Wisconsin Biohealth Awards

In 2015, BioForward launched the tradition of recognizing, on an annual basis, scientific and business achievements in the biohealth and life science industry. As we look to the future, we reflect back on the successes that have brought Wisconsin to be among the leaders in biomedical research and development. Our recipients in 2017, captured Wisconsin’s broad impact on global human health, and additionally, their scientific and business contributions have had a significant impact on Wisconsin’s economy.

2018 Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Kevin Conroy

Kevin Conroy is chairman and chief executive officer of Exact Sciences Corporation. Exact Sciences is focused on the early detection and prevention of cancer, establishing a new standard for colon cancer screening with its noninvasive, advanced DNA screening test, Cologuard.

Before joining Exact Sciences, Mr. Conroy served as president and chief executive officer of Third Wave Technologies, a molecular diagnostics company, until the company’s acquisition by Hologic, Inc. Previously, he served as intellectual property counsel at GE Healthcare and in private practice.

Mr. Conroy serves as a director of the biopharmaceutical company Epizyme, Inc. (Nasdaq: EPZM). He serves on the board of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and has previously served as Chair of United Way of Dane County’s campaign and on the boards of Wisconsin Technology Council, BioForward and Overture Center Foundation.

A native of Michigan, Mr. Conroy earned his Juris Doctorate from University of Michigan Law School and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Michigan State University. He is married to Shelia Conroy and has three daughters, Meghan, Grace, and Molly.

2018 Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Allen Cowley, Jr., PhD

Allen W. Cowley, Jr. has been Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin since 1980.  Dr. Cowley is an international leader in cardiovascular research and has made seminal observations that have advanced our understanding of hypertension.

As the Chair of Physiology, Dr. Cowley has forged the development and integration of genomics, bioinformatics, computational biology and physiology to address questions of clinical importance.  Under his leadership, the Department has ranked nationally in the top 1-3 for NIH funding among all medical school physiology departments.  This strong research program, in turn, spawned the creation of the MCW Cardiovascular Center, the Human Molecular Genetics Center (now known as the Genomic Sciences and Precision Medicine Center), and the Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology Center (now the new Department of Biomedical Engineering).

As a member of the Advisory Council of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH, he spearheaded efforts which resulted in the investment of more than $100 million for the development of the needed infrastructure to link genes to complex physiological functions and diseases (Programs of Genomic Applications).  As President of the American Physiological Society, he was responsible for the launching in 1999 of the journal of Physiological Genomics in a determined effort to unite the genomic and physiological sciences in the identification of functional relevance of genomic research.  Dr. Cowley also has served as President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences and Chair of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Council for High Blood Pressure Research.

Dr. Cowley has received many awards and honors recognizing his work including MCW’s Distinguished Service Award, multiple honorary doctorates, and awards from the American Physiological Society, the American Heart Association, the NIH,  the American Heart Association, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology.

2017 Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Dr. B. Lynn Allen-Hoffmann

Ph.D. from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Dr. Allen-Hoffmann was a Damon-Runyon Walter-Winchell Postdoctoral Fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School where she studied human keratinocyte growth and differentiation.

She is a tenured, full Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Surgery at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. She is internationally recognized for her innovative research and clinical development of human skin replacements including the world’s first genetically-enhanced human skin replacements. The NIKS cells, discovered in her UW laboratory, are a consistent source of genetically uniform, non-tumorigenic, pathogen free human keratinocytes amenable to genetic manipulation.

As a result of the discovery in her laboratory, Dr. Allen-Hoffmann founded Stratatech Corporation to deliver cell-based therapies to patients with complex skin loss. She has received numerous state and national awards and is the first woman at the UW to start a biotechnology company. Dr. Allen-Hoffmann has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed publications and patents. Stratatech received a 2016 Tibbitts Award which was accepted by Dr. Allen-Hoffmann at a White House ceremony. Stratatech Corporation was acquired by Mallinckrodt Specialty Pharmaceuticals on August 31, 2016.

