Lawrie Leads Western Carolina University's Biotech Center Western Office

Published: Jun 02, 2011

ASHEVILLE, N.C. June 2, 2011 – Jonathon Lawrie, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Western Carolina University College of Business’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, has joined the North Carolina Biotechnology Center as executive director of the Western Office.

Lawrie is an educator, entrepreneur and scientist whose career has included R&D and management at major pharmaceutical companies as well as the co-founding of several biotechnology companies.

“We are excited to have Jon on our team as we look for creative ways to grow this industry in Western North Carolina,” said Steve Casey, vice president of Statewide Operations at the Biotechnology Center. “Jon brings tremendous experience in entrepreneurism and education and we believe that with his guidance we can shape a culture of bio-entrepreneurism throughout the region.”

In his new post, Lawrie will oversee Biotechnology Center activities in the 25-county mountainous region known not only for its scenic beauty but also for its vast forests and rich diversity of plant species, many with potential commercial value in medicines and nutritional supplements.

“I welcome this opportunity to bring my interests in life-science commercialization and in education to this position,” said Lawrie. “Western North Carolina is a unique and wonderful region, ready to benefit from sensitive, sensible applications of the tools of biotechnology to create jobs. I am especially interested in assisting in the creation of new life-science ventures and university spinouts in the region.”

A native of Michigan, Lawrie earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Irvine, and graduate degrees in microbiology and immunology from the University of Washington, Seattle.

After a two-year stint in postdoctoral research with the famed father of recombinant DNA commercialization, Herbert Boyer, Ph.D., at the University of California, San Francisco, Lawrie co-founded his first biotech firm in California: Codon.

From 1985 to 2000 he worked with several large corporations in business development and product commercialization, including Amoco, Roche Diagnostic Systems, Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Becton Dickinson Technologies.

In 2000 he became president and co-founder of StemCo Biomedical in Durham, and six years later helped found Raleigh vaccine developer Arbovax.

Lawrie brought his business experience to North Carolina’s leading bioscience community college system in 2006, assuming management of the BioBusiness Center at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. Three years later he joined the faculty of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, where he concurrently earned a Master of Entrepreneurship degree.

He has served on many corporate and community boards and committees, including the Advisory Committee for Biotechnology in Western North Carolina; NCBIO; the North Carolina Natural Products Association; the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED); the American / Amsterdam Business Club; and the American Chamber of Commerce, Netherlands.

Casey, who oversees the five strategically placed regional offices throughout the state, has been serving as the interim director of the Western Office for the past 24 months.

“We took our time to find the right person, from a team perspective and a local-knowledge perspective – and a person with a high degree of energy and creativity,” he said. “Jon fits those characteristics perfectly.”

The North Carolina 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.

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