University of Rochester Chief Executive Officer for EDI in Rochester, New York


Full Time 40 hours Grade 098 Emprie Discovery Institute


The Empire Discovery Institute (EDI) invites applications and nominations for the position of Chief Executive Officer. Announced by Governor Cuomo in May 2018 ,EDI represents a $47 million not-for profit drug discovery and development collaborative formed between three premiere Upstate New York academic, research, and clinical institutions—the University of Rochester, the University at Buffalo, and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center—to advance drug discovery throughout New York State. EDI will harness New York's wealth of academic capital and provide resources and expertise needed to convert groundbreaking discoveries in the lab into life-changing treatments and medicines.

EDI is seeking a highly enthusiastic, entrepreneurial leader to build a new drug discovery company unrivaled within New York State. This visionary candidate will work with the EDI Board, its partner institutions, NYS health care companies, venture capital firms, NewYorkBIO, MedTech, and the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institution (Tri-TDI) to transform New York State into an unparalleled life science hub. This unified hub will advance life-saving science to patients and serve as a catalyst for new jobs, new companies and new industry-academic drug discovery collaboration opportunities in Upstate New York and throughout the state.

The Empire Discovery Institute (EDI)

The Empire Discovery Institute is an independent, not-for-profit drug discovery and development collaborative formed by the University of Rochester, University at Buffalo, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, each located in Upstate New York. Together, these leading institutions boast a diverse and robust scientific development portfolio concentrated in neuroscience, musculoskeletal research, infectious disease, immunology and oncology. EDI’s focus will be on the acceleration of early-stage drug discovery to advance them into the clinic. By moving new drug candidates through the discovery and validation stages more efficiently, EDI improves the efficiency of early stage discovery research and compliments its diverse portfolio with the tools, industry expertise, project management acumen, and external funding required to convert the highest potential targets into de-risked commercial opportunities, patentable products and life-saving medicines. EDI will support its academic partners by converting research discoveries into viable drug candidates.

The University of Buffalo, University of Rochester, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center have served as important pillars to New York State’s life sciences economy. Over the last five years, they received significant federal and other funding for life sciences research, with awards totaling over $1 billion from the National Institutes of Health and other government and private funders.

The University of Buffalo, University of Rochester, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified scores of drug targets currently under study in the three institutions. These targets represent considerable untapped potential for discovering drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, hearing loss, diabetes and drug abuse, among other conditions. Without this initiative, most of the potential human health impact of existing and future drug target discoveries by investigators at the academic partners would go unrealized due to the lack of research resources, expertise and funding needed to validate targets, design and synthesize compound libraries, and preclinical validation.

EDI will upend key barriers to commercialization of even the most innovative academic research—lack of resources and drug development expertise, which can block cutting-edge research from continuing on commercial pathways. These problems continue despite the increased dependence of biopharma companies on academic discoveries for new therapeutic candidates. The significant time lag and lack of significant financial resources between discovery research and commercialization of new drug candidates is so common that it is known as the "valley of death." By bringing together the expertise—both academic and pharmaceutical—necessary for successful drug development, EDI will overcome this "valley of death" to create an unbroken pathway bringing promising research candidates closer to commercial viability.

To help with this research, EDI will employ its own scientists—researchers with industry expertise in fields such as medicinal chemistry and protein engineering that are crucial to translating basic research into viable products. The institute’s staff will also provide guidance on meeting federal regulations and industry needs.

In the EDI model, academic and industry scientists prioritize and evaluate project strengths and weaknesses that determine whether a project will result in success or termination. This model refocuses time and funding on discovery candidates that are most likely to succeed. The EDI collaboration will increase efficiency, reducing the amount of time and risk in early stage development, while simultaneously reducing research and development costs by facilitating go/no go decisions. De-risking at an early stage will more directly translate pivotal research into patents and ultimately, life-saving medicines, and in turn, encourage the growth of new life science companies in New York. EDI is modeled on a successful partnership of Weill Cornell School of Medicine, Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute and The Rockefeller University called Tri-I TDI, which has been in operation since 2013.

During EDI’s initial five-year funding period, the institute is forecast to accept about 20 new projects. This means the institute will work with University of Buffalo, University of Rochester, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers to advance the development of about 20 promising drug candidates. By the end of the five-year period, it’s expected that several of the projects will have advanced to the point where a drug can be licensed to a pharmaceutical firm, or a startup can be formed.

