Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation names board of directors

Entity was formed by $8.1 million grant

The KU Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation has announced the appointment of its inaugural advisory board of directors, each of whom is renowned in his respective field.

The institute was established in December through an $8.1 million gift from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. KU Endowment will raise an additional $8 million to support the program. The institute focuses on the advancement of medical innovations created by university researchers and training the next generation of medical innovators at KU.

Scott Weir, director, also serves as associate director of translational research at the KU Cancer Center. Weir described the Institute as a national model for translational research by assisting medical innovators in making discoveries at the laboratory bench, using an industry approach to advancing these technologies through a series of commercially focused decision points and bringing the most promising discoveries to the patient’s bedside.

Weir said the institute will help the cancer center in its quest to achieve National Cancer Institute designation. It will provide opportunities for KU to attract and train the next generation of scientific innovators. For patients, it will assist in the discovery and advancement of new drugs, biomaterials and medical devices to diagnose, treat, prevent and control diseases.

“We have formed an incredibly high-level, experienced advisory board that will ensure the success of the Institute,” Weir said. “They have outstanding track records in commercialization of medical innovations and strong connections to the university, either as KU graduates or through scientific collaborations. They will help us make decisions on which projects we invest in, assist us in developing commercialization strategies for the medical innovations and help us secure the resources to sustain the institute long term.”

Advisory board members are:

Christopher P. Austin of Washington, D.C., is director of the National Institutes of Health Genomics Center, Division of Intramural Research, where he also is an associate investigator of the Genome Technology Branch and serves as senior adviser to the director for translational research.

Steven D. Averbuch of North Wales, Pa., is vice president in the Oncology Transition Strategy and Development and head of pharmacodiagnostics in Oncology Global Clinical Research for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, based in Lawrenceville, N.J.

Anand C. Burman of New Delhi, India is chairman of the board of Dabur India Limited in New Delhi, India. The firm has holdings in pharmaceuticals, health care products and personal care and food products.

David Jenkins of Flanders, N.J., is managing partner for FatBoy Capital, L.P., a venture capital partnership with approximately $30 million under management. Jenkins graduated from KU in 1979 with a bachelor’s in business.

Michael D. Webb of Sherborn, Mass., is executive chairman of Virtify Inc., a provider of software solutions for regulatory compliance to life sciences companies. He is a founder and on the board of directors of Ascent Therapeutics and also serves on the boards of Estern Medical, Wolfe Laboratories and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. Webb graduated from KU in 1980 with bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and economics.

Thomas Wiggans of Atherton, Calif., is chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Peplin Inc., a U.S. and Australian biotechnology company developing a product for skin cancers and other serious skin diseases. He graduated from KU in 1975 with a bachelor’s in pharmacy.

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