Who We Are

Our Story

We are visionaries and realists in the right proportions. We are after the holy grail of bringing tissue-engineered medical products to patients AND have a deep bench of expertise in what it takes to run a successful medical device company.

Vascudyne was founded by Jeff Franco and Kem Schankereli after a successful exit from Tendyne. Tendyne was a transcatheter mitral valve company that was acquired by Abbott in 2015 for $400 Million. Vascudyne leadership brings unique and minimally invasive delivery expertise alongside stent design technology for cardiovascular devices.

After evaluating several biomaterial technologies, Vascudyne picked a winner: the regenerative engineered tissue technology developed by Professor Robert Tranquillo and his team at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Robert Tranquillo, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and his team have been developing and fine-tuning the engineered tissue technology for decades, establishing its unique properties and regenerative potential. Professor Tranquillo along with key team member Dr. Zeeshan Syedain and colleagues have demonstrated the distinct advantages engineered tissue technology holds over existing therapies in a plethora of peer-reviewed publications of in vitro and pre-clinical in vivo studies.

Vascudyne licensed the engineered tissue technology from the University of Minnesota in December of 2018 and has been on a mission to accelerate its commercialization and get the technology out of the lab and into the hands of surgeons to benefit the millions of patients in need of replacement and repair tissues.

Dr. Zeeshan Syedain joined Vascudyne as its Chief Scientific Officer in 2021 in perfect alignment with the company’s mission: to improve patient care with regenerative biomaterials that are inspired by nature. And that is what Vascudyne is developing: TRUE Tissue technology that is inspired by nature.


The Vascudyne team is not just passionate about TRUE™ Tissue technology. They also love biking! Based in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes and over a thousand miles of trails, the team heads out on their bikes, rain or shine or snow.


Our Team

Kem Schankereli – Chief Executive Officer

Academically trained in biology and chemistry Kem’s scientific career has focused primarily on the industrial research and development of Class III biomedical devices. His work career accomplishments include the invention, research, development and commercialization of a number of world class products, including Hemashield, the first collagen coated vascular conduit, PeriStrips, the first lung volume reduction staple line buttressing product, MitralSeal, the first transcatheter mitral valve prosthesis, and ArterX, a surgical sealant. Kem co-founded Tendyne Holdings, Inc., a private medical device company focused on developing minimally invasive mitral valve replacement therapies, that was acquired by Abbott in 2015.

Rick Murphy – Chief Operating Officer

Rick has over 20 years of experience working with both large and small medical device development companies including Boston Scientific, Bayer, SurModics and Disc Dynamics. Rick has made many individual and leadership contributions in the development and manufacturing of regulatory approved Class III medical devices having clinical data including: DASCOR nucleus replacement system, Bayer’s Cotavance drug-coated balloon, SurModics SurVeil drug-coated balloon, as well as others. Rick holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Mark Stenoien – Vice President, Regulatory & Clinical

Mark brings over 30 years of hands-on leadership in research, development, clinical, quality systems, regulatory affairs and business management in start-up environments through high growth and acquisition. He specializes in bringing innovative medical devices from concept to commercialization, designing efficient clinical and regulatory pathways and negotiating effectively with regulators. Mark has more than 58 US regulatory approvals / clearances to his credit, including IDE, PMA, 510(k), De Novo and Humanitarian Device Exemption, and a similar number of international authorizations, in a variety of fields including cardiovascular implants, transcatheter therapies, brain injury diagnostics, combination drug-device, capital electromedical equipment and disposables. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Cory Pries – Quality Director

Cory holds degrees in Quality Management and Manufacturing Management from the University of Minnesota and brings over 20 years of experience in the industry. Cory has developed, implemented, and managed quality programs at both cutting edge startups as well as Fortune 100 companies. Cory’s expertise lies in Quality, Compliance, and Lean-Six Sigma based process improvement initiatives.

Kate Gahlbeck – Bioprocess Scientist

Kate joined the Vascudyne team in 2020, bringing along her experience developing novel medical devices based on the utilization of extracellular matrices. She has been involved in product development efforts from the initial research and development stage to preliminary process scale-up and manufacturing. Kate holds a bachelor’s degree in Biomolecular Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Professor Robert Tranquillo – Inventor

Professor Robert Tranquillo – Inventor
Prof. Tranquillo received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1986 from the University of Pennsylvania. He was a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Mathematical Biology at Oxford for one year before beginning his appointment in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science at the University of Minnesota in 1987. He served as the head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering from its inception in 2000 until 2019. Prof. Tranquillo has used a combined modeling and experimental approach to understand cell behavior, in particular, directed cell migration, and cell-matrix mechanical interactions. More recently, his research program has focused on the role of these cell behaviors in cardiovascular and neural tissue engineering applications. His research program has resulted in over 100 peer-reviewed original research publications as first or senior author and in being recognized with the TERMIS-AM Senior Scientist Award in 2015. Prof. Tranquillo is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering, and the Biomedical Engineering Society, and a Distinguished McKnight University Professor.

Dr. Zeeshan Syedain – Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Syedain has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota with 15 plus years of R&D experience in academia and industry in biotechnology and medical device development. Dr. Syedain is a co-inventor on the tissue engineered blood vessel and heart valve technology licensed to Vascudyne. Dr. Syedain is lead author on several high-profile publications in prestigious journals including PNAS, Nature Communication and Science Translational Medicine. Previously, Dr. Syedain had leadership R&D positions at PowerScope Tech, MSP Corporation (acquired by TSI Inc) and AbbeVision Inc with successful funding through NIH SBIR program, new product commercialization, and business development I-CORP program.

Allie Haarstad – Senior Engineer and Manufacturing Lead

Allie comes with experience working in the field of regenerative medicine, working to advance tissue engineered based devices to commercial scale. She has experience in research and development, product development, and manufacturing. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. She performed research in the cardiovascular tissue engineering lab at the University of Minnesota garnering experience with the technology which is now licensed to Vascudyne and received a grant for her work on the endothelial seeding of a tissue engineered heart valve.

Mariah McMahon – Bioprocess Scientist

Mariah received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Minnesota and has carried on research in both academic and manufacturing settings. She has several scientific papers in preparation from her work in Dr. David Odde’s Laboratory at the University of Minnesota Biomedical Engineering Department characterizing the effect extracellular matrix composition and mechanical properties of the tumor microenvironment have on cancer cell migration and invasion. She also brings a thorough knowledge of GMP practices and cell culture production from her experience at Bio-techne.


As an experienced team startup, we pride ourselves in right-sizing our facilities and investing in accomplishing critical milestones. Our manufacturing facilities feature state-of-the-art equipment for cell harvesting from human foreskin tissue, cell expansion, tissue development and maturation, and TRUE™ Tissue storage. Onsite cell and tissue characterization and mechanical testing instruments allow us to quickly and efficiently evaluate cell and tissue properties and perform validation testing and quality control. The facility is operated under cGMP standards paving the path for full compliance.

Ways We Can Work Together

Are you in awe about what 100% biological tissue can do for patients? So are we! We’d love to chat with you about how we can work together to bring this technology to more patients faster.

Here are a few ideas for how we can work together:

  • You’re looking for a truly biological biomaterial for your product design
  • You’re working on a unique soft tissue application and want to evaluate TRUE™ Tissue technology
  • You’re fascinated by the technology and want to invest in its success
  • You’re super talented and want to join our team
  • You’d like to geek out about tissue-engineered medical products

It’s super easy to get in touch with us: reach out at true@vascudyne.com.

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Copyright 2021 | Vascudyne, Inc.