In 2015, BioForward launched the tradition of recognizing, on an annual basis, scientific and business achievements in the biosciences. As we look to the future, we reflect back on the successes that have brought Wisconsin to be among the leaders in biomedical research and development. Our recipients in 2016, captured Wisconsin’s broad impact on global human health, and additionally, their scientific and business contributions have had a significant impact on Wisconsin’s economy.
Dr. James Thomson
Dr. James Thomson has conducted pioneering work on the isolation and culture of human pluripotent stem cells -- undifferentiated cells that can proliferate without limit and have the ability to become any of the differentiated cells of the body.
Dr. Thomson directed the group that reported the first isolation of embryonic stem cell lines from a nonhuman primate in 1995, work that led his group to the first successful isolation of human embryonic stem cell lines in 1998. In 2007, Dr. Thomson’s lab reported (concurrently with Dr. Shinya Yamanaka) the first isolation of human induced pluripotent stem cells -- cells that have the basic properties of human embryonic stem cells but are derived from somatic cells rather than human embryos. The derivation of human embryonic stem cells and the later derivation of human induced pluripotent stem cells were both deemed “Breakthroughs of the Year” by Science magazine.
Dr. Thomson is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received many awards and honors recognizing his work. In addition to his scientific contributions, Dr. Thomson has also contributed to the growth of the local biotechnology industry through his founding of Cellular Dynamics International, Inc. (CDI) in 2004. CDI has played an innovative role in industrializing the process of manufacturing human cells in large quantities as tools in drug discovery, toxicity testing, regenerative medicine applications, and stem cell banking.
Ralph Kauten serves as Chairman and CEO of Lucigen Corporation. He also serves on the Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards for companies in the biotechnology, healthcare, banking and manufacturing industries.
Mr. Kauten has been instrumental in incorporating commercial thinking and direction in collaboration with scientific teams. He has helped shape the purpose, vision, values, and strategy for a number of Wisconsin biotechnology companies.
His involvement in biotechnology started in 1979 at Promega Corporation, followed by involvement with PanVera Corporation, Mirus Bio Corporation, Quintessence Biosciences, Inc. and Lucigen Corporation.
Mr. Kauten holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BBA from the University of Iowa.
Hector is former chairman of the University’s Biochemistry Department. He is well known for his discovery of the vitamin D-basedendocrine system and the development of 8 pharmaceuticals used worldwide. He was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1979. Hector has trained almost 160 graduate students and has more than 700 patents to his name. In addition, DeLuca is president and CEO of Deltanoid Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company founded on technology he developed, and has been responsible for the development of Bone Care, Int. (acquired by Genzyme) and Tetrionics (now Sigma Aldrich Fine Chemicals acquired by Merck).
Bill Linton founded Promega in 1978 and has served continuously as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. A life science research company, Promega has grown from one employee to a global corporation, employing over 1,300 people worldwide. Today, Promega serves customers in over 100 countries, with direct sales and manufacturing branches in 16 countries. Initially supporting university researchers, Promega now serves scientists in basic research, drug discovery, forensics and clinical diagnostics. The company continues to be privately held with revenues of $380 million.