Meet the Team That Makes Likarda Great

Lisa Stehno-Bittel, PhD
President & Founder

Lisa Stehno-Bittel began her career in health care as a physical therapist. With more than 25 years of research experience in the fields of cell biology and diabetes, she has over 60 publications in scientific journals and has received more than $9 million in grant funding for her research. Lisa is on the faculty at the University of Kansas Medical Center and serves as president and founder of Likarda, LLC. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, a PhD from the University of Missouri, and completed a pharmacology fellowship at the Mayo School of Medicine. Lisa has received numerous awards, including the Outstanding Faculty Research Award from the University of Kansas Medical Center and the Jim Baxendale Commercialization Award.

Lisa enjoys water and snow skiing and traveling with her husband and kids. One of her favorite annual trips is heading to Sturgis each year on her motorcycle.

Review Lisa’s recent research and publications.

Karthik Ramachandran, PhD
Vice President & Founder

Karthik Ramachandran has always had a passion for merging his activities in engineering, medicine, and business. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, Karthik pursued his interest in tissue engineering in graduate school. He completed his PhD in bioengineering in 2012 at the University of Kansas and gained valuable business and entrepreneurship experience along the way as an Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation Fellow. Karthik has authored several peer-reviewed publications and patents. He also has received several awards since founding Likarda, including “20 in their Twenties” from Ingram’s Magazine and was named a “Top Young Entrepreneur to Watch” by Under30CEO.

In his free time, Karthik enjoys graphic design, country music and playing Ultimate.

Review Karthik’s recent research and publications.

Donald Muathe, MS
Quality Assurance Supervisor & Senior Analytical Chemist

Donald Muathe is an analytical chemist with more than 15 years of extensive and diversified experience working with various pharmaceutical companies. Donald has knowledge in the areas of analytical method development and validation; stability, isolation, and identification of impurities in drug products; auditing; and quality assurance with compliance requirements in cGMPs, GLPs, ICH, USP, FDA, OSHA, and WHO industry guidelines.

With a master’s degree in chemistry from Pittsburg State University, Donald’s areas of expertise are in HPLC and GC-MS instrumentation, process research and development, drug discovery chemistry, and project management.

In his free time, Donald enjoys playing soccer, watching sports, dining out and going to the movies.

Francis Karanu, PhD
Senior Research Scientist

Francis Karanu began his career as Veterinarian after graduating from the University of Nairobi, Kenya but quickly turned to his passion, Biomedical Research. He completed his graduate training at Washington State University before proceeding to postdoctoral work at Robarts Research Institute / University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario where he worked on isolation and expansion strategies of human hematopoietic stem cells from cord blood and bone marrow. Francis later joined Johnson and Johnson and worked extensively in a stem cell and regenerative medicine venture developing beta-like, insulin producing cells from pluripotent stem cells for the treatment of diabetes in humans, including isolation and characterization procedures. Francis has been author or co-author of many peer reviewed publications and patents.

Francis enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends and supporting charitable efforts in the medical and educational spaces including in his country of origin, Kenya.

Edward J. Robb, DVM, MS, DACVN
Director of Veterinary Clinical Programs

Edward J. Robb is an experienced leader, building successful innovative global teams that have successfully registered new veterinary products with current annual sales >$500M (US). His scientific interests include internal medicine, infectious diseases, endocrinology, and the regulation of veterinary drugs, food safety and clinical trial design / epidemiology. Edward received his B.S. in Animal Science and D.V.M. from Cornell University. He practiced veterinary medicine in northern N.Y. before completing an M.S. in epidemiology and residency in Veterinary Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania and is board certified in veterinary clinical nutrition. Edward held various technical, business, marketing and leadership roles at American Cyanamid Company, The Upjohn Company, Pfizer, Embrex Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., Ceva Animal Health and Parnell Veterinary Pharmaceuticals.

Edward founded BioPharmaPotentials in 2013, specializing in animal health product development and providing both consulting services and execution of regulatory and clinical strategies to assure the full potential of new or current chemical or biologic entities.

Lindsey Ott, PhD
Product Innovation Scientist

Lindsey Ott is a biomedical engineer with a focus in biomaterials and tissue engineering. She received her B.S. in Biological/Agricultural Engineering from Kansas State University in 2008, her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Kansas in 2014, and her post doctorate training at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Lindsey has authored several peer-reviewed papers and patents in the areas of tracheal and vascular tissue engineering. She is excited to be a part of such an innovative team at Likarda where her role is to expand the 3D spheroid technology into other cell types, assays, and products.

In her free time, she likes to run 10Ks and half marathons, golf on the weekends, and bake for friends and family.

Stephen Harrington, PhD
Senior Research Scientist & Manufacturing Supervisor

Stephen wasn’t an analytical laboratory chemist long before his passion for applied research led him to graduate school in bioengineering, where he began researching islet transplantation as a cure for type 1 diabetes. Amid his graduate studies, he became interested in the application of unique biomaterials, called hydrogels, as immunoprotective and cell-supportive structures to improve and prolong islet transplants. This research ultimately led to advancements in islet isolation and cryopreservation techniques, and the development of a novel micro-encapsulation process that was granted a US patent in 2017 in collaboration with Likarda. He holds a degree in chemistry from Emporia State University and earned a doctorate in bioengineering with a focus on biomaterials and tissue engineering from the University of Kansas. As a senior research scientist and manufacturing supervisor for Likarda, Stephen oversees production of Likarda’s cell-microsphere products and leads the development of novel formulations and applications of the patented technology.

Stephen has a knack for ultimate Frisbee, golf, cooking, and roasting and brewing coffee. He enjoys living with three cats and two dogs, and he’s always up for a good road trip, pun or practical joke.