Accelerating & Commercializing Medical Device Technology


Founded in 2012, ZIAN is a bold experiment in bringing the worlds of medicine and engineering together to speed the translation of technological innovation into the clinic. ZIAN taps into the creativity of clinicians and provides them access to the expertise in engineering, intellectual property and business development skills needed to develop their ideas into viable products. The vision of ZIAN’s founder, Sunil J. Patel, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at MUSC, is for this to be a self-sustaining model of innovation, in which the licensing of inventions provides the funds needed for the development of new technologies. On a trajectory to achieve sustainability, ZIAN offers a model of successful translational research that could be adopted by other specialties.


When Jerry Zucker, a prominent Charleston businessman, received a diagnosis of glioblastoma in 2006, he and his family were surprised at how few treatment options were available. This led to a series of conversations with Dr. Patel about why the pace of innovation in medicine was so slow and how it could be accelerated. Patel explained that obstacles to innovation existed in both academia and industry. Physicians, who are involved with patient care every day, often have ideas for new technology, but most abandon these ideas because they do not have the time or support to carry them forward. In contrast, industry has the engineering and product design know-how as well as the business expertise needed to bring a technology into the clinic, but that technology is often less than ideal because it is designed with little input from frontline clinicians.

Zucker and Patel thought there had to be a better way. “We wanted to bring these two worlds together and change the culture,” said Patel. After Zucker’s death in 2008, Zucker’s wife, Anita, donated the money to make that happen, and ZIAN was born.

Meet The Team

Our team is assembled to swiftly and expertly create and de-risk technologies inspired by the faculty and staff of the Medical University of South Carolina.

Core Team

Mark Semler

Mark Semler

Chief Executive Officer

Mark is the Chief Executive Officer of ZIAN at the Medical University of South Carolina. For the past 18 years Mark has worked on commercializing multiple complex medical devices. Prior to joining ZIAN in 2012, Mark worked at Orthofix, a medical device manufacturer located in Lewisville, TX. As the Vice President of Engineering R&D for their Spinal Implants group, Mark lead a team of engineers and surgeons to commercialize several devices per year. He has patents and patents pending on several devices Orthofix distributes. Prior to Orthofix, Mark worked at Datascope Corp. in Montvale, NJ on endoscopic vascular staplers. Early in his career, he worked on IV fluid pumps including electronic packaging in a high-tech, rugged, splash-proof housing with a complex integrated motor, transmission and sensors, in addition to blood supply processing equipment, and site-specific drug delivery devices. Prior to his experience with medical technology, Mark spent a few years designing consumer electronics and developed Macintosh gaming software. He was educated at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY where he earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering.

Paul Asper

Paul Asper

Chief Commercialization Officer

Paul is a healthcare industry and innovation veteran whose experience spans finance, strategy, operations, business development, and executive-level leadership. Prior to joining ZIAN, Paul served as Division Vice President at DaVita Inc., a Fortune 200 healthcare services company, where he led a 760+ person team and had total accountability for a multi-site, $150 million P&L across South Carolina and Georgia. Before that, Paul held other executive roles at DaVita, including Regional Operations Director, and Director of Clinical Strategy and Special Projects. Prior to DaVita, Paul was an Associate at Nashville Capital Network, a manager of early-stage investment funds, where he evaluated potential deals and mentored entrepreneurs on the capital raising process. Before that, Paul was Senior Financial Analyst for Spheris, a private-equity-backed provider of healthcare technology and services. Paul received his Health Care MBA, with concentrations in finance and accounting, from Vanderbilt University, and his undergraduate business degree, with minors in finance and economics, from Middle Tennessee State University.

Kimberly Allen

Kimberly Allen

Executive Assistant

Kimberly is the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of ZIAN. She brings over 25 years of experience as an administrative professional supporting executives from a variety of industries. Kimberly graduated from Towson University in Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies. Following graduation, she relocated to San Francisco supporting teams of executives at start-up ventures prior to joining Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers. Most recently, Kimberly held the role of Executive Assistant to Shawn Jenkins, the Co-Founder and former President and CEO of Benefitfocus here in Charleston.

