PICO Group

Postdoc Industry Consultants (PICO) logo

PICO is a bioscience consulting group comprised of postdoctoral fellows at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Our mission is to provide research-based, actionable business recommendations on key projects for biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. Concurrently, consultants broaden their business acumen and learn how to navigate the evolving biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.

PICO Team Photo 1

  • Types of Services
  • Who do we help?
  • Benefits
  • Former Members
  • FAQs
  • News


Using a team based approach, PICO provides short term consulting services for the complex challenges faced by start-up and second stage firms. Postdocs are highly skilled in conducting rigorous research and filtering through complex issues to formulate objective, research-based recommendations. Each team is made up of 2-3 consultants that will address the needs of your company. Projects typically completed within 2-6 months and each team member will commit 5-10 hours per week. There is no fee for our services.

Past projects have included:

  • Business plan drafting
  • Company valuation
  • Competitive benchmarking
  • FDA regulatory assessment
  • Identification of in- and out-licensing partner companies
  • Market research analysis
  • Price sensitivity analysis
  • Product commercialization
  • Product packaging
  • Targeted surveys
  • SBIR grant preparation


The PICO group works with companies, large and small, on projects that have the potential to impact company growth and development. Our target market is start-up and second stage bioscience companies.

PICO consultants leverage their scientific critical thinking skills to provide research-based, actionable business recommendations on key projects for regional biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. In return, client companies will offer a practical experience for business-minded postdocs in an industry setting.

PICO clients

Benefits to Postdocs

At the Medical College of Wisconsin, postdoctoral fellows are at the forefront of scientific research. The results of our work have the potential for global impact. For those who plan to transition to industry after the postdoctoral fellowship, PICO is an excellent opportunity to gain first-hand experience in industry and work on projects that positively impact local bioscience firms.

Working in highly integrated 2-3 person teams, consultants develop their business acumen, enhance soft skills, broaden their professional network, and enhance their knowledge of the business of science.

PICO places an emphasis on postdoc development. Many of our consultants are academics who are simply curious about bio-business, while others are working to hone their skills as they look to transition to industry. As a team, we participate in monthly development workshops, small group discussion, and large conferences where we rub shoulders with industry leaders from all over the world. Former members have gone on to become consultants, product specialists, bench scientists, and patent agents.

PICO Video Testimonial

Former PICO Members - Where are they now?

Mohammed Aldakkak, MD
MCW Anesthesiology
Research Scientist

Maria Angeles Baker, MT (ASCP), MBA
Graduate student in Physiology and Translational Science Program
Medical College of Wisconsin

Jason Bader, PhD
LI-CORE Biosciences
Field Applications Scientist

Jason Bazil, PhD
University of Michigan

Sarah Caudill, PhD
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Chen Chen, MD, PhD
Department of Microbiology
Medical College of Wisconsin

Stephanie Cossette, PhD
Pediatrics (MCW)

Karthika Divakaran, MS, PhD

Sheldon Garrison, PhD
Promentis Pharmaceuticals
Director of Pediatric and Rare Diseases

Adam Gastonguay, PhD
Nelson Mullins, LLP
Patent Agent

Hector Ahlers Guillen, PhD
Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Staff Scientist

Madelyn Hanson, PhD
Kantar Health
Research Analyst

Michael Harrison, MD, PhD
Physiology (MCW)

Brian Hoffmann, PhD
Medical College of Wisconsin
Assistant Professor

Pradeep Kannampalli, PhD
Medicine-Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Medical College of Wisconsin

Sushma Kommineni, PhD, MS, MS, BS
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology
Medical College of Wisconsin

Elizabeth Liedhegner, PhD
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Laboratory Manager II

XiaoQian Liu, PhD
Pharmacology and Toxicology (MCW)
Leadership Team Member, Consultant

Jered McGivern, PhD
Lakeland College
Assistant Professor

Ion Moraru, PhD
Quarles and Brady, LLP
Patent Scientist

Clarissa Muere, PhD
Vanderbilt University, Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC)
Licensing analyst

Prahlad Rao, PhD
Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Postdoctoral Scientist

