Kay Wagoner

11/26/2012 1:11PM EST

Dr. P. Kay Wagoner Appointed University Life Science Entrepreneur-in-Residence

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (IEED), is pleased to announce the appointment of Kay Wagoner, PhD as University life science entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR). Her leadership and innovation in healthcare, drug discovery and drug development have already made significant contributions to technologies emerging at UNC, and those contributions will be furthered in this new role.

As an EIR, Wagoner focuses on working with faculty to develop their discoveries and determine the best potential pathways to market.

“I have been extremely impressed with the quality and quantity of entrepreneurial life science opportunities evolving from prominent laboratories at UNC. I have had the good fortune of working with investigators who are developing innovative drugs, drug delivery technologies, devices and diagnostic tools,” says Dr. Wagoner. “The spirit of creativity and the desire to translate innovative discoveries into products is alive and well here at UNC, and I am excited to be a part of this revolution on behalf of IEED.”

As a successful entrepreneur and loyal alumna of Carolina, Wagoner has dedicated the past several years to fostering startups through her work as a Blackstone Entrepreneur-in-Resident, as an advisor with KickStart Venture Services, and as Executive Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

“We are grateful for Dr. Wagoner’s commitment to serve as University life science EIR,” says Dhiren Thakker, Associate Dean for Entrepreneurial Development in UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy. “With more than 25 years in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry, and with her experience in launching and leading a successful biotech company in RTP, she brings real-world knowledge and firsthand experiences that are valued enormously by the faculty entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams she supports.”

Wagoner serves as Adjunct Associate Professor in the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology and is President of Wagoner Discovery and Development. She also serves as Executive Chairman of the Duke spinout Valanbio Therapeutics Inc. – which is developing new antibiotics, and as an advisor and board member for UNC spinout Symberix Inc., which is focused on the GI microbiome.

“Dr. Wagoner’s proven experience collaboratively working with students, faculty and staff will underpin and carry forth our mission to strengthen UNC’s innovation ecosystem,” says Judith Cone, Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. “It is an honor to have her join us as an EIR, and we look forward to the great things she will accomplish in this role.”

Early in her career, Wagoner founded and served as President and CEO of Icagen Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in RTP. In her time there, she negotiated licenses to technologies from more than two dozen major universities and also negotiated and led multi-million dollar strategic alliances with six major pharmaceutical companies. She took venture-backed Icagen public on the Nasdaq in 2005 and in 2011, led its acquisition by Pfizer Inc.

Prior to Icagen, Wagoner founded a nonprofit cardiovascular company that delivered a broad array of cardiovascular preventive and rehabilitation services. Today, this services company forms a valuable part of the UNC Wellness Center complex. Additionally, following her postgraduate research work in physiology and pharmacology, Wagoner held research management positions at Glaxo, where she initiated and led Glaxo’s U.S. ion channel drug discovery efforts in central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

As a leader in health care, university education, drug discovery and drug development, Wagoner has been honored by her peers in the industry. In 2001, she received the Distinguished Alumna Award for Science and Business from UNC Chapel-Hill. In 2004, she was awarded the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award by RTP-based CED and also the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Regional Award for Life Sciences and Healthcare. In 2007, she was honored by the Women in Bio organization for outstanding achievement.

Wagoner also enjoys giving back to the community and has served on a variety of private, public and nonprofit boards of directors, including the N.C Biotechnology Center Board, the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s Emerging Companies Board, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Board of Visitors and the UNC School of Nursing Foundation Board.

She holds a master’s degree in nursing, is a Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist in Cardiovascular Disease and holds a Ph.D. in physiology from UNC. Her clinical practice spanned multiple hospital and out-patient healthcare delivery settings, and additionally she served on the UNC Chapel-Hill faculty in the School of Nursing.

To learn more about the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development visit oced.unc.edu or contact Michael Kline, Director of Engagement and Technology Development.

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