Speaker Details

Betsy Ohlsson-Wilhelm, PhD


Early Training: Betsy started her professional education with an AB cum laude in Biochemistry (1963) and a PhD in Bacteriology (1969) from Harvard University. She did postdoctoral work in Biophysics (development of bacteriophage SP01) under Peter Geiduschek at the University of Chicago and created and isolated Cold Sensitive Somatic Cell Mutants under Jerry Freed and Bob Perry at the Fox Chase Center for Cancer Research in Philadelphia.

Academic Roles: She joined the faculty at the University of Rochester School of Medicine as Assistant Professor of Microbiology and rose to Associate Professor of Microbiology and Medicine, Genetics. She team-taught both Clinical Microbiology and Human Genetics to medical students as well as developed a graduate-level course on Somatic Cell Genetics that attracted both senior level undergraduate and graduate students from three different departments. She was a member of the Microbiology graduate education committee. Her major research focus was on temperature-sensitive somatic cell mutants of Chinese Hamster Ovary cells and the haploid frog cell line ICR 2A. She created mAbs to aid in characterization of somatic cells and was introduced to flow cytometry by Paul Horan and Jim Leary. While at UR, she also collaborated with Peter Rowley to characterize the differentiation pathways of hematopoietic cells. She was subsequently recruited to the Pennsylvania State School of Medicine at Hershey as Associate Professor of Microbiology and Medicine, Endocrinology. Again, she team-taught medical students the rudiments of clinical microbiology. She founded the Cell Identification and Cell Kinetics Laboratory, served as the Site Immunologist for the AIDS Clinical Trials Group of the NIH, and became interested in characterizing the heterogeneity present in hormone-dependent cancer cell lines. While there she also served as Director of the Flow Cytometry Facility and helped others create a variety of mAbs as well as to construct a BSL3 level facility where she grew, cloned, and characterized HIV and its infective life cycle in different cell types. During this time, she began over 30 years of reviewing a variety of different types of grant applications – including the Shared Instrumentation Grant applications – for the NIH.

Small Business Roles: She left academia in 1993 to join an early start-up, Zynaxis, Inc., as Sr. VP of R&D and worked on developing various drugs and research reagents based on a variety of proprietary molecules. After the different research areas and potential drugs developed by Zynaxis were acquired by several different parties, she and Kathy Muirhead co-founded SciGro, Inc. She has served as CEO of SciGro since its founding in 1996 and is pleased to indicate that Paul Wallace joined SciGro as a full partner and CSO in 2022.

SciGro’s mission is to “Turn science into products for growing companies” and has helped several hundred companies develop millions of dollars in non-dilutive funding to support rapid translation of research and preclinical stage technology into products for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical diagnostics, and life sciences industries. Typical clients include investors, founders, CEOs, CSOs, and licensing, technology development, or business development officers.

Volunteer Activities: Betsy has served on the ISAC council, currently chairs the ISAC CYTO Innovation Committee, and manages the Innovators section of the ISAC Leadership Development Program. She also serves as a reviewer for a variety of granting organizations including Mass Ventures and research projects at Northeastern University. She was a member of the founding steering committee of the Great Lakes International Imaging and Flow Cytometry Association (GLIIFCA) and also founded the New England Women in Science Executives (NEWISE) club where she served as VP for 8 years.