In recognition of his life-long determination to bring scientific discovery to benefit humankind by engaging with life sciences partners along the spectrum of academia, industry and government, and his leadership of The Wistar Institute, the Philadelphia Business Journal today named Russel E. Kaufman, M.D., Life Sciences CEO of the Year.
Kaufman is president and CEO of The Wistar Institute, an independent, non-profit biomedical research center and first National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Since joining Wistar in 2002, Kaufman has grown the Institute’s scientific enterprise and significantly raised its international profile by recruiting top-notch scientists, developing new biomedical research centers and expanding research programs and facilities. During his tenure, Wistar laboratories have contributed eight candidate technologies to the development pipeline, including vaccines for HPV and HIV, small molecule inhibitors of genes implicated in a variety of cancers, and a prototype screening test for very early detection and diagnosis of lung cancer, among others.
Kaufman also guided the Institute toward its first major building project in 35 years which will ensure its future at the forefront of cancer research and vaccine development. In 2012 the Institute broke ground on a $100 million, seven-story research tower that will enable Wistar to expand its research operations, recruit new scientific faculty and pursue collaborative biomedical research in emerging areas of science. In addition to his administrative leadership of Wistar, Kaufman maintains an active research program at the Institute, investigating the genetics of blood diseases and cancer.
Kaufman has been a pace-setter for the growing life sciences industry in the greater Philadelphia region, serving as co-chair of the Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Congress, and on the board of directors for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce; Select Greater Philadelphia’s CEO Council for Growth; the Council for American Medical Innovation; the University City Science Center; BioAdvance – Biotechnology Greenhouse Corporation of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Neuland Laboratories in Hyderabad, India; on the advisory board for Osage Venture Partners; and on the scientific advisory board for Pappas Ventures.
Building a strong life sciences workforce for the region is another important priority for Kaufman. In an average year, approximately 100 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists train at The Wistar Institute. Wistar-trained investigators can be found among the leaders in every field of biomedical science. In addition, Kaufman champions Wistar’s Biotechnician Training Program, a joint curriculum developed by The Wistar Institute and Community College of Philadelphia which prepares community college students for new career opportunities as research technicians in biomedical research laboratories at the region’s many academic institutions and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.