Past and present commissioners of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, both with ties to Duke University, are among the speakers headlining the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s 26th annual Life Science Conference next month in Raleigh.

The conference, scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 1 at the Raleigh Convention Center, is presented in partnership with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and the North Carolina Biosciences Organization. It is the largest gathering of life science professionals in the Southeast and will draw more than 1,000 participants including entrepreneurs, investors, strategic partners, corporate leaders, researchers and professional service providers.

Attendees will hear global thought leaders speak about the trends, success stories and future directions of the life science industry, be introduced to innovative North Carolina-based life science companies, network with industry executives and explore partnering opportunities.

(Conference info: )

Speaker Robert M. Califf, M.D., MACC, is a cardiologist who was a professor of medicine and vice chancellor for clinical and translational research at Duke University before being appointed FDA commissioner in the Obama Administration in February 2016. He is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in cardiovascular medicine, health outcomes research, healthcare quality, and clinical research, and has led many landmark clinical trials. He is one of the most frequently cited authors in biomedical science, with more than 1,200 publications.

Califf will share the stage with previous FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., who served under President George W. Bush from 2002 to 2004. McClellan is now director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and the Robert J. Margolis Professor of Business, Medicine, and Policy at Duke. He is a doctor and an economist whose work has addressed a wide range of strategies and policy reforms to improve health care, including payment reforms to promote better outcomes and lower costs, methods for development and use of real-world evidence, and approaches for more effective drug and device innovation.

Other confirmed speakers at the conference include:

  • Ibraheem Badejo, Ph.D., senior director of new ventures for Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Center in Boston, where he leverages his expertise in smart materials and biomaterials to support the medical device sector. He previously was a research fellow at the company’s Global Surgery Group, where he was responsible for external and front-end innovations and intellectual property for Ethicon Biosurgery.
  • James C. Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) in Washington, D.C.  Since his appointment in January 2005, Greenwood has led the advocacy organization, which represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations.
  • Adele Oliva, co-founder and managing partner of Philadelphia-based 1315 Capital. Oliva has decades of finance and healthcare experience including about 20 years in private equity and has focused on commercial-stage specialty pharmaceutical, medical technology, and healthcare service investments. Forbes has recognized her on its Midas List of top 100 technology investors worldwide, top 10 life science investors and top women in venture capital.

Two North Carolina company CEOs, David Simmons and Cindy Whitehead, will co-chair the conference:

Simmons, chairman and CEO of Wilmington-based contract drug developer PPD, leads the company’s global workforce of more than 18,500 employees across 46 countries. Simmons came to PPD following 15 years with Pfizer, where he was president and general manager of the emerging markets and established products business units.

Whitehead, founder and CEO of The Pink Ceiling in Raleigh, is a serial entrepreneur who in recent years started and sold two businesses for more than $1.5 billion. She co-founded and last served as CEO for Raleigh-based Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which in 2015 launched the first FDA-approved drug for low sexual desire in women. In 2016, she opened the doors to The Pink Ceiling, a hybrid venture capital firm, ‘pinkubator’ and consulting enterprise.

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center