Sponsored Programs Office

Team

Vani Nilakantan

Vani Nilakantan, PhD

Director

Dr. Vani Nilakantan is responsible for setting research priorities in alignment with Aurora’s strategic vision and has oversight of Investigator-Initiated Research and the Sponsored Programs Office at Aurora.

Prior to joining Aurora Health Care, Dr. Nilakantan was an assistant professor of surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), where she led a research program in ischemic acute kidney injury and renal protection in kidney transplantation. Her work has been supported by intramural and extramural funding from American Heart Association and National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her collaborations with other investigators have led to multiple grants, peer-reviewed publications and presentations at national conferences.

Dr. Nilakantan is an ad-hoc reviewer/editorial board member for several journals, and has held leadership roles in local and national committees. This includes the Aurora University of Wisconsin Medical Group Research Committee, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Aurora Conflict of Interest Taskforce, Aurora Cardiovascular Services – Research Committee, Cancer Clinical Leadership – Research Subcommittee, MCW Admissions Committee, MCW Program Committee Women’s Faculty Council Co-Chair, and International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation – Quality of Life Scientific Council. Vani Nilakantan NIH Bio (PDF, 39 KB)

Mary Groce

Mary Groce

Administrative Assistant

Mary is responsible for covering the Aurora Research Institute's main reception desk. Mary also provides administrative support to the Sponsored Programs Office, Investigator-Initiated Research, the Early-Phase Cancer Research Program, and Research Analytics. She has been with Aurora Health Care for seven years, four of which were spent in the Philanthropy/Foundation Department.

Juanita (Terrie) Garcia

Juanita (Terrie) Garcia, MEd, RN

Grant Specialist, Senior – Pre-Award

Terrie has over seven years of experience in grant coordination and development. Prior to joining Aurora, Terrie coordinated federally funded grants and served as grant writer at Marquette University. Terrie is not new to Aurora – for seven years, she was an RN Community Health Educator. Through her experiences, she has gained a deep understanding of the needs and health disparities in the community and has developed strong working relationships with academic institutions and community organizations. Currently, Terrie is pursuing a PhD in Nursing at Marquette University.

Anne Kissack

Anne Kissack, MPH

Grant Specialist, Senior – Pre-Award

Anne received her Bachelor's Degree in Dietetics from Purdue University and her Master's Degree in Public Health from the University of Iowa. She completed both a clinical internship in Dietetics and an interdisciplinary Leadership Education for Neurodevelopmental and related disabilities (LEND) training program. She has 15 years of experience in grant writing and pre-award activities. Anne's work experience has included management, coordination and dissemination of federal, state and privately funded research and programs. She has served as a grant reviewer for the NIH, CDC, and nonprofit foundations and peer reviewer for research manuscripts.

Cassie Martin

Cassie Martin

Grant Specialist – Pre-Award

Cassie joined Aurora Research Institute in November 2015. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in 2011. While there, she served as a research assistant within the Department of Psychology's Memory Research Lab and coordinated studies focused on visual recognition and memory. Her background includes various roles in patient care, most recently as an Account Manager. Cassie has always had a passion for science and research and is excited to join the Aurora Research Institute team.

Mindy Waite, PhD

Mindy Waite, PhD

Grant Specialist, Senior – Pre-Award

Mindy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Genetics from UW-Madison and her PhD in Molecular Biology, with a focus on Neuroscience, from the University of Michigan. In addition to her strong research background, Mindy has several years of grant development and writing experience. From her passion for science, communications, and grant development, Mindy has unique perspectives and communication tools to assist investigators in their pursuit of funding.

Tobias (Toby) Wolf

Tobias (Toby) Wolf

Grant Specialist, Senior – Post-Award

Toby has 10 years of experience in grant development and management. He specializes in large infrastructure and program grants. He also supports the Aurora Research Institute contract group with new award setup.