an R&D chemist assisting with pharmaceutical formulation development. Kristi has B.S. degrees in chemistry, biology, and psychology from the University of New Orleans, LA.
Michele Gassman – Clinical Trials Manager
As our Clinical Trials Manager, Michele’s primary role is to provide guidance and general supervision to research study sites throughout the life cycle of our upcoming registration trials for psilocybin. In working with our Contract Research Organization, she assists with setting up study centers and ensures that each center has been adequately trained on all operational aspects of the study.
Prior to coming to Usona, Michele worked at the University of Wisconsin for 15 years as a research specialist and research program manager in various medical divisions, where she was responsible for all aspects of conducting and managing research studies. Prior to that she was a Cancer Information Specialist/Counselor at the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center, funded by the National Cancer Institute. Before moving back to Wisconsin, she was a Counselor/Research Specialist at Denver Public Health, where she focused on HIV prevention. Earlier in her career she was a social worker, working with women and families experiencing domestic violence. Additionally, she’s held various volunteer positions with local community organizations.
Michele received a B.A. in Social Work and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and a M.A. in Conflict Resolution/ International Studies from the University of Denver. She thoroughly enjoys being in nature and is happiest when near water or in the mountains. When free time presents itself she also enjoys traveling, reading, meditating, exercising and mostly spending time her family, who makes her laugh on a daily basis and constantly reminds her of just how good life really is.
Rassamee Kahrs – Projects Assistant
Rassamee’s role at Usona covers a wide spectrum of activities, ranging from the compilation of communications and guiding-related documents, to cataloguing research on psychedelic science and therapies, maintaining digital media platforms, and assisting with the facilitation of guide training and standardization. Her endeavors aim to support the growth and depth of Usona’s current work in the registration of psilocybin for Major Depressive Disorder, as well as in cultivating long-term visions aligned with Usona’s mission.
Prior to joining the Usona team, Rassamee nourished her ardor for the natural world through designing and working in gardens and prairies, tending to the well-being, growth, and beauty of the silent lives of plants. Guided by her curiosity around consciousness and perception, she has spent years studying and practicing contemplative and somatic modalities that facilitate the integration and healing processes of the mind and body.
Rassamee holds B.A. degrees in Environmental Studies and Asian studies with a concentration in Southeast Asia from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Outside of work, she enjoys practicing yoga, beingin nature, ecstatic dance and poetry, improvisational art, and spending time with family and loved ones.
Robert Kargo, PhD – Medicinal Chemist
The scope of Robert’s work at Usona focuses on the optimization of psilocybin synthesis in support of our upcoming clinical trials, designing and executing SAR (structure-activity relationship) studies to explore relationships between the molecular structure of psilocybin and its biological effects, as well as facilitating communications across pre-clinical, clinical, and regulatory channels consistent with the requirements of a Schedule I DEA license.
Robert has collaborated on projects with industry and academic researchers in support of NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as part of the Medicinal Chemistry for Neuro-therapeutics Program (NINDA MCNP), is an editorial member for the American Chemical Society (ACS) Medicinal Chemistry Letters academic journal, and is a bi-monthly contributor to the Organic Process Research and Development (OPRD) Highlight publications.
Robert is a recipient of the Pfizer Global Research and Development Research Fellowship, the McNair Scholar Award, and has over thirty patents and publications in high caliber peer-reviewed journals. He received his PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry at North Dakota University, and has lectured at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences in Freetown, Sierra Leone. In his free time, Robert enjoys table tennis (ping pong), biking, reading, and writing.