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Columbia Business Monthly

S.C. Life Sciences Leaders Honored At SCBIO 2018

Nov 09, 2018 12:21PM ● By Kathleen Maris

Photo: Bobby Hitt accepts Hall of Fame award from SCBIO.

To resounding applause from a record gathering from 4 countries, 22 states, and virtually every county in South Carolina, life sciences leaders at SCBIO 2018 in Charleston saluted three leaders – two individuals and one organization – for profound positive impact and exceptional contributions to the advancement of South Carolina’s $11.4 billion life sciences industry.

South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Robert M. “Bobby” Hitt III was presented with the inaugural South Carolina Life Sciences Hall of Fame Award for his personal championing of the life sciences industry, which today has an $11.4 billion annual economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 400 firms directly involved and 15,000 professionals employed in the research, development, and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products. S.C. Commerce is a founding partner and strategic supporter of SCBIO, and has been highly instrumental in helping the rapid growth of life sciences in the Palmetto State.

Hitt has served as South Carolina Secretary of Commerce since January 2011. Promoting a team-first approach to economic development, Hitt has positioned the S.C. Department of Commerce and its many partners and allies for industry recruitment success. Since 2011, Team South Carolina has recruited more than $35 billion in capital investment and approximately 125,000 new jobs to the state. This year alone, multiple world-class companies have made significant investments in South Carolina, including BMW, Samsung, and Volvo Cars. Before his time as Secretary of Commerce, Hitt served as manager of corporate affairs at the BMW Manufacturing Company in Spartanburg County after 17 years as managing editor of The State and Columbia Record newspapers.

Presented with the inaugural South Carolina Life Sciences Pinnacle Award for Individual Contribution to the industry was Tom Strange, senior director of research and development for Abbott Labs in Liberty, S.C. With an extensive background in materials science, Strange holds 48 patents and has authored numerous papers covering all aspects of capacitor development. He began his illustrious career with Philips Components in 1979 leading research activity involving development of capacitors that made thoracic implantable cardioverter defibrillators possible. Today, with more than 20 years at St Jude Medical/Abbott, his team continues to define state of the art in implantable medical devices for pacing and arrhythmia correction, neuromodulation, and battery performance.

Honored for his exceptional industry-related contributions and profound impact on the state, its citizens, and the life sciences industry, Strange led efforts to establish SC Launch!, the public/private initiative with the SC legislature to fund start-up activities in SC under SCRA, and helped to launch SCBIO as an affiliate of the national BIO organization. He holds numerous honors and awards and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics from the University of South Carolina.

Presented with the inaugural South Carolina Life Sciences Pinnacle Award for Organizational Contribution to the industry was Nephron Pharmaceuticals of West Columbia, represented by owners Lou and Bill Kennedy. A vision partner of SCBIO, CEO Lou joined Nephron Pharmaceuticals in 2001, and was named president/CEO in 2007. She led the creation of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in West Columbia in 2014 and oversaw development of a national sales force which helped Nephron grow by 300 percent and increased shipped product to over one billion doses annually.

Honored for Nephron’s economic, innovation, social, and quality-of-life impact in the state, the Kennedy’s helped establish the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center in conjunction with the USC School of Pharmacy. Lou serves on and chairs numerous boards including those of SCBIO, the SC Chamber of Commerce, the National Bank of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance.

The three honorees joined BIO global CEO Jim Greenwood and more than 50 additional national speakers at SCBIO 2018 – the annual conference which brought top leaders and executives from life sciences organizations across the state and nation to Charleston, South Carolina October 23-25.

Included among attendees were scores of top industry chief executives, leaders in government and higher education, biotechnology and pharma executives, clinicians and researchers, and industry supporters from across America, including I.V. Hall, DePuy Synthes global orthopedic leader; Bell Zhong, J.P. Morgan executive director of healthcare investment banking; David Cole, MUSC president; Harris Pastides, USC president; Dave Pacitti, Siemens Healthineers North Americas president; and numerous others.

SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has an $11.4 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 400 firms directly involved and 15,000 professionals employed in the research, development, and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products.

“The life sciences industry is a major driver of South Carolina’s economy, and these noted honorees and this conference is testament to the industry’s growing impact, reach and rapidly rising economic significance in our state and region,” noted SCBIO President and CEO Sam Konduros. “We’re pleased to honor them for their many contributions, and salute them for the advances they have facilitated for this industry.”

As the official state affiliate of BIO – the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology organizations – SCBIO members include hundreds of academic institutions, biotech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations, and related groups whose members are leading the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial, and environmental biotechnology products that transform how we heal, fuel, and feed the world.

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