Joseph Ruscito

Joseph Ruscito

Biomechanical Engineer

Joe is a Biomechanical Engineer for ZIAN working side-by-side clinician inventors to develop ideas into functioning prototypes through the use of his deep knowledge in mechanical engineering, 3D solids modeling, and 3D printing. Prior to working at ZIAN, Joe has worked across a wide range of industries and in a variety of positions which helped to develop his diverse set of capabilities. Joe received his BS in Mechanical Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL and his MBA at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC.

Troy Huth, JD Ph.D

Troy Huth, JD Ph.D

Director of Intellectual Property

Troy serves as the Director of Intellectual Property for ZIAN.  Troy has been a U.S. Registered Patent Attorney for nearly 10 years and is experienced in supporting a wide variety of biomedical technologies through the intellectual property process including patent evaluation, prosecution, counseling, management, transactions and litigation.  Troy evaluates ZIAN inventions for intellectual property potential, manages prosecution and maintenance of ZIAN’s intellectual property  portfolio, and works with the ZIAN executive team to execute partnership agreements for ZIAN IP.  Troy also serves a dual role as the Associate Director of the MUSC Foundation for Research Development.  Prior to coming to MUSC, Troy served as a licensing manager at the University of South Florida from 2015 through 2018 evaluating and managing IP, negotiating licenses and overseeing the commercialization of a wide range of biomedical technologies. Troy also previously served as a project attorney at Alston & Bird, LLP where he participated in intellectual property litigations and counseled clients on intellectual property issues.  Troy is registered with the USPTO and is licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina. He holds a J.D. from the Charlotte School of Law, and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of South Carolina.

Heather Parrish

Heather Parrish

Director of Development

Heather is the Director of Development for the Department of Neurology, Neurosurgery and ZIAN at MUSC.  Heather began her career as an educator before transitioning into the nonprofit arena.  Heather is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic plans to raise awareness, visibility and funding for the Neurosciences. Seventeen years as a development director created extensive experience with major gifts, foundation and corporation contributions, planned giving and cultivating relationships for mutual benefit. Heather states, “When generosity and exceptional leadership align, positive changes occur.” Heather is honored to assist ZIAN with innovative technologies designed to improve healthcare for our community and beyond. Heather graduated from Virginia Tech with a BA in Elementary Education.

Board of Trustees

Jesse Goodwin, Ph.D

Chairman of the Board, ZIAN

Dr. Goodwin has spent more than a decade engaged in innovation across a broad range of medical therapies, with applications in academia and industry. She has a demonstrated track record for driving improved outcome metrics and process improvements that lead to increased transparency, efficiency and accountability. Prior to accepting the role of chief innovation officer at MUSC, Goodwin was vice president of development for the Zucker Institute for Applied Neurosciences, a technology accelerator working to develop and commercialize technologies generated by the department of Neurosciences at MUSC. Goodwin leads the therapeutics translation core for SCTR, and served as the deputy director for the MUSC Foundation for Research Development, the university’s technology transfer office responsible for managing intellectual property. Prior to joining MUSC, Goodwin was the director of the medical device practice of a Boston-based intellectual property consulting firm.

Sunil J. Patel, MD

Founder and Senior Advisor to the IAN Board of Trustees for Innovation and Research

Sunil J. Patel is a Professor and Clinical Chair of the Medical University of South Carolina Department of Neurosurgery, where he carries out an active teaching and research program. Dr. Patel specializes in brain tumors, neurovascular surgery, skull base surgery, facial pain, cranial neuropathies, gamma knife surgery, vertebral fracture program and kyphoplasty. He received his MD from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1985, and his undergraduate degree in Physics from Clemson University in 1981. He is board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery and is a member of numerous professional and scientific societies. Dr. Patel is the recipient of multiple awards and honors, including most recently the 2008 Pfizer Humanist Award, and has been a prolific author of articles and book chapters.

Dave Hemink

Hemink is a strategic and operational leader with diverse experience in Medical Devices, Healthcare Technology, broader Life Sciences, aerospace and defense.  Serving as CEO/President and in general management roles with full global P&L accountability, he has consistently delivered revenue and net income growth that exceeds market performance. His accomplishments have been focused on strategically driving organic growth in international markets including Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, Africa and startup operations in Latin America.