Ben Stengel, PhD
Implementation Consultant

Léna Borbouse Watanabe, PhD
W.L. Gore & Associates
Aortic Product Specialist

Dustin Whitney, PhD
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Postdoctoral Fellow

Minde Willardsen, PhD
Sedulo Group
Market Research Analyst

Keith Wu
Medical College of Wisconsin

Ranjit S. Verma, PhD
Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Gang Xin, PhD
Blood Research Institute

Elizabeth Zakszewski, PhD
Neurosurgery (MCW)

Ling Zhong, PhD
MCW Neurology
Clinical Research Coordinator I

Michael Zickus, PhD
GreatPoint Energy
Analytical Chemist

When was PICO established?
PICO was established in 2011 by Dr. Philip S. Clifford (former MCW faculty member, currently at UIC) and Lena Watanabe (former MCW postdoctoral fellow) after a series of long discussions and meetings with selected industry representatives. They then recruited two more postdocs, Sheldon Garrison and Mike Zickus, to participate in the first PICO project.

How many companies/projects has PICO completed?
Since our establishment, we have completed over 30 projects for 16 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Our results have had a deep and meaningful impact for our clients who range from start-ups through well-established corporations.

How much does PICO charge for its services?
. PICO services are pro bono. Our payment is considered fulfilled by providing our consultants with hands-on experience and networking opportunities in exchange for actionable business recommendations. On occasion, some clients have been asked, or have offered, to present a workshop to the group on a variety of business related topics.

How does PICO train its consultants?
In addition to hands-on training through consulting projects, PICO regularly brings in guest speakers from various areas of business and biotech to speak on topics such as product valuation, finance, intellectual property, project management, regulatory affairs, etc. Knowledge and best practices are also shared among members in monthly meetings, which insures the flow of knowledge from senior members to new consultants.

PICO has also supported its members in attending national business-related meetings such as BIO, AUTM, and Bioforward. Through extensive networking and training, former PICO members have gone on to high impact positions in both industry and academia. Check out our former members!

A Postdoc in Transition: Experiences and Lessons Learned Along the Way
Adam Gastonguay
Appears in The Postdoc Way, a blog and resource for postdocs

Young Science Scholars Try Out Consulting As a Professional Plan B
Rebecca Koenig
Appears in Vitae, an online career hub for academics

Apply to be a Consultant

Recruitment and hiring occurs on a rolling basis and applications are always welcome.

To apply you must currently be a postdoctoral fellow from the Medical College of Wisconsin or University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Current graduate students at the Medical College of Wisconsin, please read the policy (PDF) and download the checklist (PDF) to complete.

If you are interested in joining our team, please download and submit the PICO application file (DOCX) and submit it along with your CV or resume to PICO@mcw.edu.

Donate to PICO


Muhammad Zeeshan Afzal, B-Pharm, PhDManager

Muhammad Zeeshan Afzal, B-Pharm, PhD
Medical College of Wisconsin


Julie Tetzlaff, PhDFaculty Advisor

Julie Tetzlaff, PhD
Office of Postdoctoral Education
Pathology Department
PICO Faculty Advisor

Karima Ait-Aissa, PhDKarima Ait-Aissa, PhD
Department of Medicine
Cardiovascular Center

Dusanka Djoric, PhDDusanka Djoric, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
Medical College of Wisconsin

Jaidip Jagtap, PhDJaidip Jagtap, PhD
Biomedical Engineering Department
Medical College of Wisconsin

Michael MashockMichael Mashock
Medical College of Wisconsin

Salvatore MolinoSalvatore Molino
Pediatric Department
Medical College of Wisconsin

Abdul K. Parchur, PhDAbdul K. Parchur, PhD
Biomedical Engineering
Medical College of Wisconsin

Fabian YuFabian Yu
Medical College of Wisconsin

Graduate Students

Eric Clark, BAEric Clark, BA
Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy
Translational Science Program
Medical College of Wisconsin

Emily GronsethEmily Gronseth
Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy
Medical College of Wisconsin

Ashley Reynolds, BScAshley (Reynolds) Cowie, BSc
Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy
Medical College of Wisconsin

Francie Moehring, BSFrancie Moehring, BS
Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy Department
Medical College of Wisconsin

Michael Reimer, BSMichael Reimer, BS
Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy
Medical College of Wisconsin