About Etaluma

The Etaluma team

Etaluma Inc. is a privately held Life Sciences company focused on bringing analytical and diagnostic instrumentation to a greater spectrum of users by decreasing the cost and complexity of these devices and encouraging the open-source development of applications for their use.

The primary goal and challenge for Etaluma's diverse team of scientists and engineers is to implement these powerful core technologies in cost-effective formats, thereby extending their availability beyond well-funded laboratories. Moreover, Etaluma is actively looking to provide hardware to reagent and kit manufacturers who want to expand their market into the economics of smaller labs, individual researchers, and third-world settings.

By leveraging Etaluma's in-house optical and software development expertise, a series of calibration and validation tools will be introduced to assist the user in critically evaluating the merit and performance of both Etaluma devices and more conventional instrumentation.

Management Team

Chris Shumate, Ph.D.

Co-Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Chris Shumate Chris has spent over 30 years in the development, application, and marketing of analytical equipment with the majority of that time concentrated in biotechnology applications. He has held key technology and management positions at several start-up and more established companies such as Hamilton, Sagian, Aurora Biosciences, and Cytokinetics. Prior to co-founding Etaluma, he co-founded Blueshift Biotechnologies, which was acquired by MDS Analytical Technologies in 2008. He also co-founded CytoPrint, which was acquired by Atto Biosciences, now part of BD Biosciences. He has a large breadth of knowledge of the industry and the requirements of successful instrumentation. He has over 40 publications and presentations and holds 14 patents. Education: B.A. Chemistry, 1984, Washington University; Ph.D. Analytical Chemistry, 1989, Washington State University.

Robert (Kenji) Levin

Vice President of Engineering

Robert (Kenji) Levin Robert has over 30 years of engineering experience with industrial and scientific instruments. He has contributed to and directed a wide variety of projects including automated cooking equipment, printer controls, combinatorial chemistry sorting systems, slurry dispensing machines, automated microscopes, and gas chromatographs. In the 1990s Robert worked in Japan for five years in the hard disk manufacturing industry and became fluent in Japanese. He holds a patent for a parallel liquid dispensing system and has a patent pending for a tire changing machine. Education: B.S. Physics, 1991 San Diego State University.

Frank Ryan

Chief Financial Officer

Frank Ryan Frank handles all aspects of corporate risk management and finance. He is also a visiting professor of finance at SDSU and teaches The Global Financial Environment course in the MBA for Executives program. After obtaining a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, Frank gained the bulk of his applied financial experience from Eastman Kodak as a financial planner. At Kodak, he analyzed dividend policy and quarterly performance for its Asian, African, and Australian regions, and developed annual financial goals for these divisions. He worked on an award-winning inventory reduction team, international transfer price changes, and implementing performance plans for international managers. Following his time at Kodak, he marketed financial systems and software services for businesses in the Seattle area. Frank then returned to academia to obtain his Masters in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Eric Weiner

Director of Manufacturing

Eric Weiner Eric has over 17 years of experience in instrumentation for scientific and industrial products, spanning the bridge between science and engineering. He has worked in the disciplines of microscopy, optics, capacitive and temperature sensor design and construction, image acquisition/analysis, electronics, TGA/TMA, IT management, and others. As the product manager for the Nexus Biosystems Crystal Farm (an automated incubator/imager for protein crystallization), he was involved in design, manufacture, QC, support, and service. His education includes a BA in Environmental Chemistry and a MS in Chemistry, both from UC San Diego.

Jonathan Spurgin

Director of Software Development

Jonathan Spurgin Jonathan Spurgin has over 25 years of experience in software development in various industries, including several start-ups; two of them in the medical device realm (CardioNet and Medipacs). Jonathan was a key member of the founding team of CardioNet, helping to secure venture capital funding and a successful IPO. He earned his BSEE from San Diego State University.

Ausra Vabaliene


Ausra Vabaliene Ausra joined Etaluma Inc. team in 2011. She is an industrial engineer turned accountant. She handles accounting, shipping, purchasing, and part of customer service. Ausra has worked as an R&D manager for an apparel manufacturer and serves as a treasurer for several non-profits. She holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania and an Accounting Certificate.

