Editor’s note: This story was reported from the 2014 BIO International Convention in San Diego
By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
SAN DIEGO — The flow of visitors past the Oklahoma booth on the first day of the Biotechnology Industry Organization 2014 Convention brought many of them directly into the sight of Karen Waddell. Each was greeted with a hearty introduction and enthusiastic sales pitch for Oklahoma.
The president and CEO of Oklahoma City-based The Lynn Institute, Waddell is a first-time delegate to the convention with the OKBio group that topped 70 people this year. She enthusiastically jumped into the role of salesman, promoting Oklahoma before a world audience of 15,000 people or more.
But it was the opportunity to network with her fellow Oklahomans that brought Waddell to San Diego.
“Getting to know the people from Oklahoma is as important to me as getting some of the national contacts that we will get here,” she said. “We haven’t been engaged with the local science community because we had so much else going on at the institute. I’m just pleased to know some of them a little better, and I can pick up the phone and call them any time I want.”
The Lynn Institute was established by Integris Health in 1997 as a free-standing not-for-profit research organization with William Orr as founding president. Orr, now president emeritus, has done groundbreaking work in the areas of sleep disorders and gastrointestinal diseases.
Today the institute operates as two distinct entities, the Lynn Institute for Healthcare Research Inc. and the Lynn Health Science Institute Inc.
The research institute has filed provisional patents on a compound developed by Orr and Merideth Estep that simultaneously treats insomnia and an acid reflux condition known as GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. The research institute also is seeking a federal SBIR grant to support the research.
Lynn also has a for-profit arm that specializes in clinical research trials for scientists seeking to validate new drugs in development.
“We have about 180 clinical trials in-house right now — Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, sickle cell,” Waddell said. “We also have lots of vaccines. We have over 100 pharmas we work with.”
An Oklahoma City native, Waddell came to the Lynn Institute after decades of hospital administration and healthcare leadership, including the Presbyterian Hospital before it was sold to the Hospital Corporation of America in 1985.
Waddell discussed her role with Lynn on Monday, often pausing to greet visitors who were fortunate enough to stroll close by her area.
“I think the Oklahoma booth is great,” she said. “It is an outstanding life science community with wonderful work being done.”
Waddell wasn’t the only first-time delegate to join the Oklahoma delegation this year. Charles Mooney, vice president with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, was among Oklahomans at the booth on opening day.
“We are doing a lot more research at the Blood Institute and are looking for opportunities to partner with people,” Mooney said. “I’ve got 10 meetings today and 10 more on Thursday.”
Networking overflows at BIO
SAN DIEGO — Meeting space is “100 percent booked” at the OKBio exhibition booth at the Biotechnology Industry Organization 2014 convention, OKBio organizers said Tuesday.
That means that more than 45 partnering meetings daily are taking place in the three meeting areas within OKBio’s 1,600 square feet of space. The meetings between research scientists, tech transfer officers, potential investors and entrepreneurs last 30 minutes in a speed dating format.
Meetings spilled over to seating areas outside the formal meeting rooms Tuesday after the BIO organization mistakenly booked meetings in a “fourth room” that OKBio doesn’t have. However, organizers managed to accommodate everyone.