Dave is currently the CEO of Teamvantage, a privately held contract manufacturing company, where he provides strategic direction and executive leadership to a team of over 500 employees.  He is focusing on accelerating growth through innovation that spans a variety of healthcare, aerospace and defense verticals. Prior to Teamvantage, Dave was the CEO of Nonin Medical focusing on advance technology development for hospital, EMS, home-health, connected/eHealth and field military applications. Dave served as the President at Cantel Medical Corp. (NYSE: CMN), a leading provider of infection prevention and control products in the healthcare market as well as SVP & President at Boston Scientific Corporation. He also had a 10-year career in leadership roles at C.R. Bard, Inc. (NYSE: BCR). Earlier in his career Dave held sales and business development management positions at Abbott Vascular Devices, EMC Corporation, Boston Scientific, and AT&T.

He received his Masters in Business Administration degree from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management, and his B.A from California State University at Fresno.

William Himmelsbach

Bill retired as President and CEO of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation which is based in New York City, and is a not-for-profit academic research organization housing a pre-clinical lab, a clinical trials center and a medical education division. It is affiliated with Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. Prior to joining CRF, he was Senior Vice President at VHA and Executive Officer of its New York-based VHA Empire – Metro. VHA is a national health care alliance that provides supply chain management and clinical improvement services and supports the formation of regional and national networks to help members improve their clinical and economic performance. Before that, he held President and Chief Executive Officer positions at several hospitals and health care systems, including The Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut, Saint Mary’s Health Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Holy Cross Health System in South Bend, Indiana, Detroit Receiving Hospital and University Health System in Detroit, Michigan. He is currently a guest lecturer in the MHA Program at MUSC and at the BSN Program at USC-Beaufort and also serves on the advisory boards of two small private healthcare companies: Bright Whistle and Intralign. Bill holds a B.A. in Labor-Management Relations/Economics from Penn State University and a Masters in Public Health in healthcare administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Paul Kohlheim

Kohlheim has over twenty-four years of consulting experience, primarily in the health care industry. Throughout his career, Paul has worked with various academic medical centers, teaching hospitals, large health systems and regional hospitals to substantially improve business performance. He is a former Vice President with Huron Consulting Group. Prior to Huron, Paul served as the President and was an owner of Stockamp & Associates Inc., a privately held healthcare-consulting firm. Prior to Stockamp, Paul was a partner in Accenture’s global Health Services practice.

Mr. Kohlheim’s interests primarily focus on helping the under-served. He is actively involved with and supports a variety of non-profit organizations that address basic human needs, early childhood education and the root causes of poverty. In the Charleston area, he currently serves on the boards of Crisis Ministries, Charleston Promise Neighborhood and Porter-Gaud School.

Joseph C. McDonald

Mr. McDonald is the President and CEO of Belimed, Inc., a manufacturer of equipment for the medical and biopharmaceutical industries.  Prior to his work at Belimed, Mr. McDonald was the President and COO of Berchtold Corporation and held a variety of senior management and leadership positions at Steris Corporation.  Mr. McDonald holds a business degree from Gannon University and completed executive business programs at both Columbia University and the University of Chicago.

Larry Olanoff

Olanoff is Special Advisor to the President for Corporate Relations at MUSC. After a long career in the pharmaceutical industry, he retired from his last position as President and Chief Operating Officer (2006-2010) at Forest Laboratories, Inc. Dr. Olanoff was President and Chief Executive Officer of Celsion Corporation from 2005 to 2006. From 1995 until 2005, Dr. Olanoff was responsible for the leadership of research and development activities for Forest Laboratories, Inc., ultimately as its Executive Vice President-Scientific Affairs. From 1993 to 1995, Dr. Olanoff was Senior Vice President-Clinical Research and Development at Sandoz Pharmaceutical Corporation. From 1984 to 1993, Dr. Olanoff was employed by The Upjohn Company, where his last position was Corporate Vice President-Clinical Development and Medical Affairs.

Dr. Olanoff holds MD and PhD (Biomedical Engineering) degrees from Case Western Reserve University and was a medical resident and clinical pharmacology fellow at MUSC. He is the author or co-author of numerous scientific publications in the fields of clinical pharmacology, drug delivery and pharmacokinetics.