Brian Rasnow, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist and Co-Founder

Brian Rasnow Dr. Brian Rasnow is a lecturer in physics at California State University Channel Islands and a mentor, inventor, and consultant. For 10 years he was a Principal Scientist in Research & Automation Technologies at Amgen Inc., where his group automated drug discovery, pioneered new technologies, and developed novel biodetection platforms. His systems tested tens of millions of pharmaceutical candidates and significantly contributed to several clinical trials, earning him Amgen's "Excellence in Science and Engineering" award in 2007. Dr. Rasnow studied neuroethology and physics at Caltech, where he received a Ph.D. in physics in 1994. There he established a successful research program on weakly electric fish and proposed the first plausible model of how these animals might perceive objects with their electric sense. Dr. Rasnow's diversity is perhaps his strongest asset. He is an amateur astronomer and photographer, competent in electronics and programming, an organic farmer growing ~100 varieties of fruit trees, and he mentors students from Caltech and other universities on numerous international development projects for the poor in Central America. His inventions range from a novel method for threshing pearl millet (being developed in Africa) to biochemistry assays and electro-optical detectors.

Walter (Lane) Niles, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder

Walter (Lane) Niles Dr. Niles has over 30 years experience in basic scientific research and in the development of biomedical technologies. His inventions include computer-based real time localization of single presynaptic transmitter release sites for positioning focal extracellular recording electrodes, a quantitative FRET microscope for measuring nanometer-scale distances between membranes, a piezoelectric subnanoliter liquid dispenser optimized for volume and drop trajectory control, an automated laboratory for production and screening of target biosensor cell lines, and a microfluidic clinical immunodiagnostic platform with a time to result of under 5 minutes. He has held positions leading research and research and development teams at Rush University Medical Center, the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Aurora Biosciences, Genoptix, Biosite Diagnostics, and Aurora Discovery, and been a consultant for Abbott Laboratories, BD Biosciences, Eli Lilly and Co., and several engineering companies seeking entry to the life sciences. Education: B.S., California Institute of Technology; Ph. D., University of Wisconsin -- Madison; Postdoctoral, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Mel Schehlein

Emeritus Director of Software Development

Mel Schehlein Mel was a member of the founding Etaluma team and was responsible for the initial of LumaView software products. He has over 29 years experience managing software design and development at companies including: Computer Products, Barco Chromatics, Aurora Biosciences, Acres Gaming, and International Game Technology. He has overseen many projects involving a wide range of programming languages, including: MS Visual Studio V6 - 2010, VB.Net, C#, C++, ASP.Net, XML/XSL, Visual Studio build environments; MS Office Suite, SQL2005, SPs, DTS; Active Server Pages, - IIS, VB Script, Java Script, HTML, and DHTML. Mel has also taught Computer Science and Mathematics at the University level, including at Johns Hopkins University.

Eddie Wang Rodriguez

Corporate Counsel

Eddie Wang Rodriguez Eddie handles all legal matters for Etaluma. He is the Managing Member of Mintz Levin's San Diego office. His is focused on a full range of corporate and securities matters, including corporate formation, mergers and acquisitions, venture financing, technology licensing, and general business counseling for both public and private companies. He has extensive experience with counseling public and private companies in the life sciences, software, hardware, e-commerce, and information technology industries in a broad range of transactional matters. Eddie has represented clients in over 200 mergers and acquisition transactions and has represented investors and private companies in numerous private equity financings valued in excess of $200 million. He received his B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles (1991) and his J.D. from Stanford Law School (1994).

Scientific Advisory Board

John Osth

Senior Adviser

John Osth Previously CEO of Celula, Inc., a venture backed company pursuing non-invasive prenatal diagnostics, John has held senior level positions at Baxter Healthcare including President of the Immunotherapy Division and head of European R&D. In addition, he has held senior management positions with Abbott Diagnostics and HematoLogics. His various management positions include: CEO, COO, Head of Manufacturing, Head of R&D, CFO and Head of Marketing. He is currently the CEO and a founder of QuantumCor, Inc. John received a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy gaining a commission in the Navy. He also received a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Alex Zambon, Ph.D.

Scientific Advisory Board Member

Eddie Wang Rodriguez Alex Zambon, PhD. Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California San Diego has been developing both bioinformatics and molecular based live-cell approaches to elucidate and quantify complex biological processes. In particular his laboratory is researching how cells execute cell fate decisions (e.g. proliferation, programmed cell death and differentiation) using and integration of systems biology, molecular biology, bioinformatics and image informatics.

Randy Engler

Scientific Advisory Board Member

Eddie Wang Rodriguez Randy Engler is Director of Sales, Novozymes Biopharma and has 30 years experience in the development and commercialization of products into the biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries. Business development, sales and marketing experience includes positions at Baxter, Thermo Fisher, Genzyme and a number of start-up companies involved in biological research tools, unique drug delivery and biologic manufacturing technologies.