2006.02-10 Palm Beach Post Press Release
BIOFLORIDA CHIEF RESIGNS TO JOIN FIRM THAT FUNDS BIOTECHS
by STEPHEN POUNDS Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
BioFlorida is looking for a new president. But it has found its first out-of-state biotechnology venture firm to base a representative in Florida.
Diana Robinson is leaving her leadership role in the state's biotech industry organization to become director of business development for Aisling Capital Partners LP, a $550 million investment fund in New York that contributes strictly to life- science startup companies, she said Thursday.
Robinson will remain in West Palm Beach, making her the first executive of a biotech-focused venture firm from outside of Florida.
"There will be continued opportunities over the years in Florida, and we'll be at the forefront of that," Dennis Purcell, Aisling's senior managing director, said of Robinson's presence here.
BIOFLORIDA HIRES PRESIDENT
AREA BIOTECH TO GET BOOST FROM AD BLITZ
BIOTECH GROUP SHOWS NEW ADS
BRINGING FLA. INTO BIOTECH BIG LEAGUES
CALIF. STEM-CELL VOTE MAY HAVE FAR-REACHING EFFECT
In two years, and with the help of Scripps Florida's high- profile decision to build a research laboratory in Palm Beach County, Robinson has turned BioFlorida from a backwater outpost of biotechnology into a strong statewide organization that draws national attention to the state's life-science industry.
"She has been a very strong public face for the organization," said David Gury, former chairman of Boca Raton-based Nabi Biopharmaceuticals and a member of the Scripps Florida Funding Corp. "She propelled BioFlorida to the fore so that it is recognized at all levels in the state and beyond Florida."
Robinson is expected to stay with BioFlorida until a replacement is found.
Though her tenure has been short, Robinson is credited with pulling together biotech interests from around the state into one cohesive organization.
Its membership has grown to 200 from 100 at the time of her hiring, and the group's board has become more heavily weighted toward biotech chief executives.
"As with any state biotechnology organization, a lot of its ability to drive investment comes from having a board with CEOs as its members. They are really the thought leaders," said Tom McLain, Nabi's CEO and the only board member on the national Biotechnology Industry Organization.
Robinson's greatest contribution to the state's recognition as a biotech center may not come to fruition until after she leaves BioFlorida.
In the fall of 2004, Robinson made the first contact with the Burnham Institute, a respected research lab and Scripps' neighbor in San Diego.
Burnham is considering the Treasure Coast as the site for an East Coast branch.
Robinson, who came to Florida from California, had heard through her contacts there that Burnham was looking at other states for possible expansion, though not at Florida.
"(Burnham CEO) John Reed and I are acquaintances, and I called and asked him to please look at Florida," Robinson recalled remembers.
After discussions over a period of months, Robinson introduced Reed to Gov. Jeb Bush in the spring of 2005, and the state's economic-development arm took over courting Burnham from there. Though Scripps Florida already has 180 scientists and employees here, Burnham would boost Florida's chances of becoming a biotech hub and that would be Robinson's great legacy, said Les Croland, an attorney and BioFlorida member.
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.