Biography
Ethan Mann, PhD
   Dr. Ethan Mann is a Vice President of Sharklet Technologies, Inc., an innovative surface technology company based in Aurora, CO. Mann has led many of Sharklet’s translational scientific studies aimed at demonstrating the use of microtextures for biological control. Dr. Mann holds a Bachelor of Science from Chadron State College and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska. He trained as a post-doctoral fellow in infectious disease at the Ohio State University. He studied how bacteria cause medical device-related infections. Mann is currently finishing his MBA in Finance at the University of Colorado, Denver. Mann currently serves on NIH review panels to evaluate small business innovation research grants which support commercialization of innovative technologies. He has been recognized as a “Distinguished Young Alumni” by his undergraduate institution. He volunteers for the Colorado Bioscience Association, serving on the board of directors and for service organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Boy Scouts of America.
    
    
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."
Benjamin Franklin


Extended Biography
 

Ethan Mann grew up in Wayne, Nebraska, in the north-east corner of the state. After graduating from high school at Wayne High, he enrolled at Chadron State College, in Chadron, Ne. He received an invited walked on position for the NCAA Division II Eagles football program playing wide receiver. As a sophomore, Mann was accepted into a new program called BRIN (now InBRE) which offered summer and school-year research fellowships to undergraduate students. The summer fellowships occurred at either the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, or Creighton University in Omaha.

After four years Mann graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a minor in biology. Knowing his future was not in football, Mann waived an extra year of NCAA eligibility and a year playing football with future NFL star Danny Woodhead and his brother Ben to enter graduate school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Ne. He was accepted into an umbrella program offering a PhD degree in one of several disciplines including biochemistry, oncology, physiology, pathology and microbiology. After completing three rotations in physiology, oncology, and microbiology, Mann decided to join Dr. Kenneth Bayles’ laboratory studying Staphylococcus aureus biofilm development. Bayles’ laboratory was new to the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) having just moved from the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID. Bayles was recruited to Omaha to provide genetic and physiologic talent in the microbiology department, especially relating to Gram-positive pathogens. He identified and characterized molecular components responsible for programmed cell death mechanisms in bacteria. Bayles was continuing that line of research at UNMC. During Mann’s time in the Bayles lab, the group published seminal papers identifying key models for studying S. aureus biofilm development and components of heterogeneity contributing to biofilm-related pathologies.

Following graduate school in 2010, Mann investigated alternative professional paths including legal science positions, business positions, and industry science positions. Ultimately having received advise to continue to develop reading, writing, and speaking skills, Mann continued training through accepting a post-doctoral position at the Ohio State University Medical Center with Dr. Daniel Wozniak. Wozniak focused his research in microbiology on studying the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a notably dangerous pathogen for Cystic Fibrosis patients. Wozniak identified critical polysaccharide components responsible for allowing P. aeruginosa to form persistent biofilms in Cystic Fibrosis lungs and on medical device surfaces. Mann’s research was focused on further understanding the function of polysaccharides and their contribution towards the pathogenesis of P. aeruginosa. Mann and Wozniak helped to develop animal models to study P. aeruginosa disease states. They concentrated on recapitulating common clinical presentations in the animal models of disease.

Mann spent three years working with Wozniak but chose to pursue interests in translating scientific findings to commercialization when Sharklet Technologies, Inc. offered Mann a position as a research associate. Mann was recruited by Sharklet to better describe how surface microtexture limits bacterial infections. Sharklet had licensed a technology concept from Dr. Anthony Brennan’s laboratory at the University of Florida several years prior, but had difficulty maturing the technology for medical devices due to the complexity of the biological models required to demonstrate the value proposition. Mann’s background was a natural fit to accomplish the critical scientific milestones necessary for Sharklet’s success. Mann led several studies using prototype medical devices implanted in IACUC-approved preclinical studies to demonstrate the value of Sharklet. Mann also partnered with other Sharklet scientists to help win Phase I and Phase II SBIR grants to support medical device development. Mann also created a unique device application for Sharklet and funded its development through the SBIR program.

These successful strategic activities resulted in title changes including Research Scientist/Preclinical Affairs Specialist and Director of Research and Development. As research and development continued to be integral to the success of Sharklet’s activities, supporting activities of licensee’s and potential partners, Mann moved in to Senior Director of Operations and then VP of Operations roles. This shift was also supported by Mann’s initiation of an MBA program at the University of Colorado, Denver. The MBA program immediately allowed for engagement of business perspective critical for Sharklet’s ongoing activities. Mann specialized in finance during his business studies. Concurrently, Mann was responsible for the majority of Sharklet day to day operations while working alongside Sharklet’s CEO, Mark Spiecker. Mann and Spiecker were dedicated to bringing critical medical device applications to commercialization to provide evidence for the validity of the Sharklet commercial opportunity.

While working with a furtune-500 strategic partner, Sharklet was approached by a Chinese-based firm call Peaceful Union about a financial exit. In the 18 months prior to the finalization of that deal, Spiecker and Mann completed several sub-deals to support the final acquisition. The sub-deals included new entity formation, in-licensing core technology elements for manufacturing, integration of merger technologies, and international regulatory approvals. Sharklet was able to successfully navigate many challenges but was able to finalize all the requisite steps.

Following the acquisition, and with new ownership structure, Spiecker exited Sharklet, but Mann remained with the company which continued to be based in Aurora, CO. Mann was named COO of Sharklet Technologies, Inc. Mann recruited two additional VPs to join the team in Aurora, CO. Mann was responsible for management of all operations in Denver and reported directly to the ownership. Manufacturing and engineering operations occurring in Wheeling, IL were consolidated and integrated to Denver shortly following the acquisition. With the new team in place in Aurora, Mann identified that it was critical to demonstrate the capability to support product development on a simple yet impactful product. The Sharklet team successfully designed and developed a pair of chopsticks having the Sharklet micropattern with marketable characteristics within a year of the acquisition and new ownership structure. This simple step proved to be critical to refine the engineering complexities of Sharklet and demonstrate the commercialization pathway for the technology.

Sharklet also continued to develop relationships allowing for the scalable production of cast fabrics, wide-web embossed film, and tubing extrusion. The intermediate products can be sold in a business to business mechanism and converted in to final products containing the Sharklet micropattern.

One year after the acquisition, Sharklet’s ownership elected to step in and take a more hands-on management of day-to-day operations. Mann was moved to a VP of Sales and Marketing role with Sharklet while the owners and a few select consultants maintained C-level titles within the organization. The reasoning for the structure change was to allow for more timely scale-up of Sharklet products, especially throughout Asia, and allowing the ownership to more actively manage company global strategy. Mann’s role became more focused within business development and new business relationship management. Sharklet continues to seek new and exciting business opportunities to provide a solution where smart surfaces are needed. Sharklet is also working to further develop, commercialize, and efficiently scale operations to support existing consumer and medical device product launch.