ABIA’s Dr. Frank Douglas Honored in 2010 Rock Stars of Science

Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® and GQ Magazine have joined forces, along with the Entertainment Industry Foundation/SU2C, to bring together eight celebrity musicians and seventeen of the nation’s top medical researchers, including Dr. Frank L. Douglas, of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA), for the 2010 Rock Stars of Science™. The designation comes as part of the annual public affairs campaign, created and funded by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, aimed at raising awareness of the vital role science plays in our daily lives and highlighting true global champions of medical research.

The researchers honored in GQ’s December issue, on newsstands November 23, are joined in pictorials by musical celebrities Debbie Harry (Blondie), Bret Michaels, Timbaland, Keri Hilson, Heart (Anne and Nancy Wilson), Jay Sean and B.o.B.

An award-winning leader in healthcare, pharmaceutical research, biotechnology and entrepreneurship, Douglas, who serves as ABIA’s President and CEO, is the only recipient based in Ohio.

Douglas joins 16 other distinguished “scientific heroes” honored including Nobel Laureates Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, President of the American Association for Cancer Research, and Dr. Phillip A Sharp, Institute Professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Additional medical researchers being recognized included those from institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University Medical School, Columbia University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“This is a fantastic effort to bring awareness to the importance of science and medical research in an engaging way. I was delighted to be involved,” Douglas said. “It’s vitally important that we create inspiration to attract the next generation of students who will become the scientists, doctors and researchers who work on future live-saving, life-enhancing advancements. Further, it’s an opportunity to remind all of us that making valuable investments in research will not only improve our lives but also drive the nation’s future economic growth.”

At the Los Angeles photo shoot for inclusion in the annual Rock Stars of Science edition, Douglas was featured with musician Jay Sean along with Dr. Geraldine Dawson of Autism Speaks; Dr. Catriona Jamieson of the University of California; Dr. Emil Kakkis of the Kakkis EveryLife Foundation; and Rear Admiral Dr. Susan J. Blumenthal.

“The current gap between science and our popular culture keeps Americans from recognizing the centrality of science to their daily life,” said Chris Mooney, journalist and author of the book “Unscientific America” and a partner in the campaign. “They think science is some strange activity performed by slightly geeky others in white coats. In fact, science fuels our economy and is our great hope for cures to diseases that affect all of us.”

“The Rocks Star of Science campaign shines the spotlight on this critical national issue,” said G. Thompson Hutton, CEO and Trustee of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, supported by the designer menswear brand Geoffrey Beene, LLC, which dedicates 100 percent of net profits to philanthropic causes. “If we invest in research, we will save lives now and trillions of dollars later.”

Such comments are confirmed by national surveys that report that the public is out of touch with the scientific community.  Nearly half of those polled could not name a single living scientist.

“Scientists must venture outside their comfort zones to show the public how cool – and how important – their work really is,” said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, who was honored as one of 2009’s Rock Stars of Science™. “I’m thrilled to see all of these big-name musicians using their star power to shine a spotlight on science. However, it is only the beginning. I urge every scientist to get into the act by telling friends, neighbors, community leaders and elected officials about his or her research and what it means for our nation’s health. Imagine how powerful that would be.”

“We need to tap into the psyche of a younger generation that is turning away from careers in science,” said Meryl Comer, Executive Producer of Rock Stars of Science. “If it takes music and rock stars to connect kids to the ‘cool’ in science, and make researchers the new ‘heroes’ to emulate, then that’s how Geoffrey Beene will design it.”

Since joining ABIA in September 2009, Douglas has led an organization that is working to improve the health and economy of the region through an unmatched alignment of institutional, state, federal and philanthropic support.  Under his leadership, ABIA’s efforts toward patient-centered innovation and commercialization have brought success for the institute and its founding members – Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Summa Health System and The University of Akron – through ABIA’s designation as an Ohio Center of Excellence for Biomedicine and Healthcare and as the future home of the Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity for Biomaterials Commercialization.

