The ViaGen Team

Animal Cloning Pros and Cons

Blake Russell, Clone Animals

Blake Russell – President

Blake is responsible for ViaGen’s efforts to profitably deliver genomics and cloning services to the livestock, pet and equine sector worldwide. Blake also operates an equine breeding program of his own built around his cloned stallion Pure Tailor Fit – Tailor Fit was a 2-time AQHA Racing World Champion.

Blake joined ViaGen, Inc. in January of 2006. Prior to joining ViaGen, Blake served on the management team of PIC, the world’s largest suppliers of genetics to the swine industry, for more than 15 years. Blake’s 20 year career in the swine genetics business included responsibilities in sales, business development, marketing, operations, and general management. Blake has worked in more than 15 countries and carried P&L responsibilities for  businesses throughout the America’s and Asia. Blake received his B.S. in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University and his MBA from Emory University.


Shawn Walker, Pros Of Animal Cloning

Shawn Walker, PhD – VP of Science and Technology

Shawn has been with ViaGen for over 13 years and during this time has overseen the successful cloning of 7 different species, including equine, porcine, bovine, cervine, ovine, caprine and feline. In particular, he has over eight years of experience in horse cloning production and his lab has produced over 250 healthy cloned foals.

Dr. Walker earned his Ph.D. in Genetics from Texas A&M University and his M.S. degree in Veterinary Medicine from Virginia Tech University.

With more than 16 years of experience in nuclear transfer, Shawn’s research has centered on improvements in the efficiency of nuclear transfer in various species. As a Phd student at Texas A&M, Shawn developed the most efficient method  for cloning pigs–which is still used today. Shawn began his career in industry at PPL Therapeutics, Inc., where his primary focus was developing protocols for the production of cloned pigs and cows from somatic cells and also establishing protocols for gene targeting in somatic cells.

Diane Broek, Animal Cloning Statistics

Diane Broek – Cloning Sales and Marketing Manager

Diane is responsible for ViaGen sales, marketing and production practices to the livestock sector which primarily includes cattle, pigs, sheep and goats as well as transgenic projects.

Diane has been with the Trans Ova Genetics organization since 1980. She served in various roles for the company including Embryologist, Lab Manager, and Area Sales Manager prior to taking the role of Bovance General Manager in 2007. Bovance was the initial joint venture between ViaGen and Trans Ova Genetics for bovine cloning in North America. Following the acquisition of ViaGen by Trans Ova Genetics in late 2012, she serves as the Cloning Sales and Marketing Manager for ViaGen. In addition to degrees in Biology and Chemistry, Diane also has an extensive background in cattle reproductive technology and cattle management. Diane is responsible for ViaGen sales, marketing and production practices to the livestock sector, which includes cattle, pigs, sheep and goats.

Melain Rodriguez, Gene Cloning

Melain Rodriguez – Client Service Manager

Melain is responsible for ensuring ViaGen delivers world-class care to every client.

Melain joined ViaGen in 2008 as a Cell Culture Associate and has been the Customer Accounts Manager since 2009. She began her career in science more than 15 years ago as a Research Assistant in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Melain then moved on to a position as a Research Associate in the Cellular and Molecular Medicine Department at the University of California in San Diego, where she gained extensive knowledge in animal breeding and molecular biology.

Prior to joining ViaGen, Melain was a Veterinary Technician in the Austin, Texas area. She received a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Arkansas. Melain adores animals of any kind and is currently a devoted pet parent to two Miniature Pinschers, Zeus and Zoey.

Lauren Aston, Animal Clones

Lauren Aston (with Coco) – Office Manager & Accounting & Marketing Coordinator

Lauren is responsible for managing our office locations and all things accounting.

Lauren has been with ViaGen for over 7 years, wearing many hats, including: accounting functions, patent portfolios, marketing, HR, trade show and office management.

Prior to joining ViaGen, her experience includes loss prevention and drug work utilizing her B.A. in Crime, Law and Justice from Pennsylvania State University. Lauren loves dogs and currently is a proud pet parent to a Chocolate Labrador Retriever named Coco.

Codi Lamb, Cloning Of Animals

Codi Lamb (with Scylla) – Client Service Representative

Codi is responsible for supporting Melain and all clients.

Codi is the newest member of the ViaGen team, joining in early 2015. While she does not have a formal science background, she has been around animals most of her life. She grew up on a farm in West Virginia where her brother raised Hereford beef cattle and pigs.

Upon graduating from West Virginia University with a Liberal Arts degree, she immediately added to her family by welcoming her dog, Scylla. She understands the importance animals can play in our lives, whether they are our family or our business.

Sanaz Arenivas, Cloned Animals

Sanaz Arenivas – Cell Culture Manager

Sanaz is responsible for the Cell Culture Department

Sanaz has been with ViaGen for over 12 years and has first-hand experience with the progressive development of Genetic Preservation and Express Tissue Bank services.

Starting her expertise in this field as a Research Associate, she has assisted and helped develop many procedures in the Cell Culture and Cloning Departments. For the last 10 years she has dedicated all her focus to the Cell Culture Department. She has held the position of Cell Culture Manager for the last seven years, overseeing the Cell Culture Laboratory and providing support to the Cloning Department. Throughout her tenure, she has enhanced protocols and optimized laboratory procedures to improve genetic preservation results. She received a B.A. in Biology from The University of Texas-Austin.

Rana Aljibouri, Cloning Genetic Engineering

Rana Aljibouri – Cell Culture Associate

Rana is responsible for assistance in the Cell Culture Laboratory

Rana has been with ViaGen for over 2 years providing Genetic Preservation and Express Tissue Bank laboratory services. This includes tissue processing and cell culture maintenance for several species including domestic pets and livestock. Prior to joining ViaGen, her experience includes clinical compliance, quality control and protocol development for Phase III clinical research trials. These trials were conducted to test efficacy in new pharmaceuticals. She received a B.S. in Biology from Texas State University.

Dennis Milutinovich, Pets Cloning Services

Dennis Milutinovich – Pet Services Manager

Dennis is responsible for the production and implantation of Feline and Canine embryos

Dennis has been with ViaGen for 7 years specializing in the production of embryos across multiple species including pigs, cows, horses and white tail deer. Initially, he started at ViaGen as an embryologist focusing on the production of equine embryos. Over the course of his career he has expanded his expertise to include production of other species and the knowledge to bring those embryos to term. Throughout those years, he has enhanced protocols and optimized procedures utilizing both his experience at ViaGen and prior laboratory experience. He received a B.S. in Medical Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Dr. Kelcey Walker, Cloning Livestock

Dr. Kelcey Walker – Research Associate

Dr. Walker is an embryologist in the equine laboratory.

Dr. Walker has been with ViaGen for over 8 years. Initially, she worked part time assisting with both Cell Culture and Cloning. Since, she has taken over laboratory management, cell culture and media preparation, as well as joined the Cloning team in the equine laboratory. She received a B.S. in Biology from William & Mary, a M.S. from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.