Dr. Mark Holterman – CEO of Mariam Global Health

Refine your ideas with your trusted team.

Dr. Mark Holterman is the creative inventive out-of-the-box “what if?” Light bulb popping cruise director/opportunist behind Mariam Global Health. Raised on a Wisconsin farm, he was exposed to the challenges and rewards of a small business helping with his father’s construction business. Perhaps this decidedly blue-collar upbringing fulfilled some affirmative action “farm boy/cheesehead” quota for the Yale admission committee but surprisingly he was chosen and matriculated in 1976. Graduating with honors in 1980 he accepted an NIH scholarship in the Medical Scientist Training program and moved to UVA for the combined MD and Ph.D. program. Charlottesville was very, very good to Dr. Holterman and when he left 13 years later, he had completed his degrees, his general surgery residency, married his surgeon- scientist wife, Aixuan, and welcomed two sons into the world. The training continued and in 1993 he moved his family to the Pacific Northwest for fellowship training in Pediatric Surgery at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Mrs. Dr. Holterman decided to drink the Pediatric Surgery Kool-Aid prompting a move to Montreal in 1995 (with a newly minted third son) for her training. Dr. Holterman kept the home fires burning raising three sons as Mr. Mom. After training was completed, the husband and wife team joined the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1997. 20 years later the kids have grown and the tenured full professors are retiring from the University to pursue biotechnology developments and advance medical education outside of the US.

Dr. Mark Holterman has a wide range of life experiences and resides comfortably in the two disciplines of clinical medicine and scientific research. An unabashed opportunist he started the Mariam Global Health Fund to develop the transformative and disruptive ideas of his innovative friends into unique healthcare advancements. He has supported and founded companies in oncology, regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy and medical devices. His research and personal interests are strong in autoimmunity, obesity and stem cell medicine. Serving as a consultant for venture capital companies, Dr. Holterman finds that his background lends itself well to identifying advancements in biotechnology that will greatly impact global health.

Borrowing a concept from biochemistry, a friend describes Dr. Holterman as the carbon molecule that links scientific ideas to medical applications and gives them life.

Where did the idea for Mariam Global Health come from?

I have spent 40 years eating, drinking, sweating and not sleeping while witnessing scientific discovery and immersed in clinical medicine. Now that I am older, wiser and exhausted, I am trying to make a difference with my life’s experiences. I have become an unabashed opportunist as evidenced by the following.

I am blessed to know a handful of naturally gifted innovative scientists and physicians that have created transformative technology that could radically improve healthcare. We call them IMPACT INNOVATORS. They invariably lack the business acumen and/or financial resources to advance their ideas to the healthcare marketplace. They and their dreams are dying on the vine.

On the other hand, there exists a pool of social investors interested in doing well while doing good things with their money including advancing global healthcare. We call them IMPACT INVESTORS.

In many ways, Mariam Global Health serves to “handicap” the field in emerging biotechnology. Our modus operandi is best explained with a baseball analogy. MGH serves as :

1) a talent scout searching for the player with natural talent (Impact Innovators with new high impact technology)

2) the minor league coach who teaches the necessary skills to advance to the Big Leagues (building a business, securing the IP and early financing, etc.)

3) the professional athlete’s business agent (ensuring the greatest financial return for the technology)

4) our global connections allow us to

a) recruit proven talent from abroad (think Ichiro Suzuki) (foreign-born impact innovators need access to developmental help)

b) develop talent in the foreign minor leagues (recruit global collaborators for clinical trials, technology deployment, and product distribution)

Biotechnology has tremendous potential for global impact (both social and financial), but historically has been viewed as a high-risk strategy. Mariam Global Health mitigates this risk through the usual due diligence but also betting on technology that can treat the greatest number of people and/or is closest to return on investment. The Mariam Global Health Fund plays “small ball” with late-stage assets and carefully chooses and nurtures early stage assets that can “go yard” in the ninth inning.

