Illinois Tech Names Maryam Saleh as New Executive Director of Kaplan Institute

Computational Neuroscientist and Startup Executive to Take the Helm at the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence



By Howard J. Lee

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Maryam Saleh

Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) today announced that Chicago-based computational neuroscientist and startup veteran Maryam Saleh will join the university as the new executive director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. 

The Kaplan Institute is a next-generation innovation hub designed to help fuel Chicago’s continued tech rise by nurturing the advancement of critical and creative ideas, fostering interdisciplinary and external collaboration, and creating a culture that enables innovation and tech entrepreneurship to flourish.

Saleh comes to Illinois Tech from Machinify—a venture-backed startup that applies artificial intelligence technology to re-tool health care payer operations. She was also a founding member of Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, a startup that commercialized a brain implant technology that aimed to restore movement in quadriplegic individuals. Saleh also founded the Center for Device Development, which housed a medical device innovation fellowship at Northwestern University and a seed fund to support the development of the faculty’s medical device inventions. 

Saleh is a key player in the Chicago entrepreneurial ecosystem, serving first as a vice president and now as an advisor at MATTERa business development hub for over 200 cutting-edge startups worldwide that work with hospitals and health systems, universities, and industry-leading companies to build innovative health care solutions. Most recently, she co-founded the Chicago Women in Bio 3.8 Initiative, an effort aimed at placing influential female executives on boards of Chicago-area life sciences startups. 

“Maryam’s demonstrated success in designing and implementing cross-disciplinary programs to engage entrepreneurial, academic, and corporate communities will support the Kaplan Institute as a key driver to the success of Chicago’s tech ecosystem,” says Peter Kilpatrick, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Illinois Tech. “We look forward to her vision and leadership in helping Illinois Tech continue to be a top engine of talent and opportunity in Chicago and around the world.”

Saleh was featured in Crain’s Chicago Business’ Tech 50 and recognized as a Crain’s 40 Under 40 in 2016. Born in London and raised in Canada, Saleh holds a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from the University of Chicago and B.Sc. in computer engineering from Brown University. She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and currently lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood with her husband, Jason MacLean, and two children, Rhys and Tiah.

“Illinois Tech, as the only tech-focused institution in Chicago and the home of the Institute of Design, Armour College of Engineering, College of Computing, and Chicago-Kent College of Law, is ideally positioned to house an interdisciplinary program that explores all facets of entrepreneurship from identifying unmet needs, to building a product, to standing up a business and launching a product in the market,” Saleh says. “I am thrilled to lead Illinois Tech’s flagship institute—the Kaplan Institute—where I’ll have the opportunity to leverage the diversity of Illinois Tech's student and faculty body and connect them to the entrepreneurial and corporate innovation ecosystem in and outside of Chicago.” 

Saleh will join Kaplan Institute beginning on Monday, September 14, 2020. Opened in October 2018, the two-story, 70,000-square-foot Kaplan Institute is a hub for discovery, innovation, and business creation that is designed to give Illinois Tech students the skills and experience needed to make their innovations viable for the market.

“Maryam’s entrepreneurial spirit and her passionate curiosity in innovation is exactly what we are looking for to lead the Kaplan Institute into the next phase of its growth,” says Illinois Tech Trustee Ed Kaplan (M.E. '65). “Under Maryam’s leadership, the Kaplan Institute will inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to develop breakthroughs that will go on to change lives.”

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