Advisory Board

Current Board Members

Daniel M. Albert, MD, is the Founding Director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute.

Rose Barroilhet, MA, is the Chair of the McPherson ERI Advisory Board. Rose served as Director of Space Management at the University of Wisconsin, retiring in 2006 after 35-plus years of service at the University. She began her career at the UW as a planning analyst within the division of student services, then held various positions within the Registrar’s Office culminating in the directorship of the Timetable and Class Scheduling Office. In this capacity, she spearheaded efforts to transform the curricular database supporting the timetable publication and the class scheduling processes from semi-automated to fully automated and then to touchtone systems. Beginning in 1983 as Director of Space Management, Rose managed over 16 million sq. ft. of campus space and approximately one million sq. ft. of university leasehold properties. During her tenure as director, Rose moved campus space allocation processes from a static, status-based evaluation to a need-based, resource assessment. In 1993, Rose took on the responsibility of Campus Capital Budget Administration with direct oversight of the University’s biennial Capital Building Program. During her years of service in this capacity, the University achieved over $2.4 billion dollars in approved capital projects. Throughout her career, Rose has been an active participant in national professional organizations.

Petros Carvounis, MD, is a graduate of the University of Cambridge (B.A., M.A.) and the University of Oxford where he completed his medical degree (2000). He completed specialty training at the Mayo Clinic, the George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.  Dr. Carvounis currently has a busy retina practice (Macula Vitreous Retina Physicians & Surgeons) and serves as Clinical Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Texas Medical Branch and as Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the George Washington University.  Dr. Carvounis has authored over 60 papers and book chapters and given over 100 presentations and courses at meetings.  He has received the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Achievement Award (2014), the American Society of Retina Specialists Honor Award (2013), was voted one of the top 40 ophthalmologists under 40 internationally (2015), has been voted annually as one of the Best Doctors in America 2009-2016, and received a top doctors award from Houstonia magazine (2016).  Dr Carvounis is a keen tennis player and an avid equestrian, and enjoys windsurfing, snowboarding, the opera and travel. Dr. Carvounis is married to Sepi Carvounis, D.D.S., a native Houstonian; the couple had their first daughter, Eleni, in August 2016.

Marshall Flax, MS, CLVT, COMS, is a Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT) and a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). After earning his MS in rehabilitation from UW-Madison, Marshall worked in the field of blindness rehabilitation for over 30 years as an orientation and mobility specialist and as a low vision therapist. He was employed by the UW-Madison Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (’82-’91) and the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (’92-’14).  While with the Council, he provided services throughout Wisconsin at sites that included University Station Eye Clinic, Davis Duehr Dean Eye Clinic (Madison), Monroe Clinic, and the Center for Deaf-Blind Persons (Milwaukee). He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP), the past-chair of ACVREP Low Vision Certification Committee, and currently serves on the ACVREP Low Vision Therapist Subject Matter Experts Committee. Marshall is also a member of the editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. In retirement, Marshall provides orientation and mobility services in the greater Madison area, and makes and sells low vision simulators through his company, Fork in the Road Vision Rehabilitation Services. He teaches graduate courses in low vision for teachers of the visually impaired through Silver Lake College and UW-Platteville, and volunteers on the Outreach Committee of the McPherson ERI.

Ken Frazier was Director of the UW-Madison Libraries from 1992 to 2011, and held various positions within the library system beginning in 1978. Under Ken’s leadership, the libraries created one of the nation’s most extensive digital library collections. He received his master’s degree in librarianship from the University of Denver and his undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Kansas. Ken also served as the interim Director of the UW Division of Information Technology (DOIT) as the campus’ Chief Information Officer. On the national level, Frazier is the past-president of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). He has chaired an ARL committee charged with the responsibility to develop a national digitization strategy to provide open access to all federal documents via the Internet. He is also the founder of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), which is an ARL-sponsored initiative that advocates reducing the cost of research information by promoting competition and technical innovation in scholarly publishing.

Don Gray, PhD, retired as vice president for principal gifts from the University of Wisconsin Foundation, where he worked on behalf of the UW-Madison for 23 years. Prior to joining the UW Foundation, Don was dean at the two-year UW-Richland Center Campus. Don received his PhD degree from Michigan State University in Inorganic Chemistry following a 2-year assignment with the Peace Corps in Malawi, Africa. He has his undergraduate degree in mathematics and chemistry from Mount Union College. For four years he taught university level chemistry and was Dean of Science at the National University of Lesotho in Lesotho, Africa. In retirement, Don continues chairing the national CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) conference Development for Deans and Academic Leaders and directs the local Fundraising and Development Conference for Nonprofits in Madison. He also remains active in Africa as vice president of the foundation board for the Malawi Children’s Village.

