Hilary Ratner, Ph.D., vice president for research at Wayne State University, announced the appointment of Joan C. Dunbar, Ph.D., of Bloomfield, Mich., as associate vice president of technology commercialization in the Division of Research. Dunbar assumes her new position effective immediately. Her appointment comes after a competitive national search in which she emerged as the transformational leader the university sought.
In 2012, Dunbar joined WSU’s Division of Research as interim associate vice president of technology commercialization. In just a year, Dunbar nearly doubled faculty invention disclosures, facilitated the pipeline of nine start-up opportunities with the anticipation of several companies launching in the near future, initiated a mentors-in-residence program, created an innovation fellows program, began the Technology Development Incubator, and strengthened partnerships with WSU’s TechTown. These significant achievements were powered by grant funds, projected to be $2.5 million over a three year period that Dunbar secured from the New Economy Initiative (NEI).
“The grant from the NEI has allowed Wayne State to re-invent technology commercialization on our campus,” said Ratner. “With the help of the NEI, Dr. Dunbar is re-energizing our faculty and students to translate their research in even more productive ways that benefit not only the university but the region, state and nation as well. Dr. Dunbar’s deep knowledge and experience will serve Wayne State and our faculty well as we advance the mission of the Wayne State’s Technology Commercialization Office.”
Dunbar brings energy and vision to the Technology Commercialization Office built on an impressive foundation of accomplishments. Dunbar received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Sydney, and undertook postdoctoral studies at the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen, Denmark and subsequently at the University of California, Irvine.
She was appointed assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Molecular Biology and Center for Molecular Biology and Genetics in 1987. She has served as principal investigator and co-investigator on many grants funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and collaborated extensively with industry on these projects. She published numerous papers on protein–DNA recognition and transcriptional regulation. In 1997, Dunbar became consultant director of research and biotechnology development in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics where she developed key academic and industry partnerships, created the Biotechnology Core Lab, and provided faculty support in securing SBIR and STTR grants.
In 2000, Dunbar became the founding director of biotechnology development and biomedical innovation in Wayne State’s School of Medicine. In this role, Dunbar established a new enterprise and infrastructure to promote and facilitate commercial translation of academic research by providing critical outreach and counseling to faculty on invention disclosures, intellectual property and technology commercialization. She created one of the first “Business of Biotech” curriculum programs in the nation that focused on engaging graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in biomedical sciences in entrepreneurship.
“Dr. Dunbar has played a key role in Wayne State’s School of Medicine to develop technology commercialization strategies for biomedical technologies stemming from research,” said Bonnie Stanton, M.D., vice dean of research in WSU’s School of Medicine. “In conjunction with Wayne’s main technology commercialization team, Dr. Dunbar was instrumental in launching a new technology commercialization culture in the School of Medicine to prepare faculty to take their research discoveries to the next level.”
“I look forward to continuing to build the infrastructure to support technology commercialization and to effectively capitalize on the research enterprise at WSU” said Dunbar. “I am pleased to be chosen to lead the university’s efforts and work with our faculty and local and state wide resources to bring innovative products and services to the clinic and to the marketplace.”
Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research institutions in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit www.research.wayne.edu.