RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Piedmont Triad Office is welcoming five new thought leaders to its regional advisory committee.

The new advisory committee members include Ken Russell, Gordon Vail, Ph.D., Eric Muth, Ph.D., Summer McGee, Ph.D., CPH, and Serena Guzman. These new members are from unique backgrounds and experiences, academic expertise and industry perspectives which will guide efforts to grow the region’s life sciences assets. Geoff Foster is the new Vice Chair of the committee. Details about each new member are below.

Triad BioNight 2022
Triad BioNight 2022

Advisory committee members identify goals, strategies, and activities to strengthen the sector throughout the Piedmont Triad. Each member will serve as an advocate, voice, and resource for effective life sciences development, in partnership with NCBiotech’s efforts to grow the life sciences statewide.

NCBiotech established the committee in 2004, shortly after the 2003 opening of its first statewide office, to provide guidance to the 12-county region of the Piedmont Triad (within the Carolina Core) which includes Winston-Salem, High Point, Greensboro, Burlington and surrounding rural communities.

“This committee works diligently to bring their varying experience from academia, business, and industry, and create new ideas and perspectives to boost investment and economic development in the region,” said Daniel Erb, P.T., Ph.D. advisory committee chairperson.

The Piedmont Triad region is home to over eighty life sciences companies that employ approximately 8,000 people. The region contains high-research-activity universities including a land-grant institution, school of pharmacy, medical school, joint school of nanoscience and nanoengineering, and community colleges focused on biotechnology workforce credentials.

“We are so pleased with the strong representation from across the Piedmont Triad,” said Nancy Johnston, executive director of the NCBiotech Piedmont Triad office. “The solid commitment of this regional committee is so important as we continue to build partnerships across the state to identify solutions and accelerate growth opportunities in the life sciences.”

New members bring wealth of knowledge to the region

Ken Russell
Kenneth Russell, Director of Technology Innovation at Wake Forest University helps inventors turn their ideas and inventions into licensable medical devices and digital healthcare products.

Ken Russell

After more than 25 years in the medical devices industry, his expertise aids academic inventors in creating quality devices that are valuable to industry partners by using the resources of Wake Forest School of Medicine to design, test and develop commercially ready medical devices and digital healthcare products.

The guiding principle of his work is improving patient care.

He was recognized by the regional community with the 2019 Biotechnology Support/Service award at Triad BioNight for providing outstanding support or service leadership by building awareness through communication, policy development and advocacy, funding, and support of sustainable efforts.

Gordon Vail, Ph.D.
Gordon Vail has been with Syngenta Crop Protection for 29 years and is currently the US Head of Crop Protection Field Development.

Gordon Vail

In his current role, he manages a national team of scientists who conduct field, laboratory, and greenhouse research on a wide range of crops and pests.

Over the course of his career with Syngenta, Vail has held numerous roles including Head of Product Biology, Technical Product Lead, Technical Crop Manager, Regional R&D Manager and Field Development Biologist.

Vail grew up on a grain and livestock farm in central Indiana. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy and a Master’s degree in Weed Science from the University of Arkansas.

He received a Ph.D. in Botany and Plant Pathology from Purdue University. Purdue University recognized him in 2022 as a Distinguished Agricultural Alumnus.

Eric Muth, Ph.D.
Eric Muth trained as an Experimental Psychologist and has over 25 years’ experience post-degree leading a wide variety of research and development projects in both the laboratory and the field.

Eric Muth

Eric spent three years as a uniformed researcher in the U.S. Navy and performed data collection aboard ship, in aircraft, and in virtual environments.

Muth spent 19 years of his career at Clemson University and has been associated with over seven million dollars of funded research and one hundred publications, with the last portion of his career working on translational research in mobile health technologies.

At North Carolina A&T State University, Muth serves as the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development with the goal of helping others grow their research acumen and programs.

Muth’s graduate training was in Gastrointestinal Psychophysiology. He completed his dissertation at The Pennsylvania State University Hershey Medical Center. In 2019, Muth was accepted as a member of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. In addition to his behavioral medicine work, Eric is an internationally known expert in motion sickness. His work over the years focused on understanding the causes, symptoms, physiology, and prevention of motion sickness with specific attention on user experience and performance while wearing head-mounted displays.

Summer Johnson McGee, Ph.D., CPH
Summer Johnson McGee, Ph.D., CPH, is a prominent advocate for the education and advancement of women in health and science, for the advancement of diversity, and for the power of educational innovation.

Summer McGee

She currently serves as the President of Salem Academy and College where she has overseen two consecutive years of enrollment growth at both the Academy and College.

Under President McGee’s leadership, Salem College is transforming its academic and student experience with a distinctive focus on health leadership. In addition, Salem Academy focuses on becoming the nation’s only day and boarding college preparatory academy for girls focused on Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM).

Dr. McGee holds a PhD in Bioethics & Health Policy from The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in Philosophy and a BA in Bioethics from Indiana University Bloomington (IU).

She is also a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education Management Development Program. Dr. McGee also has served on the faculty of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and Albany Medical College.

Serena Guzman
Serena Guzman, Senior Vice President of the Atlantic Division, has 20 years of combined commercial and operations experience.

Serena Guzman

Serena has experience in change management, improving operational efficiencies with a customer focus, managerial finance, and driving growth through strategic positioning. In her current role as SVP, Atlantic Division, she has full P&L responsibility to lead a commercial and operations team comprising ~4,000 employees.

From 2020 to 2022, Guzman served as a Global Commercial Vice President of Enterprise Oncology, leading innovation and customer partnerships while driving cross-segment value between drug development and diagnostics. Before becoming a Commercial Vice President, she was a General Manager and Vice President, overseeing national oncology and pathology operational labs and strategic sales with full P&L responsibility of including ~1,000 employees at 9 CLIA labs (7 locations).

Guzman graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She received a Sales Professional Certification from The Sales Excellence Institute at the Bauer College of Business. Serena also completed a study abroad program at the Universities of Nationalities in Beijing, China, minoring in International Asian studies.

All NCBiotech Piedmont Triad Advisory Committee members are listed on the NCBiotech website.

(C) N.C. Biotech Center