EDI’s Academic Institutional Partners

The University at Buffalo (UB) is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's nearly 30,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. The University includes 12 colleges, making it the most comprehensive University in the New York state system: School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Public Health & Health Professions, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Engineering & Applied Sciences, Social Work, Law, Management, Education, Arts & Sciences and Architecture & Planning. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo was the first SUNY institution invited to join the Association of American Universities, an association of elite research universities in the U.S. and Canada. UB spends $389.6 million annually on research, seeking knowledge that leads to new cures, improved processes, stronger materials, faster computers, smarter software, smaller machines and thousands of other improvements. As a research university, UB is a major source of innovation in Upstate New York. The university leverages its strengths in knowledge generation to yield tangible economic results. The transfer of new technology to the private sector benefits the public while providing opportunities for further development and commercial applications of our researcher’s work. More than 255,000 UB alumni are making a difference in every state and 150 countries around the world. Among UB’s celebrated graduates are NASA’s lead astronaut for medical issues; a former president of the American Medical Association; the former minister of education in the People’s Republic of China; the CEOs of J. Crew and A&E; Television Network; and the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist.

The University of Rochester (UR) is one of the country’s top-tier research universities with strengths in neuroscience, musculoskeletal and immunology research. The School of Medicine and Dentistry was founded in 1925 as one of the first to integrate basic science and clinical practice, which is still a focus of the institution. The UR ranks among the nation’s top research universities and has been a member of the AAU since 1941. The University consists of six closely co-located academic units: Arts, Sciences & Engineering (composed of the School of Arts and Sciences and the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences); the School of Medicine and Dentistry; the School of Nursing; the Eastman School of Music; the Simon Business School; and the Warner School of Education and Human Development. In 2017, the university was awarded $19 million from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science to coordinate a network of more than 50 institutions to help researchers turn scientific discoveries into health benefits faster. In addition, Rochester received approximately $159 million in NIH funding in 2017, making it the largest recipient of NIH funding in Upstate New York. The University of Rochester Medical Center is ranked in the top 26th percentile of U.S. Medical Centers in federal research funding. Total research expenditures at the university as a whole are approximately $350 million. Past UR alums include 9 Nobel Prize winners, with the most recent award issued in 2017, and 12 Pulitzer Prize winners. Among our celebrated graduates are the composer of The Pledge of Allegiance(1892); the Founder, President & CEO of Xerox Corporation; President of the NCAA; Head of Google Research; numerous Academy, Emmy and Grammy Award winners; Vice President of Boeing; Nobel Laureate and Former Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Energy; U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education; Former President & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; Former CEO and Chairman of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company; Former Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and President of Enabling Services for The Coca-Cola Company; Former U.S. Surgeon General; Former President & CEO of Heineken USA and Current CEO of Craft Brew Alliance; and the First Woman President of MIT.

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Centeris a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center was the first institution in the world to focus exclusively on cancer research and is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in upstate New York. In 1903, one of our Chemists/Physicists pioneered new methods of chemotherapy research and has been recognized for demonstrating the potential of chemotherapy as an effective cancer treatment. In 1950, one of our MDs published a paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association that was among the first reports to elevate public awareness about the concerning health links between smoking and lung cancer. Also during the 1950s, the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center led a clinical trial which incorporated combination chemotherapy, a radical departure of standard treatment for acute leukemia—and led to a body of research demonstrating that “incurable” diseases like acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) can indeed be cured. In 1999, we led the world’s first clinical trial combining the monoclonal antibody rituximab (Rituxan) with a chemotherapy combination called CHOP—this treatment remains the standard of care for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In 2003, two of our scientists played critical roles in a world-wide effort to sequence the human genome which ushered in a new era of personalized cancer treatment. In 2017, the world’s first clinical trial using a two-gene combination for adoptive T-cell engineering therapy was initiated. Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer has fueled more than a century’s worth of medical discoveries and breakthroughs while serving as a model for cancer research centers around the world. From diagnosis through survivorship, our patients are surrounded by a multidisciplinary team of experts—doctors and nurses, physical therapists, nutritionists, psychologists and social workers—all working together to help them live long, healthy and happy lives.

