Board of Directors

Mr. James B. Burgum, Chairman

James Burgum

Mr. Burgum is the co-founder and Managing Director of Arthur Ventures LLC, a venture capital firm launched in Fargo, ND in 2008. Arthur Ventures is a mission-driven fund that seeks to seed and facilitate growth in its partner companies and its investors’ returns. As Managing Director, Mr. Burgum serves on the board of Intelligent InSites Inc., Loyalty Builders Inc., and Workface Inc. He also serves on the board of Arthur Companies Inc., a diversified agri-business.

Mr. Burgum has nearly a decade of experience in angel investing, venture capital, government policy, international trade, agribusiness and entrepreneurship. He continues to be active in driving economic growth in his home state of North Dakota and the surrounding region. He has held business development positions at Great Plains Software, Microsoft, the Office of the Governor of North Dakota, the North Dakota Trade Office and Advenio Partners, a consulting firm that participated in angel investments and turn-around projects. While working for the state of North Dakota, he was instrumental in launching key initiatives such as Operation: Intern, the North Dakota Trade Office, and Young Professional Networks, all of which remain crucial programs in the state’s efforts to grow and diversify the economy.

Mr. Ron Bergan, Director

Ron Bergan is the CEO of Fargo Assembly Company (FAC) and Fargo Assembly of Pennsylvania (FAP), manufacturers of electrical wire harnesses primarily for the agriculture, construction, and recreation sectors. FAC was founded in 1975 by Ron and two partners; in 1985, Ron took sole ownership. The company has grown through natural expansion and acquisition to include seven plants in North  Dakota, eight plants in five other states, and two companies outside of North America. FAP, which was purchased in 1992, brought five of the eight plants into the fold. Ron was inducted into the North Dakota Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the North Dakota State University Alumni Achievement Award in 2006.

Mr. Michael Chambers, Director

Michael Chambers

Michael Chambers has a proven track record of building and managing successful life-science companies. In 1997, he co-founded Aldevron, a company that has become a leading provider of bio-manufacturing services, and  is well recognized in the vaccine arena. In 2003, Aldevron manufactured the world’s first DNA-based West Nile Virus vaccine to be used in endangered species. Mr. Chambers led Aldevron’s efforts to acquire Genovac (Freiburg, Germany) and to establish Aldevron Madison (Madison, WI), a new company focused on protein manufacturing.  In 2009 he joined with Dr. Whalen to co-found Altravax. Mr. Chambers has been recognized with numerous awards including the Region VII SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.He currently serves on the Boards of North Dakota State University (NDSU) Research Park and the NDSU Research Foundation.

Mr. Len Ruiz, Director

Leonard Ruiz

Leonard P. Ruiz Jr.

Dr. Ruiz has more than 30 years of domestic and international experience and accomplishments in business development, technology transfer, strategic partnering and managing non-profit organizations in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, and food industries. While the CEO of BIOVIRx, Inc., he successfully licensed the pediatric oral rotavirus vaccine, RotaShield®, which is now in development by the non-profit International Medica Foundation, which he helped found. Previously, Dr. Ruiz served as President of Global Genomics Capital, Inc., a business development fund in Los Angeles; CEO of The SOTA TEC Fund, a 501(c)(3) business development fund; CEO of several biotechnology companies; V.P. of PROCOR Technologies, Inc., where he spearheaded the development of a successful animal biologics  business; and Director of Corporate R&D for Land O’ Lakes Inc. Dr. Ruiz was also a founder, Senior V. P. and CSO of GalaGen, Inc., a biotech spinout of Land O’ Lakes which had a successful initial public offering. He holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Louisiana State University.

Mr. Robert Whalen, Director

Robert Whalen

Dr. Whalen has been a scientist for over 35 years and has nearly 15 years experience in the biotech industry as a consultant and senior manager. Before co-founding Altravax in 2009, he was Director, Infectious Diseases at Maxygen, Inc. where he oversaw numerous vaccine projects dealing with vaccines to hepatitis A and B, HIV-1, influenza, malaria, encephalitic alphaviruses, flaviviruses, and various biodefense targets. He is an expert in the application of directed molecular evolution to the discovery and optimization of vaccines, and has broad experience in molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, physiology, immunology, and vaccinology.

While a research scientist and group leader at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France (1972-1995), he was well known for his contributions to the field of the developmental biology of muscle, and from 1993 he made pioneering contributions to the emerging field of DNA vaccines. In 1991, he was promoted to Director of Research (equivalent to the D.Sc. degree) in the French National Center for Scientific Research. He is the author of over 120 scientific papers, reviews and book chapters. He holds degrees in chemistry from Harvard University (M.A., 1974) and The Pennsylvania State University (B.S., 1970).