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Home News Three NC life science execs crack PharmaVoice ‘most inspiring’ list

Three NC life science execs crack PharmaVoice ‘most inspiring’ list

Leading life sciences magazine PharmaVoice has named three North Carolina executives to its list of the 100 most inspiring leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. Named to PharmaVoice 100 are PPD’s Karen Kaucic, M.D., the company’s chief medical officer and president of its Morrisville-based business Evidera, and Rhonda Henry, vice president of patient-centered trials.

Jude Samulski, Ph.D., co-founder, president and chief scientific officer of Asklepios Biopharmaceuticals (AskBio), was also named to the list as one of the industry’s leading entrepreneurs.

The magazine’s annual list recognizes inspirational and innovative individuals who are making positive contributions to the life sciences. Categories include commanders and chiefs, entrepreneurs, change agents, innovators, patient champions, marketers, mentors and technologists. Co-workers and industry peers nominate recipients for the honor.


Kaucic landed on the magazine’s top 100 list in the category of commanders and chiefs for her ability to successfully combine her medical background with her business acuity. As CMO and Evidra’s president, Kaucic plays a crucial role in the Wilmington-based company’s daily operations. She is also a member of PPD’s COVID-19 pandemic response committee.

She began her career as a pediatric oncologist and researcher at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she established its first laboratory for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. She later transitioned to oncology clinical development before joining PPD.

“Karen’s passion for rare diseases and creating innovative solutions to address the unique challenges associated with those indications drove her to inspire others with that same interest to create PPD’s Rare Disease and Pediatric Center of Excellence,” said William Sharbaugh, PPD’s chief operating officer in a statement. “Karen is a strong mentor and leader, and she is always the first to offer her support to aspiring executives from across the company.”

The magazine cites Kaucic’s role in PPD’s pandemic response as just one example of how she leads her teams and co-workers as they navigate new challenges.

“Your teams need to know you feel the same pain points they do and that you are willing put in the effort alongside them to accomplish whatever needs to be done,” she told the magazine. “I give my teams the tools they need to achieve their goals, and I unleash folks to take accountability for and think creatively about how we achieve the vision.”


PharmaVoice also recognized PPD’s Henry for her selflessness and ability to motivate and grow leaders. As the vice president of patient-centered trials, she focuses on expanding access to clinical trials.

“When it comes to improving patient access to, and experience within, clinical trials, Rhonda makes it her business to understand every single asset or capability that exists across PPD and the broader industry of partners and vendors that PPD could or should collaborate with – if that collaboration can improve the trial conduct and patient experience,” said Nik Morton, PPD’s senior vice president, digital services, in a statement.

Henry’s commitment to expanding access to clinical trials inspires her team to focus on patient-centric solutions, which includes providing trials that are close to participants’ homes. The magazine also points to her role in establishing a committee that encourages diversity among clinical trial participants as just one example of her patient-focused leadership.

“In an industry with so much to offer and so many trials needing volunteers, we should be collaborating on easier and more effective ways for patients to find out about trials that may be right for them,” she told the magazine. “Instead, we are often competing against each other for the same pool of patients across our known research sites.”


Samulski has launched six biotech companies since he began his career in gene therapy in the early 1980s. Today, he leads the global R&D reach of AskBio, based in Research Triangle Park.

Samulski and his associates have been instrumental in the growth and acceptance of gene therapy. His vision has led to the development of advanced gene therapy and adeno-associated virus (AAV) technology that has created a future in which the goal to erase genetic disease is now within sight.

Under his leadership, the AskBio team is focused on five core areas of genetic research: neuromuscular, central nervous system, cardiovascular, respiratory and acquired and ultra-rare genetic conditions. The discoveries made in the lab are what motivate Samulski.

“Every time I see a new piece of information and I’m the first and only person on the planet who has that piece of information, I start thinking about what it might mean and what impact it will have,” he says. “It’s like being a perpetual explorer, every day I find a new world.”


Read the full story here

[Originally posted by WRALTechWire — Aug 20, 2020]

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