During a virtual event Oct. 29, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie will award the inaugural Wylie Innovation Catalyst Medal to alumnus Jack Gill and alumnus and faculty member Richard DiMarchi, marking the beginning of a new era of innovation at the university.
McRobbie said IU’s outstanding faculty make an enormous positive impact on the state, nation and world through their research.
“That impact is magnified by our capacity to move innovative research results from the laboratory or clinic into new or improved products and services that improve people’s lives and have a major positive impact on the economy of the Hoosier state,” he said.
“The award is named for Theophilus A. Wylie and Samuel Brown Wylie, two early faculty members who reflect IU’s longstanding tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship,” McRobbie said. “In 1887, the Wylies received a patent for a new and improved cyclograph, an instrument for scribing circles.”
About Jack Gill
Gill is a former member of the IU Board of Trustees and of the IU Foundation Board of Directors. He is a co-founder of Vanguard Ventures, a venture capital firm specializing in high-technology startups. Vanguard managed over $500 million in capital and was the lead investor in a number of highly successful companies.
A generous gift from Gill and his wife, Linda, established the Gill Center for Biomolecular Science at Indiana University in 1999. The Gill Center’s mission is to advance the understanding of complex biological processes and to train next-generation scientists in state-of-the-art biomolecular measurements, especially in the field of neuroscience.
“The legacy Jack Gill has built extends the reach of higher education, not only at IU but across the nation,” McRobbie said. “In addition to his involvement in teaching at universities that include Rice, Stanford, Harvard and MIT, the Gill Foundation of Texas has supported scholarships, research and clinical programs at the 11 universities attended by Jack, Linda and their children.”
DiMarchi is known for the discovery and development of Humalog, an injectable, fast-acting insulin for those with diabetes. It was the first biosynthetic protein analog approved for human use. Humalog now registers annual sales in excess of $2.8 billion.
“Richard DiMarchi is renowned for his ingenious entrepreneurial spirit,” McRobbie said. “He is the co-inventor on more than 100 patents. He co-founded the startup company Marcadia Biotech, which focuses on developing therapeutic products that improve the daily lives of people with diabetes and obesity. He also has founded Ambrx Pharmaceuticals, a national leader in the field of protein optimization, and Calibrium and MB2, both of which develop drugs to treat diabetes and related diseases.”
New models to boost innovation
The IU Innovation and Commercialization Office works with researchers across all campuses and academic centers to move intellectual property through the commercialization process. Simran Trana is the associate vice president of innovation and commercialization.
“The Wylie Innovation Catalyst Medal was created in the context of the university’s bicentennial celebrations to recognize past achievements and in anticipation of future successes. IU’s current innovation and commercialization efforts stand on the shoulders of entrepreneurial innovators, who have made tremendous contributions to technical and social progress,” Trana said. “As the university kicks off its third centennial, the translation of academic innovation into applied outcomes for public benefit will be a key area of the university’s focus. An example of this is the creation of a university-wide Innovation Translation Grant program with funding from the schools and the Office of the Vice President for Research.”
Trana said models of economic development at the state and local level are evolving. The COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate innovation-derived business growth and will require new models and resources from government agencies and private investment sources to realize their full potential.
“As we rethink our ways to find new models, we want to partner with local and regional agencies, and the state and federal government to develop programs to support this,” Trana said. “We can encourage IU students who are immersed in entrepreneurial activity, support innovative faculty with funding, and attract and retain businesspeople who can work with us to grow Indiana’s economy.”