EDI and New York State's Life Science Initiative

The Empire Discovery Institute (EDI) is a key component of the larger NYS life sciences initiative. In the FY 2018 budget, New York State enacted a $620 million initiative to spur the growth of a world-class life science research cluster in New York, as well as expand the state's ability to commercialize this research and grow the economy.

This multi-faceted initiative includes $100 million to expand the Excelsior Jobs Program Tax Credit to the life sciences industry, $100 million for a life sciences research and development refundable tax credit program, and $320 million in other forms of investment. This includes state capital grants to support the development of wet-lab and innovation space, operating support and investment capital for early stage life science companies that leverages an additional match of at least $100 million from the private sector.

The Life Science sector encompasses the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, and includes organizations and institutions that devote the majority of their efforts to the various stages of research, development, technology transfer and commercialization. Every day, firms in this sector are developing new medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs that have the potential to save lives, whether through new therapies or the early detection of diseases like autism and cancer. These firms are also making significant advancements in the realms of agriculture and environmental biotechnologies, helping create a cleaner and more sustainable future.

By strengthening incentives, investing in the facilities, and improving access to talent and expertise, New York will significantly increase its share of industry-funded research and development, support the commercialization of existing academic research, and usher in the next generation of advanced technologies. Beyond the advancements in science, this initiative will position New York as a magnet for emerging manufacturing- based enterprises, bolstering regional economies and creating thousands of jobs.

The Position

At the direction of the EDI Board comprised of representatives from the University of Rochester, University at Buffalo, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the CEO will have primary responsibility for the operating performance of the EDI. The duties and responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Develop and implement EDI’s strategic plan.
  • Plan, direct and administer the operations of EDI.
  • Recruit and manage EDI’s senior leadership team.
  • Build relationships to allow outsourcing of key functions associated with the drug development process with a priority on outsourcing to NYS based firms.
  • Develop and manage a network of innovative external scientific partnerships to identify and prioritize first-in-class therapeutic concepts, establish project value propositions and implement scientific differentiation and pharmacology studies to support portfolio decision-making.
  • Responsible for growth, prioritization, and sustenance of a robust pipeline that includes: identification and validation of new targets and assets through internal and external collaborations, and through commercial licensing and acquisition deals.
  • Develop and sustain effective collaborations with related organizations to include pharmaceutical and biologics companies and with venture capital firms to expedite the process of bringing new therapeutics to patients.
  • Serve as an active leader and partner with the Board in efforts to secure ongoing funding for EDI through Empire State Development as well as private sector pharmaceutical, biotech and venture capital firms.
  • Support the establishment and development of life science companies in New York State, and especially in Upstate New York.
  • Insure compliance with legal, regulatory and other laws and regulations application to the operations of the Institute.
  • Provide timely and complete reporting to the EDI Board.

Preferred Skills & Knowledge

  • PhD degree or higher in science and/or related medical field.
  • 10-15+ years’ experience within the pharmaceutical and/or biotech industry,including experience with multiple therapy areas/ modalities and program development from lead ID to early clinical development.
  • An extensive network of connections with leading investigators in the global science field actively supporting open exchange of expert opinions and visions of technology.
  • Demonstrated management and leadership skills, expertise in the drug development and commercialization process, strategic thinking abilities, and strong oral and written communication skills.
  • Strong problem-solving skills and sound judgment to accelerate strategic and project decision-making and evidence for successful cross-disciplinary stakeholder negotiation to drive portfolio and project results.
  • A demonstrated passion to translate research into pathway and target identification and validation.
  • Able to work effectively with diverse groups of people, the capacity to listen, and the ability to gain trust and inspire others to further the Institute’s mission and priorities.
  • Comfortable prioritizing, delegating and overseeing a complex organizational environment that includes collaborating with multiple academic research institutions, corporate partners, venture capital firms, and governmental agencies.
  • Capable of independently assuming project and licensing evaluation leadership roles to define and achieve team objectives and successfully generate organizational alignment in a timely manner, while simultaneously setting and directing the portfolio priorities.
  • Fiscally responsible and able to lead decision-making in enterprise resource planning, finance, project management, and outsourced CRO relationships.

Job Title: Chief Executive Officer for EDI

Location: Health Sciences

Job ID: 211305

Regular/Temporary: Regular

Full/Part Time: Full-Time