Why did you decide to attend UW-Parkside?

I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare and UW-Parkside had a strong Pre-Medicine program under Dr. Anna Maria Williams. I wanted to start my education at a smaller school to take advantage of the smaller ratio of professors to students. 

What activities were you involved in at UW-Parkside?

I wasn’t involved in any extracurricular activities while I was getting my undergraduate degree. I spent many hours in the lab generating data for my thesis while pursuing my graduate degree along with the other students in that program. While there wasn’t an official program, we spent a considerable amount of time together discussing our research and helping each other out. 

How did your UW-Parkside experience impact your professional or personal life?

My undergraduate studies provided a well-rounded education in the life sciences that now enables me to lead teams of scientists of multiple disciplines to successfully deliver projects. The graduate program gave me stronger knowledge within the discipline of molecular biology but, more importantly, gave me the opportunity to develop as a scientist by designing experiments from which I could draw conclusions to advance a project. That experience developed my confidence in the lab which directly correlates to my career performance.  

What has been one of the top highlights of your career?

I work in research and development for Abbott’s Diagnostic Division. Over the years I’ve developed multiple immunoassays for the diagnosis of infectious diseases such as HIV, HCV, Toxoplasmosis, Rubella and SARS-CoV-2 as well as a cardiac marker, Troponin I.   

I’m incredibly proud of my career, and it’s hard to pick a single highlight; if pressed to do so, I would choose the COVID assays. I’m humbled that I was entrusted with the responsibility to lead these projects due to the urgency in their nature. These assays were used to address many questions related to SARS-CoV-2 infection throughout the different stages of the pandemic.     

Who has had the biggest influence on your life or your career and why?

I’ve been fortunate to have many strong mentors across my life at school and at work but if I’m going to single out the one person that has had the biggest impact on my life and career it would be my wife, Jacki. I draw my strength from her and our children. I work to support my family and when I need to get away and relax, I spend time with them and my extended family. My wife sacrificed her career to be a stay-at-home mom which allowed me the time to focus on my own career and she’s done an incredible job making a happy home.  

What are your favorite hobbies?

Home improvement projects. It can be frustrating at work not seeing experiments come to fruition over years as you tackle technical problems, so I get a sense of satisfaction seeing something come together when building something. There’s an immediate sense of accomplishment. I also love the comradery working with friends so I’m always willing to lend a hand or even my tools. 

Tell us about your family. 

My wife Jacki and I have been married for 25 years and have a son Joseph that graduated from UW-Parkside in computer sciences in 2021 and a daughter Grace that is currently in her junior year at UW-Madison pursuing a double major in business and commercial real estate. 

What advice do you have for current UW-Parkside Students?

Take advantage of the small professor to student ratio. Talk to your professors. Try to get involved in their research and work in their labs whenever possible. That hands on experience will help drive your own interest in your studies. 

John Prostko is a Director of Applied Research in Abbott’s Diagnostic Division and is responsible for the development of immunoassays for the core diagnostics business with a focus on identifying new biomarkers to improve clinical diagnosis.  

Mr. Prostko joined Abbott in 1995 as an assay developer for the Diagnostics Division located in Abbott Park, Illinois.   He started as an associate scientist contributing as a team member to the development of assays to HIV, Rubella and Toxoplasmosis.  The success of these projects led to the promotional opportunity to become a technical lead, responsible for leading cross-functional teams to develop complex assays of higher sensitivity for Troponin I and HCV.  At the start of the pandemic John was chosen to lead the efforts to develop a panel of assays for SARS-CoV-2 in record breaking time.  John was the recipient of the 2020 Abbott Volwiler Society "Outstanding Researcher" and Core Diagnostics President’s Award for COVID-19 R&D Leadership.  He co‐authored twenty-seven scientific publications and has been issued five US patents and eleven non-US patents stemming from three patent families. 

In 2021, John was inducted into Abbott’s Volwiler Society as a Research Fellow.  The Volwiler Society is comprised of research scientists and engineers who are recognized as experts in their field.  Acceptance to the Volwiler Society requires a nomination to apply followed by an examination of one’s career portfolio and final selection is done by a scientific governing board.  Among Abbott’s more than ~110,000 employees, less than 100 have been inducted into the society.   

John received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and his master’s degree in applied molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside.  John is a lifelong resident of Kenosha County and currently resides in Pleasant Prairie with his wife Jacki. 

White hair blue eyes smiling at camera
Scroll to top