BioUtah announced its 2017 Life Sciences award winners. BioUtah’s awards recognize leaders and innovators in the state’s life sciences industry. The awards were presented during a special Summit luncheon November 3, at the Grand America Hotel.
“We congratulate this year’s award winners; they are all phenomenal success stories,” said Kelly Slone, President and CEO of BioUtah. “Each person and organization being recognized has played a significant role in advancing Utah’s life sciences community. We’re honored to celebrate their contributions to life-saving innovation, education and building thriving new enterprises from the ground up right here in our state.”
The following individuals, companies and organizations were honored:
- Outstanding Individual Contribution Award - Ashok Khandkar (AK), PhD, CEO of Xenecor, and Kelly Powers, former VP of Science and Technology for C.R. Bard, were both recognized as leaders who have made substantial scientific, service and/or professional contributions to Utah’s life sciences community.
Khandkar was recognized for his 30-year career in founding and capitalizing ventures and launching groundbreaking products. He has 40 U.S. and international patents. In 2010, he won the Utah Governor’s Science and Technology Medal for successfully pioneering a new class of biomaterials for orthopedics. Powers was recognized for his work at Bard Access Systems. During his tenure there, R&D became one of the company’s fastest growing divisions. Powers holds 50 U.S. patents, largely in medical devices and more than 200 international patents. In 2011, he received the Utah Governor’s Science and Technology Medal.
- Outstanding Entrepreneurial Spirit Award - Travis Sessions, CEO of Biomerics LLC and a founding partner of Med Venture Holdings, was recognized for starting Biomerics in 2009 from a custom contract injection molding company formerly known as Utah Plastics Group. Today, Biomerics has seven business units with operations in four U.S. locations. Biomerics has experienced a 400% growth in sales in its eight years of doing business as a full-service polymer solution provider and contract manufacturer for the medical device and biotech industries. Sessions has also demonstrated a home-grown commitment to entrepreneurship, as Biomerics will be relocating to a new corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City that will expand its device, design and manufacturing capabilities, and accommodate more than 500 employees. Biomerics is also an employer partner in the Medical Innovations Pathways program.
- Outstanding Corporate Contribution Award - Nelson Laboratories was recognized for demonstrating the highest standards of quality, commitment to community building and success that highlights Utah as a desirable place to do business. Nelson has a rich tradition of quality, service and trust dating back to its founders, Dr. Jerry R. Nelson and Lynda S. Nelson. President and son, Jeffrey Nelson, has carried on his parents’ legacy, leading a 600+ employee, global organization that lives and works by these values as they help life sciences manufacturers bring products to market. Nelson is a business unit of Sterigenics International LLC and is also an employer partner in the Medical Innovations Pathways program
- Outstanding Public Service Award - Granite School District was recognized for its initiative, leadership and partnership in helping to establish the Medical Innovations Pathways program. Superintendent Martin Bates accepted the award for the District. Sandi Hemmert, CTE Specialist for the District, along with several instructors, worked closely with BioUtah in implementing a 2016 Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership (UCAP) grant to develop a Medical Innovations Pathways pilot program that has now expanded to four additional school districts.
- Medical Innovations Pathways Student Achievement Award - Timothy “Cort” Olschewski was awarded this first of its kind award and $1,500 scholarship after becoming one of the first students to successfully complete the pathways program and earn a Medical Innovations Certificate. In addition to his academic achievement, Olschewski, a 2017 graduate of Hunter High, was recognized for working part-time at Merit Medical, where he’s gaining practical experience while pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Utah. Merit is an employer partner and mentor in the Medical Innovations Pathways program, offering Olschewski the opportunity to earn while he learns - an important principle of the program.
- Willem J. Kolff Lifetime Achievement Award - The winner of this year’s Kolff Award is Hunter Jackson, PhD, co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Navigen. Jackson also was co-founder, Chairman and CEO of NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc., which developed products for patients with kidney disease, and the rare diseases of short bowel syndrome and hypoparathyroidism. He was instrumental in the growth and success of NPS, which helped put the state on the map as a key player in the life sciences industry. Jackson has a distinguished history of contributing to the industry in Utah. He served on the board of directors of USTAR, was awarded the 2002 Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology, and the 1998 Ernst & Young Utah Entrepreneur of the Year award. Prior to the founding of NPS in 1986, Jackson was on the faculty of the University of Utah School of Medicine, focusing his research in the area of developmental neurobiology.