Chad Jackson, PhD, is currently the Senior Director of the Preclinical Translational Research program at the Foundation Fighting Blindness. In this role, Dr. Jackson oversees the Translational Research Acceleration Program (a grants program) that accelerates potential therapies and cures for retinal disease from the laboratory toward clinical trials. He has decades of experience in science and technology development and is dedicated to advancing biological research for the betterment of human health, national security, and global challenges. Dr. Jackson holds degrees from Earlham College (B.A.; Biochemistry) and Emory University (Ph.D.; Molecular and Systems Pharmacology) and has leveraged this training to focus his energy on impacting visual health, and advance emerging technologies and science policy. Before joining the Foundation, he held several positions in support of the U.S. Department of Defense, most notably serving the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a Senior Science & Technology Advisor where he advised on emerging biotechnologies with a focus on national security. Chad holds additional volunteer board positions as the Vice Chair on the Board of Directors at Seeding Labs and as a member of the Board of Trustees at Earlham College (Richmond, IN). Dr. Jackson was born as raised in Xenia, Ohio, and now resides in Richmond, Virginia.

James Roland Johnsen, MA, EdD, is an American academic and businessman. He has served in several public and private sector roles during his career, most notably as the 14th president of the University of Alaska system from July 2015 until July 2020.

Karen Medema, a member of the Trout family of Appleton, WI, spent 10 years in the food industry working for Jewel Foods and Quaker Oats, and as the Midwestern Regional Sales Manager for Domino Sugar. She and her husband Tom raised five children living in Bermuda—then in Pennsylvania—and for the past 16 years in Appleton, WI. Karen is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Champaign (although she is currently outnumbered by her many Badger family members). Karen will represent and carry on the Trout family legacy with the McPherson Eye Research Institute.

Nicholas Manusos, MBA, is CEO of Ryne Bio, an iPSC based cell therapy company.  Previously, he was Chief Operating Officer of FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics Inc. (FCDI) overseeing the drug discovery and cell therapy divisions.  Since joining the organization in 2018, he has transformed the drug discovery division into a growth engine while developing a strategic vision for cell therapies.  Manusos has also forged many new relationships with key industry leading companies on behalf of FCDI.  Prior to joining FCDI, he held senior executive positions at Baxter Healthcare, Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company and Abbott Laboratories where he played key roles in successful M&A, strategic transactions, integration and general management.  He received his MBA from Northwestern University, J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management and his BBA, Operations Management from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Nancy A. Mills, JD, is currently a practicing attorney and mediator, concentrating in Family Law, particularly in the areas affecting the support, custody and placement of children. She serves as a volunteer attorney with Legal Action of Wisconsin, supervises law school students in the Marquette University Mediation Clinic, and is also a CASA volunteer. She received her undergraduate degree cum laude from Mount Mary College, Milwaukee, and an additional major in applied fine arts from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, an M.A. from Villanova University, and a J.D. and Certification in Dispute Resolution from Marquette University. Her work experience includes teaching on both the high school and college level. Nancy was a founding director of Hearthstone Historic Illuminated House in Appleton, a founding board member of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, a board member of LEAVEN of the Fox Cities, and a volunteer for the Fox Valley Humane Society.  She is an avid reader, golfer and bridge player, and enjoys travel with family and friends.

Harry Roth, MD, was a flight surgeon with the United States Air Force from 1963-1965, and was decorated with an Air Medal and a Bronze Star in 1965. He was a General Motors Scholar at Ohio State University, and earned his medical degree at Case Western Reserve University. He completed his residency in ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin and was a Heed Fellow at the University of California-San Francisco in glaucoma. Dr. Roth is retired from Davis Duehr Dean in Madison, where he had practiced ophthalmology since 1970, and had also served as Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Wisconsin. He is a member of the Chazen Museum of Art Council.

Jay L. Smith is Chairman of TEEL Plastics, a company he purchased with his children in 1999.  After graduation from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1963, Smith joined Fordem Company, a family owned packaging business. He was named President in 1967, and was instrumental in transitioning the business into the technical field of sterilizable packaging, where it became the North American market leader in sterilizable medical packaging.  Smith engineered Fordem’s merger with DRG PLC of Bristol, England, to create DRG Medical Packaging—the world’s largest manufacturer of medical packaging.  He served as President of DRG Packaging, LLC, the conglomerate’s worldwide business, until its sale to Bowater Plc, at which time he retired to form the JLS Investment Group Inc., a family business investing in minority and control positions in companies with technologies of interest.  Since purchasing TEEL Plastics, the company has won the 2015 MOTY award (Manufacturer of the Year) as Wisconsin’s best midsized Manufacturing Business.  Smith has served, and continues to serve, on numerous business and public boards. He has a particular interest in education, serving (as Governor Thompson’s appointee) on the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents as a member, chair of the Education Committee, and Vice President.  In 2000 and 2001, he was elected President of the UW System Board of Regents.  Smith also coordinated and co-chaired Wisconsin’s first three Statewide Economic Summits. His hobbies include skiing, golf, sailing and travel.