2017 Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Cynthia LaConte

With a vision of creating a more efficient, effective and easy to use health experience by more closely connecting drug and device companies with the patients they serve, Cynthia has transformed Dohmen from regional pharmaceutical wholesaler to nationally recognized BPO (business process outsourcer) and software provider for the life science industry. Since stepping into the role of CEO in 2009, Cynthia has grown the company to over 1000 employees, working from over one million square feet of space located in seven states. Dohmen has achieved a year over year growth rate of 57% and today processes billions of dollars in transactions as the trusted partner to hundreds of drug and device companies ranging in size from start up to fortune 500.

In 2008, Cynthia also founded the Dohmen Company Foundation as a way to make tangible Dohmen’s legacy of caring commitment. Each year a percentage of Dohmen’s profits fund the Foundation and its mission to connect people in need with lifesaving healthcare products and services. Since inception, the Foundation has contributed more than $10 million dollars to this objective, positively affecting over 123 million lives.

2016 Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Dr. James Thomson

Dr. James Thomson has conducted pioneering work on the isolation and culture of human pluripotent stem cells — undifferentiated cells that can proliferate without limit and have the ability to become any of the differentiated cells of the body.

Dr. Thomson directed the group that reported the first isolation of embryonic stem cell lines from a nonhuman primate in 1995, work that led his group to the first successful isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines in 1998. In 2007, Dr. Thomson’s lab reported (concurrently with Dr. Shinya Yamanaka) the first isolation of human induced pluripotent stem cells — cells that have the basic properties of human embryonic stem cells but are derived from somatic cells rather than human embryos. The derivation of human embryonic stem cells and the later derivation of human induced pluripotent stem cells were both deemed “Breakthroughs of the Year” by Science magazine.

Dr. Thomson is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received many awards and honors recognizing his work. In addition to his scientific contributions, Dr. Thomson has also contributed to the growth of the local biotechnology industry through his founding of Cellular Dynamics International, Inc. (CDI) in 2004. CDI has played an innovative role in industrializing the process of manufacturing human cells in large quantities as tools in drug discovery, toxicity testing, regenerative medicine applications, and stem cell banking.

2016 Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award

Ralph Kauten

Ralph Kauten serves as Chairman and CEO of Lucigen Corporation. He also serves on the Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards for companies in the biotechnology, healthcare, banking and manufacturing industries.

Mr. Kauten has been instrumental in incorporating commercial thinking and direction in collaboration with scientific teams. He has helped shape the purpose, vision, values, and strategy for a number of Wisconsin biotechnology companies.

His involvement in biotechnology started in 1979 at Promega Corporation, followed by involvement with PanVera Corporation, Mirus Bio Corporation, Quintessence Biosciences, Inc. and Lucigen Corporation.

Mr. Kauten holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BBA from the University of Iowa.

2015 Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award

Hector F. DeLuca 

Hector is former chairman of the University’s Biochemistry Department. He is well known for his discovery of the vitamin D-basedendocrine system and the development of 8 pharmaceuticals used worldwide. He was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1979. Hector has trained almost 160 graduate students and has more than 700 patents to his name. In addition, DeLuca is president and CEO of Deltanoid Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company founded on technology he developed, and has been responsible for the development of Bone Care, Int. (acquired by Genzyme) and Tetrionics (now Sigma Aldrich Fine Chemicals acquired by Merck).

Read Hector’s full bio here. 

2015 Wisconsin Bioscience Business Achievement Award

Bill Linton

Bill Linton founded Promega in 1978 and has served continuously as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. A life science research company, Promega has grown from one employee to a global corporation, employing over 1,300 people worldwide. Today, Promega serves customers in over 100 countries, with direct sales and manufacturing branches in 16 countries. Initially supporting university researchers, Promega now serves scientists in basic research, drug discovery, forensics and clinical diagnostics. The company continues to be privately held with revenues of $380 million.

Read Bill’s full bio here.