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John Atkins Named Chairman of North Carolina Biotechnology Center Board

10/25/2011 11:44:20 AM

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. Oct. 25, 2011 – John L. Atkins III, FAIA, Chairman, CEO and co-founder of O’Brien/Atkins Associates PA, a multidisciplinary design services firm, has been elected chairman of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Board of Directors.

“The Biotechnology Center is a well-respected catalyst for biotechnology job creation in North Carolina, and I am honored to serve as its chair,” Atkins said.

Atkins succeeds Arthur M. Pappas, MBA, founder and managing partner of the Research Triangle Park venture capital firm Pappas Ventures, who served as board chair from 2008 to 2011.

“John brings valuable experience and insight for the life sciences that will continue to support the growth of the Center,” Pappas said.

“As a long-time board member, John understands the history of biotechnology in North Carolina, from which he will build a strong vision for the future.”

Atkins and his firm have been instrumental in designing the Research Triangle region’s landscape, from corporate offices to the Raleigh Convention Center. The firm’s portfolio includes major life-science projects across North Carolina for Biogen Idec, Eisai, GlaxoSmithKline, Icoria (now Monsanto), Novo Nordisk, Targacept, the University of North Carolina Greensboro and Wake Forest University.

A strong foundation for life science

O’Brien/Atkins also completed two projects focused on biomanufacturing training, projects which have given North Carolina an advantage in attracting these specialized manufacturing facilities. The Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC) at North Carolina State University retains its distinction as the largest facility dedicated to hand-on training for biomanufacturing workers. And the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise at North Carolina Central University is key to the university’s first Ph.D. program.

“It’s been a privilege to participate in the growth of the state’s life-science industry,” Atkins said.

“North Carolina has done a great job of positioning itself while the industry is still on an upward development slope. Life sciences will continue to be a significant contributor to North Carolina’s future.”

In his term as chairman, Pappas was instrumental in strengthening North Carolina’s position. During his tenure, Biotechnology Center activities and programs expanded, as did its headquarters building with the addition of the James B. Hunt Jr. Leadership Annex. While continuing the Center’s core activities of foundation-building through research-institution grants, Pappas focused increased attention on technology commercialization, company inception and growth financing.

Driving Job Creation

The state’s biotechnology industry employs 58,495 people at more than 530 companies. The total economic impact of those companies tops $64 billion and creates a total of 226,000 jobs. The statewide industry continued to add jobs during recession, growing 4.1 percent cumulatively during 2009 and 2010. Atkins wants to continue that momentum.

“We have great opportunity to create jobs,” Atkins said. “The competition for jobs is now global, and the Biotechnology Center is providing tremendous expertise to assist in attracting those jobs. Its regional offices, university-industry collaboration efforts and Centers of Innovation are creating great synergy across the state, making an even stronger case for those companies looking to locate in North Carolina.”

In addition to electing Atkins chairman, the board elected Donald deBethizy as vice chair. Michael Constantino was elected treasurer, and John F.A.V. Cecil was re-elected secretary. DeBethizy is President and CEO of Targacept, a Winston-Salem company developing a diverse pipeline of innovative NNR Therapeutics(TM) for difficult-to-treat diseases and disorders of the nervous system. Constantino is Office Managing Partner at Ernst and Young. Cecil is president of Biltmore Farms in Asheville.

Atkins has a deep resume in economic development activities. In addition to serving on numerous state and regional committees, he played a major role in establishing the Raleigh-Durham Regional Association in 1990, which evolved into the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP).

He has held leadership positions on the RTRP board, the North Carolina Chamber’s Board of Directors, the Economic Development Coalition 2000, the North Carolina Partnership for Economic Development, the Durham Chamber of Commerce, the North Carolina Railroad Company, and the Wachovia Bank (a Wells Fargo Company) Durham Advisory Board. Atkins worked to develop stronger business ties between North Carolina and Japan through the Southeast United States/Japan Association.

Atkins is a licensed architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows, a designation obtained by only 2.5 percent of U.S. architects. He earned his Master’s degree in Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served in the U.S. Army with a tour of duty in Vietnam, where he was awarded a Bronze Star.

He graduated from NC State with a Bachelor of Architecture and continues to serve his alma mater on the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science Board of Directors. He was awarded the Watauga Medal and recognized as a College of Design Distinguished Alumnus.

The Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business, education and strategic policy statewide.

Contact: Robin Deacle, vice president of corporate communications, at or 919-541-9366. Visit the Biotechnology Center's website at

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