UK Entrepreneur Showcase

UK Entrepreneur Showcase Graphic Identifier

The UK Entrepreneur Showcase provides an opportunity for alumni entrepreneurs, student researchers and, UK innovators to showcase their entrepreneurial experiences, technologies, and/or startups, and make connections. 


UK Entrepreneur Showcase 2021

UK Entrepreneur Showcase is tentatively scheduled for April 8, 2021, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. ET in Ballroom 212A, Gatton Student Center. 

We look forward to hearing from alumni and student entrepreneurs, and faculty innovators at the UK Entrepreneur Showcase. 

2021 Presenters

Key Note Speakers: Elaine and Myron Jacobson, recipient of the inaugural Lee T. Todd Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship

Niadyne and Niadyne Pharma co-founders, Elaine and Myron (Mike) Jacobson have worked as a research team for nearly 50 years. Elaine received a B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry from Kansas State University and Mike received a B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Platteville, and the Ph.D. in biochemistry from Kansas State University. They completed postdoctoral research at the University of Utah and at the Mayo Clinic prior to beginning their faculty careers in the 1970s in Denton Texas, Elaine at Texas Woman’s University and Mike at the University of North Texas. After spending 1983 as visiting professors at the University of Hamburg in Germany, they joined the faculty at the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center (UNTHSC), Fort Worth, Texas, in 1985. In addition to their academic duties at UNTHSC, Elaine served as the director of the Division of Clinical Research in the Department of Medicine and Mike served as chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.  In 1992, they moved to the University of Kentucky (UK) where Mike served as chairman of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutics at the College of Pharmacy and Elaine joined the faculty of the Center for Nutritional Sciences in the College of Health Sciences. Both were also members of the UK Markey Cancer Center. They joined the faculty of the University of Arizona (UA) in 2000 and served in the College of Pharmacy and UA Cancer Center until their retirement in 2012. From 2012 to 2016, Mike served as the founding dean of the College of Pharmacy at the UNTHSC.

Their research has focused on understanding the roles of vitamin B3 and vitamin B3-derived molecules in human health. Their research in this area was continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for nearly 40 years and has led to more than 150 published papers and invited book chapters and more than 25 patents.  Loss of genomic integrity is a hallmark of cancer development and the involvement of the bioactive form of vitamin B3, NAD, in the maintenance of genomic integrity has been a major focus of their research. They organized international meetings on this topic in Fort Worth in 1987, New York City in 2001, and Tucson in 2008.

In 1998, the Jacobson’s efforts to translate knowledge of vitamin B3 function toward clinical applications led to the founding of Niadyne, Inc. This led to novel compounds designed for topical delivery of the niacin form of vitamin B3, resulting in commercial skincare products currently marketed worldwide. This technology development was supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Rapid Access to Prevention Intervention Development (RAPID) program and the NCI Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program, becoming one of the most commercially successful grants ever awarded by the NCI SBIR program.

In 2005, Myron and Elaine Jacobson received the Roger J. Williams Award in Preventive Nutrition, an international award for the discovery of new roles of nutrition in human health. In 2011, StriVectin skin damage repair products based on technology developed by the Jacobsons received the Skin Sense Award from the Skin Cancer Foundation, and they received the Innovation in Dermatology Award from the Cosmetic Surgery Forum. In 2015, Mike received a lifetime research achievement award from the American Pharmaceutical Association.

Luke Bradley, Faculty Innovator, Avast Therapeutics

Dr. Luke H. Bradley completed his undergraduate studies at Ohio University and received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Ohio State University. He was a Council of Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University, where he received training in peptide and protein chemistry. Dr. Bradley is currently a Chellgren Endowed Professor in the department of neuroscience at the University of Kentucky. He is also affiliated with the University of Kentucky’s Lewis Honors College, Neuroscience Major Executive Committee, Brain Restoration Center, and APP (Academic Preparation and Placement) Advisory Board. His research has focused on working on designing, synthesizing, characterizing and screening large collections of novel/synthetic candidate biomolecules rich in novel binding and enzymatic properties, with an application towards drug discovery for the treatment of neurological disorders. Based in part on this technology, Dr. Bradley co-founded and is the CEO of Avast Therapeutics.

