Meet the Team

The Wake Forest Innovations Team

Wake Forest Innovations improves health through collaborative innovation and is a gateway between industry and the faculty and staff of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. We are your dedicated resource for navigating and simplifying collaboration. Our team experts help accelerate the development of innovative new products, medical breakthroughs, and access to preclinical and clinical research opportunities.

Industry Research Collaboration

Whether you are conducting preclinical research or clinical studies, we can streamline your industry-sponsored research—making industry and academic partnerships as easy and productive as possible.

Sue Appt

Sue Appt, DVM

Associate Director, Preclinical Translational Services

As leader of Preclinical Translational Services, Susan Appt ensures that her team of surgical and technical staff have access to the resources they need to support faculty and industry studies at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Wake Forest School of Medicine. Appt draws from her extensive expertise in large animal studies and model development to guide and manage preclinical studies supported by her team. She brings a “team player” philosophy to her job and is passionate about helping each person accomplish their part of the team’s mission.

Heather Deloid

Heather Deloid, DVM

Associate Surgical Research Veterinarian

Heather DeLoid works with industry partners and researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to coordinate surgical and veterinary clinical support for preclinical studies, often serving as the lead surgeon with a team of veterinary technicians. She pulls from her experiences in preclinical contract research, the medical device industry and clinical veterinary practice to design and perform studies. An outgoing person, DeLoid enjoys interacting with a variety of clinicians, researchers and industry sponsors to build relationships and foster collaboration.

Erica Hale

Erica Hale, MS

Project Manager, Alliance Management

Erica Hale coordinates and supports industry-funded clinical research conducted by the clinicians and researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. With more than 15 years of conducting clinical trials, Hale uses her experience in both clinical trials management and research to build and maintain successful academic-industry relationships. Her passion is helping Wake Forest Baptist faculty make new discoveries through successful partnerships.

Jade Lackey

Jade Lackey

Project Manager

Jade Lackey provides support for preclinical industry-sponsored research through study design, data collection methods and strategies for data management, in addition to serving as a liaison between study sponsors and researchers. She brings valuable scientific experience from her extensive background working in nonhuman primate research. Because of her outgoing personality, Lackey enjoys building relationships with both faculty and industry sponsors.

Susan Martelle

Susan Martelle, PhD

Project Manager

Susan Martelle develops and supports collaborative relationships with faculty members and aligns their academic interests with industry partners. She understands the challenges of scientific research and is adept at reading and interpreting preclinical and clinical data sets from her own work as a principal investigator. This experience gives her a unique perspective as a researcher, which helps her forge partnerships between industry and faculty. Being detail-oriented, Martelle quickly ingests important information and easily organizes it to achieve the team’s goals.

Ken Szeliga

Ken Szeliga, MS

Program Director, Alliance Management

Ken Szeliga leads the Alliance Management team that builds collaborative relationships between the researchers and clinicians of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and industry partners. His focus is streamlining processes and investing in the members of Wake Forest Baptist to facilitate industry-sponsored preclinical and clinical research. His unique blend of experience in both academia and industry helps him bridge the two worlds and create partnerships that he believes are essential to improving medical technologies and treatments.

Technology Innovation & Commercialization

We help Wake Forest Baptist researchers transform inventive ideas into medical technologies. We partner with industry to license our innovative therapeutics, vaccines, medical devices or diagnostic products.
Katherine Brown

Katherine Brown

Senior Patent Agent

Katherine Brown oversees the intellectual property portfolio for Wake Forest Innovations and ensures compliance for federally funded inventions.  With prior experience as a paralegal and now a patent agent, Brown has developed a deep knowledge of the patent process and how to apply the right strategies to protect inventions. Passionate about her role in improving health and bringing technologies to fruition, Brown loves learning and applying new knowledge to all areas of her work.

Philip Brown

Philip Brown, PhD

Innovations Associate

Philip Brown helps faculty members turn their ideas into functioning medical devices by developing and validating prototypes. His background in biomedical engineering and 3D printing gives him the skills and resources to design and produce quality prototypes quickly and efficiently. Self-described as “extremely curious,” he relishes the opportunity to dive deep into new projects or technologies—from stents and syringes to implants and surgical tools.

John Druga

John Druga, MS, MBA

Licensing Director, Technology Commercialization

John Druga works with both inventors and industry to usher new medical technologies to the marketplace by matching technologies with the best industry fit. With a background in product development, biomedical engineering and finance, Druga brings a wealth of experience to the commercialization of medical technologies. His natural curiosity drives his understanding of the marketplace and his motivation for helping advance ideas from inventions to innovations.

Stefan Grant

Stefan Grant, MD, JD, MBA

Director, Intellectual Property Strategy and Management

Grant helps Wake Forest Baptist faculty develop robust intellectual property, providing scientific, medical, legal and business advice about technologies and their commercialization prospects. His varied background in medicine, law and business—including time as the general counsel of a pharmaceutical company and a practicing intellectual property attorney—provides him with a unique perspective on technology development and commercialization. Grant has a willingness to explore alternative approaches to problems and believes that honest disagreement can help provide better solutions, an outlook he brings to the table when protecting and developing technologies.

Deepika Poranki

Deepika Poranki, PhD

Senior Innovations Associate

Deepika Poranki works hands-on with inventors, helping them evaluate their technologies and guiding individual projects—primarily therapeutics—through the stages of development. She understands both sides of commercializing medical technologies through developing a keratin biomaterial as a preclinical researcher and from working in business development for a biopharma start-up. Her love of “talking science” makes her excited about working with inventors and helping them blaze a trail for their inventions.

Kenneth Russell

Kenneth Russell

Director of Technology Innovation

Kenneth Russell helps inventors turn their ideas and inventions into licensable medical devices. After more than 25 years in the medical devices industry, his expertise aids academic inventors in creating quality devices that are valuable to industry partners by using the resources of Wake Forest Innovations to design, test and develop commercially-ready medical devices. The guiding principle of his work is improving patient care by connecting the medical device industry to academic inventors.

Dean Stell

Dean Stell, MBA

Associate Director

Dean Stell leads out-licensing efforts for a portion of the Center’s proprietary technologies and runs the Center’s alliance management function. He has spent the bulk of his career contributing to the commercialization of academic-stage technologies and that makes him successful in a broad range of areas.

Osama Zahid

Osama Zahid, PhD


Osama Zahid partners with Wake Forest Baptist researchers to evaluate the commercialization potential of their innovative technology ideas. Zahid earned a master’s degree in biotechnology and a PhD from Wake Forest University, developing single-molecule diagnostic tools for disease detection. His experience helps him identify with the scientific process of potential inventors while helping them discover their idea’s potential in the marketplace. A natural extrovert, Zahid has a passion not only for seeing science actualized, but also for networking and building relationships with researchers.