Don Leo, vice president and executive director for Virginia Tech National Capital Region Operations, and Stan Hefta, director of Strategic Business Planning and Development for the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, have joined the leadership team of the newly established Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation. 

Founded by Virginia Tech and four other state universities -- Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University, University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University -- the 501c (3) corporation was formed to foster collaborative scientific research innovation and to provide a new program for public/private partnering with Virginia universities.

Leo will serve on the 13-member board of directors and Hefta, who had an active role in the formation of the corporation, will serve on the 11-member Project Management and Oversight Panel.

In announcing the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said, “Bioscience is on the forefront right now, and R&D investments have a tremendous economic impact in total jobs and increased annual state tax revenue. The Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation is another great example of a public-private partnership that will bring companies in the life sciences industry in direct collaboration with leading universities to build on Virginia’s growing momentum in this booming sector.”

Increasingly, leading pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology firms are establishing themselves in Virginia. The commonwealth’s bioscience industry is made up of nearly 800 firms with approximately 28,700 employees. 

Virginia offers companies a central location in the mid-Atlantic life sciences corridor combined with access to leading research institutes, including SRI International, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 11 federally funded research and development centers, and 20 Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer laboratories. 

Opportunities exist for co-location and cooperative relationships with Virginia’s universities, federal labs, and other research entities, and the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation is designed to promote and foster these partnerships and increase the Commonwealth’s standing in life sciences nationally.

The board of directors for the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation is comprised of one member appointed from each of the five founding universities; five members designated by the Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, including one member from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, one from the office of Commerce and Trade, two from major statewide health care system providers in Virginia, and one from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; one from the private equity/venture capital community; and two members from life science companies.

The Management and Oversight Panel members include the founding university representatives’ nominated candidates; scientists from disciplines related to the scientific fields from which proposals will be developed; and private sector members.

The Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation will be funded at $5 million for 2013/2014 from the Virginia General Assembly’s General Fund. The five founding institutions will each make a $50,000 cash contribution in each of the first and second years.



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