Gilson Capilouto, Faculty Innovator, NFANT Labs

Gilson Capilouto Ph.D. is Professor Emerita in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky and co-founder and chief clinical officer for NFANT Labs, LLC. Atlanta, GA.  She has more than 35 years of clinical experience in the assessment and treatment of pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders and has focused her clinical research on neonatal feeding for the past eighteen years. Dr. Capilouto is co-inventor of an FDA cleared medical device to study issues related to neonatal sucking in preterm and sick term infants. Currently, NFANT products are being implemented in fifty-two facilities across the United States with an additional 40 facilities undergoing trial use. NFANT Feeding Solution, the company’s premiere product, has received numerous awards including 2018 finalist for SXSW Impact Pediatric Health Pitch Competition, Austin, TX, 2017 Breakthrough Technology of the Year from the Technology Association of Georgia, and 2015 recipient of the Georgia Bio Innovation Award

Johnathon Davis, Alumni Entrepreneur, Managing Partner & Advsor, JT Davis Asset Management, LLC

Johnathon Davis is CEO, founder, and managing partner at JT Davis Asset Management, a boutique investment firm in downtown Lexington, KY that specializes in aiding pre-retirees actively manage their individual 401K accounts. Given his various duties in banking, Mr. Davis also has more than 20 years of experience in project evaluation, term sheet construction, portfolio management, capital raise, and bringing new technologies to market. Johnathon graduated from the University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business in 1991, where he was also a three-year letter winner with the vaunted Wildcat basketball team. While there, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business marketing with an emphasis on business management. Mr. Davis has previously been registered as an Investment Company Products Principal (series 6, 63, and 26) with FINRA and is currently registered as a Uniform Investment Advisor (series 65). Since 1992, Mr. Davis has been a licensed member of the financial services community. He has served in many different capacities, including vice president and commercial lender with a Fortune 500 bank. Mr. Davis developed an entrepreneurial bent at an early stage in his business career. He has been involved in several tech ventures previous to taking a role as interim CFO and board member of Tabiri, Inc, a data analytics firm with offices in Lexington, KY; Kigali, Rwanda; Nairobi, Kenya; and Kampala, Uganda.

Tony Schmidt, Alumni Entrepreneur, CEO, GreekTrack

While at the University of Kentucky, Tony Schmidt joined a co-ed community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. To help with chapter operations, he built a membership management website that caught the eyes of chapters across the country thus he began selling it as a subscription service. With a new love for business, Tony went on to graduate with a Master Degree in engineering management from Case Western Reserve University before moving to Seattle for a career with Microsoft as a program manager for Dynamics CRM. He has recently returned to Kentucky to fully pursue his fraternity management software business: GreekTrack.

Kathryn Van Pelt, Alumni Entrepreneur, CEO and Co-Founder, Synaptek

Kate is a former collegiate ice hockey player turned concussion researcher. She received two Master’s degrees and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She has over 30 scientific publications examining concussions and brain injury and has worked with athletes, the military, and clinicians throughout her research endeavors. As both an athlete and researcher, Kate has experienced the issues with concussion care today. She is passionate about keeping athletes safe and enabling clinicians to make the best decisions for their health. Kate co-founded Synaptek to revolutionize concussion care and improve athlete well-being.

2019 Inaugural Event

The Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) in partnership with the UK Alumni Association and UK Philanthropy hosted the first annual UK Entrepreneur Showcase.

The program began with a keynote address from former UK President, Dr. Lee Todd Jr, who discussed his work as UK President and an entrepreneur. President Eli Capilouto spoke about the legacy Dr. Todd created and presented him with the first annual Office of Technology Commercialization’s Lee T. Todd Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurship