2015 Early career award: Gregory Piefer

// Electrical & Computer Engineering

Tags: alumni, ECE E-Day, Engineers' Day, Gregory Piefer

Gregory Piefer5972-greg-piefer
CEO and founder
SHINE Medical Technologies, Inc.
BSEE ’99, MSNEEP ’04,
PhDNEEP/MedPhys ’06
Middleton, Wisconsin

While pursuing his PhD at UW-Madison, Greg Piefer set his sights on commercializing his fusion research to address a major healthcare challenge—the dwindling global supply of medical isotopes used to treat and diagnose millions of patients.

Piefer founded SHINE Medical Technologies Inc. in 2010 and currently serves as the CEO of the company, which seeks to become the world leader in producing medical isotopes for diagnostic imaging of various conditions, including heart disease and cancer. SHINE’s revolutionary accelerator-based process allows for low-cost, environmentally friendly production of medical isotopes without a nuclear reactor.

With 30 employees in its Monona, Wisconsin, office, SHINE received financial support from angel and venture investors, the Morgridge Institute for Research and U.S. Department of Energy. In 2014 alone, SHINE has executed a term sheet for $125 million in debt and equity financing in order to begin construction of a production facility in Janesville, Wisconsin (with a goal to be operational in 2018), obtained more than $2.4 million for operating costs, and signed long-term agreements to supply its product to GE Healthcare and Lantheus Medical Imaging, two of the three medical isotope distributors in the United States. To date, SHINE has spent approximately $40 million designing the production facility and expected revenues are approximately $200 million per year once the facility begins operation. SHINE’s target medical isotope market is approximately $1 billion worldwide, serving more than 55,000 patients per day in the U.S.

After earning bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and physics from UW-Madison in 1999, Piefer went on to earn master’s and PhD degrees in nuclear engineering and engineering physics in 2004 and 2006. As a graduate student, Piefer was the chief technical officer of Gillware Inc., a leading data recovery and backup company. While pursuing his PhD, he founded Phoenix Nuclear Labs (PNL), an early-stage company that has developed a new generation of high-yield neutron generators for defense and medical applications. PNL has 35 employees and has brought in significant revenue and equity financing since its inception. Piefer served as PNL’s president until 2010, and he has remained on the company’s board of directors since stepping down as president to found SHINE.

Piefer lives in Middleton, Wisconsin. Outside of work, he enjoys CrossFit and running as well as dabbling in computers and other electronics.