David Steffen is a Wisconsin State Representative who was first elected to office in 2014 and re-elected in 2016 and 2018. David is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and began his private sector career in government relations soon after graduation. In 2000, David was hired by the Green Bay Packers to facilitate their campaign efforts relating to a $300 million expansion of Lambeau Field. The success of this project paved the way for the new $130 million Titletown District currently under construction adjacent to Lambeau Field. David also spent twelve years in the education and non-profit sectors, most notably as the Director of Operations for the Legislative Leadership Institute Academy of Foreign Affairs (LLIAFA). David’s responsibilities with LLIAFA included in-country logistics and operational oversight of educational programming in Dublin, Ireland; Baku, Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, Georgia; Bern, Switzerland and Kigali, Rwanda. David now resides in Howard, Wisconsin with his wife and son. He continues to own multiple businesses while serving as State Representative, including an organic food distribution company and a management agency that assists international authors and public speakers.

Roger Van Vreede and Lynn Van Vreede are retired philanthropists in Appleton, WI, with a strong interest in research, the environment and gardening, music, and the arts.

David G. Walsh, JD, a retired partner with Foley and Lardner and former managing partner, was a member of the firm’s Government and Public Affairs Practice and the Sports Industry Team. He also had an extensive estate planning practice, and counseled clients and families on business succession and wealth management and transfer. Mr. Walsh has served as chairman of the Wisconsin State Elections Board, is a member and former secretary of the Dane County Bar Association, is a member of the Board of Directors of National Guardian Life Insurance Company, Alkar-RapidPak, Inc. and has served as president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. He currently serves as Chair of the UW Hospital and Clinics Authority Board. Mr. Walsh received his bachelor’s degree, with honors, in 1965 from UW-Madison, and in 1997 received the Distinguished Business Alumnus Award from the University’s School of Business. His J.D. degree was conferred in 1970 by Harvard Law School. On a personal note, Mr. Walsh has two sons with Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by partial or total hearing loss accompanied by gradual vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

Gerard Xavier, MS, recently retired after several decades on the counseling faculty of Madison Area Technical College.


Past Board Members

Marv Conney retired as C.E.O. of Conney Safety Products Co., Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked from 1952 until 1998. Marv received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1950. He grew up in Ripon, Wisconsin, dropping out of high school in 1945 to join the Navy. Marv attended Ripon College as a freshman in 1946, transferring to UW Madison in 1947, where he met the love of his life Mildred “Babe” Golper. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in October, 2016, before Babe’s passing in November of that year. In 1952 Marv joined his father, Nat Conney in the start-up of what became Conney Safety Products, a distributorship of Protective Clothing, Personal Safety Equipment and First Aid Supplies. Babe and Marv are the proud parents of David Conney and Lisa Conney Rosenstock and they rejoice in their four granddaughters, Jayme, Kylie, Lauren, and Mara Rosenstock. When Marv retired in 1998, he wanted to “pay back” in the community and prior to associating with MERI and Dr. David Gamm, Marv served on the Advisory Boards of University of Chicago Medical Center, Biological Sciences Division; Foundation for Neurologic Diseases, Harvard Medical Center; Hillel, University of Wisconsin; HospiceCare Inc. Holdings, Madison, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison Opera, Madison Symphony Orchestra, United Way of Dane County, University of Wisconsin Center for Jewish Studies, and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television.  Together with Mildred Conney, he served on the Advisory Board of the McPherson ERI.  We are sorry to note that Marv Conney passed away on March 25, 2021.

Paul M. DeLuca, Jr., PhD, served as UW-Madison’s Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs from 2009 to 2014. Previously, he served as chair of the Department of Medical Physics from 1987 through 1998; he currently holds an appointment as professor in the Departments of Medical Physics, Radiology, Human Oncology, Engineering Physics and Physics. In 1999, DeLuca assumed a role in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health as associate dean for research and graduate studies; he was appointed vice dean in 2001. In that role, he was closely involved with the development of the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research. Professor DeLuca’s research interests have concentrated on fast neutron dosimetry including production of intense sources of fast neutrons, determination of elemental neutron kerma factors and application of microdosimetry to radiation dosimetry. DeLuca is an internationally recognized expert in high energy particle radiation effects on humans. He is currently a member and Vice Chairman of the International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements.

Carl E. Gulbrandsen, PhD, JD, was longtime Managing Director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). WARF is the patent management organization for the University of Wisconsin Madison. He had a Ph.D in physiology and a J.D. degree, both from UW –Madison. Gulbrandsen was with WARF from October 1997 until July 2016. Prior to becoming its Managing Director in 2000, Gulbrandsen was WARF’s Director of Patents & Licensing. Prior to his employment at WARF, Gulbrandsen was General Counsel of Lunar Corporation and Bone Care International. Both companies developed and commercialized technologies arising from research at UW-Madison. Gulbrandsen was Vice Chair and a board member of the Morgridge Institute for Research. He also served on the Board of WiCell Research Institute. Gulbrandsen was admitted to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and served as a member of the Patent Public Advisory Council for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Gulbrandsen and his wife, Mary, have three children and three grandchildren.  We are sorry to note that Carl Gulbrandsen passed away on October 17, 2022.

Alice McPherson, MD, was the founder and President of the Retina Research Foundation in Houston, TX.