Key Personnel

Robert J. Drape, MBA

Robert Drape serves as WiCell’s Executive Director and has held this position since June 2013. His vision is to strengthen WiCell’s support of developing stem cell technologies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the global stem cell research community to enhance basic research, improve diagnostics, and promote the translation of stem cell technology to address unmet clinical needs.  Robert previously served as WiCell’s Director of Operations and Project Management Director, joining the organization in 2007.  His prior experience includes roles in senior management and project management in organizations concentrating on vaccine development, clinical research and mammalian cell line production.  Robert earned an Executive MBA from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013 and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Augustana College (IL).


Tenneille E. Ludwig, Ph.D.

Tenneille Ludwig currently serves as the Director of the WiCell Stem Cell Bank overseeing the banking, distribution, and core services operations at WiCell. Dr. Ludwig obtained her Bachelor's and Master’s degrees from Washington State University prior to completing a Ph.D. in embryology and developmental biology with a minor in bioethics from UW–Madison in 2001. Her subsequent work in the laboratory of Dr. James Thomson (2001-2007) focused primarily on the optimization of cell culture conditions, and resulted in the development of the first defined, feeder-independent culture system for human embryonic stem cells (TeSR/mTeSR). From 2005 to 2010 Dr. Ludwig served as the director of distribution for the U.S. National Stem Cell Bank operated at WiCell. Dr. Ludwig is a member of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center at the University of Wisconsin, serves on the steering committee for the International Stem Cell Banking Forum (ISCBF), and operates one of the Core Laboratories for the International Stem Cell Initiative (ISCI). Additionally, she has served as a Scientific Advisor to multiple boards, including the International Stem Cell Forum Ethics Working Party,
collegiate training programs, and national and international registries.

Jessica Martin-Eckerly, MBA, M.S.

Jessica Martin-Eckerly is Director of Business Operations and Marketing for WiCell.  Jessica works with senior management to provide strategic direction for WiCell, with a focus on growth and identification of new opportunities.  In addition, she develops and leads strategy for WiCell’s marketing efforts, such as website development, branding, media relations, and sponsorships.  Passionate about mentoring students and driving new technologies toward commercialization, she serves as a Faculty Assistant for the Master of Science in Biotechnology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Prior to joining WiCell in 2008 she had roles in market research, QA, QC, and manufacturing for an international pharmaceutical development company and for a startup company developing therapeutic tissue products. Jessica obtained her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and holds an Executive MBA and a master's degree in biotechnology, both from University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Karen Dyer Montgomery, Ph.D.

Karen Montgomery is the director of the cytogenetics  laboratory at WiCell and a faculty member of the University of Wisconsin Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center. Prior to joining WiCell, she co-directed the UW Cytogenetic Services at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene. She came to Madison in 2005 as an associate professor in the department of pathology at UW–Madison. Montgomery moved to Wisconsin from Santa Fe, N.M., where she was a laboratory director at Genzyme Genetics. Prior to that she was an associate professor and directed the clinical cytogenetics service at the University of New Mexico. She is a graduate of Kent State University, trained in human genetics at the University of Washington, is certified in clinical cytogenetics by the American Board of Medical Genetics and is a founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics. Montgomery’s research interests are in the role of cytogenetic abnormalities in human embryonic stem cells and in the interaction of genetics and environmental contaminants in pediatric leukemia.