Q&A With Dr. Mark Holterman, Pediatric Surgeon, CEO, and Professor


Dr. Mark Holterman, a world-renowned physician, and venture capitalist began his journey on a humble Wisconsin farm where he learned skills of perseverance by helping his father with the family construction business. Raised on a Wisconsin farm, he was exposed to the In 1976, then Mark, matriculated in 1976. He studied biology, and in 1980 graduated cum laude. After graduation, he accepted an NIH scholarship in the Medical Scientist Training program and moved to the University of Virginia for the combined MD and Ph.D. program. Thirteen years later, Dr. Mark Holterman had graduated with his MD and Ph.D., finished his general surgery residency, gotten married, and became a father to two sons.

In 1993, Dr. Mark Holterman moved his family to Washington state where he finished his fellowship training in Pediatric Surgery at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. For two years, the Holterman moved to Montreal so Dr. Aixuan Holterman, the other doctor in the Holterman duo could complete her Pediatric Surgery training. The Holtermans later moved to Chicago Illinois. Dr. Mark Holterman worked as a professor and physician of Pediatric surgery all across the state of Illinois for over twenty years.

Now, after forty years in medicine, Dr. Mark Holterman had brought a wide range of life and medical experiences to the field of scientific research. With a pension for opportunity, Dr. Mark Holterman helped found the Mariam Global Health Fund, a corporation that works to develop transformative ideas to progress advancements in healthcare (https://ideamensch.com/mark-holterman/). Dr. Mark Holterman has helped found companies through Mariam Global Health that specialize in oncology, regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy and medical devices. His education background and work history led him to develop strong interests in autoimmunity, obesity and stem cell medicine. As a venture capitalist, Dr. Holterman uses his background to identify advancements in biotechnology that will greatly impact global health.

How did Mariam Global Health come to be?

After forty years in the medical field, watching science discover more and more advances in biotechnology, I decided to put my experiences to use toward helping global medicine. I find myself lucky because I know lots of gifted doctors and scientists that have helped create the transformative technology Mariam Global Health invests in. These people are called impact innovators, or people who lack business sense or finances to advance their ideas, so their dreams end up failing. On the other hand, there are also impact investors or social investors who desire to do good with their money so they invest in technology that advances global healthcare. MariamGlobal Health helps both sides of the spectrum in the field of emerging biotechnology.

 Describe a Typical Day in the life of Dr. Mark Holterman for us.

 I pray every morning when I wake up and every night before my head hits the pillow.  I am flexible with my schedule, and I try to pay attention to the parts of my business that seem like they need it the most first. I try to delegate as much work to my employees as possible. It’s important not to get overwhelmed.  Every day, I try to go outside the box of my specialty and research current medical trends.

How do you make your ideas happen?

Whenever I get a new idea about a technology, I try to talk to my business team and get a reality check.
Possible Reality Check Results:

1) It would’ve been a good idea a long time ago2) Other companies are already working on the idea
3) The technology is not relevant
4) It would take too long to develop the technology
5) It is a great idea!

Always always always look to the experts for their advice and do not get greedy.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell a young Dr. Mark Holterman?

 Treat your ideas as friends. They aren’t completely indispensable, but if you treat them well and they are a good friend, they will come back to you and it will end up as a beautiful friendship.

Do you have any recommendations for other entrepreneurs?

Do not be afraid to have individual ideas. Avoid bandwagons. Have a trusted business team, and always run your ideas past them. Have them look for the flaws in your plans.

Please explain your go-to strategy for helping grow your business. What do you do over and over again?

Control your expenditure as much as possible. It is important to be lean and hungry in order to be efficient. There were several times where Mariam Global Health did not get money that had been promised to us by an investor. We were well prepared in our business plan but ultimately had to refine our concept by running the idea past people outside our circle. After reworking the business plan over and over, we would pitch it, but still get rejected repeatedly. Outside help, new technology, and networking could not save us, but eventually, we realized at the end of the day, that our rejections from investors were actually a blessing disguise. We would have ended up wasting a lot of money on ideas that ultimately would have failed.

Have you ever experienced failure in any way? How did you handle it?

I should have recognized the potential negative influences of the Internet on businesses, but I handled it by investing everything I have into my business.

Is there a trend in biotechnology that you find particularly exciting?

Regenerative Medicine and Medical Photonics.

Do you have one habit that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur? If so, what is it?

I think it is important to swallow your pride and ask for advice.


More about Dr. Mark Holterman on Twitter and LinkedIn

2 thoughts on “Q&A With Dr. Mark Holterman, Pediatric Surgeon, CEO, and Professor

  1. Even if Dr. Holterman has all the expertise and skills under his belt, he isn’t afraid to ask for help to grow his business. I appreciate how he showed us how reaching out and acknowledging that you can’t do all things by yourself could go a long way. If you can’t handle it, ask for help. Seriously, it doesn’t hurt and it won’t make you any less of a human. Kudos to this man!

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