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Our Team
Founder &
Scientific Advisory Board Chair

Professor of Regenerative Medicine, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina Chape Hill

Dr. Cheng is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Veterinary Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University. He is now heading a research program at the interface of regenerative medicine and biomedical engineering. Prior to this position, Ke was an Assistant Professor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, where his research focused on stem cells and regenerative medicine in animal models. Ke also served as the director of the stem cell lab for multiple clinical trials including a clinical trial using a patient’s own cardiac stem cells to treat heart disease.

Scientific Advisory Board Member
Thomas Caranasos

Director of Adult Cardiac Surgery and Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Thomas Caranasos is the Director of Adult Cardiac Surgery and Medical Director of UNC Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) program. Dr. Caranasos specializes in adult cardiac and thoracic surgery including heart and lung transplantation and ventricular assist device (VAD) implantation. With special interest in aortic surgery including the ascending, arch pathology, thoracic aorta, and aortic root, transcatheter aortic valve surgery, mitral and aortic valvular surgery, minimally invasive approaches to cardiac surgery; video-assisted thoracic surgery.

General Counsel
Merrill Mason 

Partner at Smith Anderson

With extensive experience representing technology and life sciences companies, Merrill Mason represents entrepreneurial and emerging enterprises.

Prior to joining Smith Anderson, Merrill co-founded Triangle-based Hutchison + Mason in 1996 where his leadership helped the firm grow to 20 lawyers specializing in meeting the general corporate needs of technology and life sciences companies.

Passionate about working with developing entrepreneurs and law students, Merrill has taught as an adjunct instructor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and the University of North Carolina School of Law.

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