Most recently, ABIA, together with the University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF), was recognized as one of only six national winners of the prestigious i6 Challenge, a $12 million innovation competition led by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The aim of the multimillion dollar initiative is to increase innovation and minimize the time from idea to commercialization. ABIA and UARF won for their “Innovative Solutions for Invention Xceleration” project.

Douglas was nominated for the 2010 Rock Stars of Science™ distinction by the leaders of the R.A.R.E Project, in recognition of his decades of innovative and important research and development in the pharmaceutical industry. The R.A.R.E. Project (http://rareproject.org/) exists to connect the rare disease community, drive greater awareness and aid in the development of effective therapies and treatments for children within their lifetime, through its two key initiatives, the Children’s Rare Disease Network and the Global Genes Project and Research Fund.

Douglas, who has been honored twice with the Global Pharmaceutical Chief Scientific Officer of the Year Award and was the recipient of the 2007 Black History Makers Award, served previously as chief scientific officer and executive vice president of research and development and as a member of the Board of Management of Aventis AG, where he headed drug innovation and approval, with global responsibilities for research, development, and regulatory and marketing support. He has led teams of scientists toward the discovery, development and/or registration of more than 20 drugs, including Allegra, Actonel and Lantus.

During his time at MIT as Professor of the Practice in the Sloan School of Management and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Douglas founded and served as the first executive director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation.

In addition to his ABIA post, Douglas currently is a board member of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he previously served as a senior fellow, and is University Professor in The University of Akron Department of Polymer Science and Professor of Integrated Medical Sciences at Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy.

In addition to the GQ spread, Rock Stars of Science will be supported online (http://www.rockstarsofscience.org) with profiles of the scientists, their teams and their research institutions.  Readers also will have the opportunity to celebrate their own Rock Docs, and qualify for limited edition campaign giveaways.

The 17 distinguished researchers featured in the 2010 Rock Stars of Science are:

  • Stephen B. Baylin, M.D., Deputy Director, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins; Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) Dream Team Leader
  • Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate; American Association for Cancer Research President; Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California-San Francisco;  Member, Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) Scientific Advisory Committee
  • Rear Admiral Susan J. Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.A. (ret.), Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General, Director, Health and Medicine, Center for the Study of the Presidency/Congress
  • Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Autism Speaks, Founding Director, University of Washington Autism Center
  • Frank L. Douglas, Ph.D., M.D., President and CEO, Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron
  • Bernard A. Harris, Jr., M.D., MBA, FACP, former NASA astronaut; Founder and President, The Harris Foundation
  • Catriona Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Medicine, Hematologic Malignancies, University of California-San Diego, Director, Stem Cell Research, University of California-San Diego Moores Cancer Center
  • Emil Kakkis, M.D., Ph.D., President, Kakkis EveryLife Foundation
  • Frank M. Longo, M.D., Ph.D., Chair, Dept of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University Medical School; Founder, Pharmatrophix
  • Joan Massaguė, Ph.D., Chair, Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Executive Committee, Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center
  • Mehmet Oz, M.D., Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery, Columbia University; Director, Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital; Host, Doctor Oz Show
  • Eric M. Reiman, M.D., Executive Director, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and Chief Scientific Officer, Banner Research Institute
  • Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate; Institute Professor, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT; Chairperson, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Scientific Advisory Committee
  • Charles L. Sawyers, M.D., Chair, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Executive Committee, Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center
  • Craig B. Thompson, M.D., President/CEO, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Chairman, Executive Committee, Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center
  • Mehmet Toner, Ph.D., Helen Andrus Benedict Professor of Surgery (Bioengineering), Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School; SU2C Dream Team Co-leader
  • Michael W. Weiner, M.D., Director, Principal Investigator, Alzheimer’s Disease Neuro-Imaging Initiative Professor, Medicine, Radiology, and Psychiatry, University of California-San Francisco