Ben Sajdak, PhD

Credentials: Director of Emerging Animal Models , Fauna Bio, Inc.
Adjunct Professor of Biology, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh


Ben Sajdak


AA 2006, Marketing, Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, WI
BS 2013, Biology and Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI
PhD 2018, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI

Dr. Sajdak’s goals are two-fold: (1) To find more translatable animal models for disease and (2) to learn from the natural abilities found in mammals to develop disease treatments. Fauna Bio is a company dedicated towards using extreme trait animal genomics for human health. Dr. Sajdak and his company work with the 13-lined ground squirrel, a rodent that uses its sight during the day (like us, but unlike traditional laboratory rodents), and has remarkable disease resistant abilities that accompany its annual hibernation cycle. When their body goes through long periods of metabolic dormancy called “torpor,” the 13-lined ground squirrel deactivates its vision entirely and its cone photoreceptor cells lose structural integrity and become non-functional. When this ground squirrel emerges from hibernation, it rapidly regenerates its cones and its vision returns within hours. This is just one example of protective physiological abilities found in mammals, and the associated genes responsible for these abilities are also found in us humans. This strategy provides the basis for treatment discovery for retinal disease, diabetes, obesity, and more.