Mariam Global Health emboldens the Partnership of Science and Business.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Start and end with prayer.

Be flexible with the schedule – squeaky wheels need some attention or the business runs in circles

Delegate as much detail work as possible.

Research trends outside of your area of specialty

How do you bring ideas to life?

An encounter with a new tool (technology) is followed by the question of, “I wonder if this would help with Disease XYZ”. Speak with my business team for a reality check.

Possible Reality Check Results:

1) It was a good idea 30 years ago

2) 30 companies are working on the idea currently

3) 30 people in the world suffer from Disease XYZ

4) It would take 30 years to develop

5) 30 Million people could benefit from a better treatment for Disease XYZ !!

Find the experts, discuss their needs, develop collaborations, don’t get greedy.

Sleep, Shower, repeat.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Regenerative Medicine and Medical Photonics

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Swallow my pride and ask for advice – “most physicians are lousy business people.”

What advice would you give your younger self?

Treat your ideas as friends and not as children. It is easier to say goodbye to a friend. Your children may never move out of the attic bedroom consuming time and resources. A valued friend will be welcomed back and bear great fruit or at least bring a good bottle of Shiraz or a six-pack of “Spotted Cow”.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

The distilled wisdom of Country Music is good for the soul.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?


Refine your ideas with your trusted team. Then run it past outside experienced business people that do not have a mouse in the maze and ask them to find the holes in your cheese.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Control your burn rate like Scrooge did the coal for Bob Cratchit’s furnace. Run extremely lean and hungry and efficiently. Luckily we did not get promised investment money on several occasions despite our “well prepared” business plan. We were forced to refine the concept with outside business examples. We reworked the business plan, pitched the idea and we were rejected repeatedly. We kept refining the plan with outside help, new technology, and continued networking like crazy. Our eleventh hour, heart-breaking investor rejections were a blessing in disguise. We would have wasted a lot of money on half-baked ideas.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Failing to appreciate the far-reaching negative impact that the Internet can have on good people and their reputation.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

1) Selling moderately priced busts of grandchildren created by 3-D printing based on 3-D ultrasound or MRI as a Christmas gift for grandparents.

2) In utero 4-D videography of a developing child for pregnant couples and grandparents.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I received a $150 honorarium for a lecture in China. I put the Yuan in the second collection basket at Mass to help with the Catholic Relief efforts in Venezuela. Hopefully, the Father gets a good exchange rate at the bank.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Box, Slack, Trello, Office at Hand and WhatsApp

Helps my team communicate across the globe and helps me manage my time.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need, by Meg Meeker, M.D. Not a business book but good for our society and with applicable lessons for the management of your Human Resource issues.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Peter Thiel —”From Zero to One”, – Sage business advice from “one who can walk the walk”

Steve Jobs and Elon Musk- So radically “out of the box thinkers” that one considers the diagnosis of a cardboard allergy

G.K Chesterton – “The Apostle of Common Sense”

““It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.”

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

Bishop Robert Baron, Word on Fire Ministry –

God exists and gives sense to the madness of the world

Father Robert Spitzer, Philosopher turned Roman Catholic Priest Father Spitzer’s Universe


Proofs for the Existence of God Part I: A Metaphysical Argument (International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 41:2, June 2001) pp 162–186.

Proofs for the Existence of God Part II: A Cosmological Argument and a Lonerganian Argument (International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 41:3, Sept 2001) pp 305–331.

Indications of Creation in Contemporary Astrophysics (Journal of Ultimate Reality and Meaning, Vol 24:3, Sept 2001) pp. 1–50.

Indications of Creation in Contemporary Big Bang Cosmology. (Philosophy in Science, Vol 10, 2003, pp 35–106.)

Indications of Supernatural Design in Big Bang Cosmology (Journal of Ultimate Reality and Meaning, Vol 27:4, December 2004) pp 265–287

Mike Adams, Sociology and Criminology Professor

The oppressive chains of political correctness.


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