Advisory Committee for Biotechnology in the Piedmont Triad Adds Two New Members, Appoints New Leader of Executive Advisory Council

Three bioscience executives from industry and academia have been appointed to roles on the Advisory Committee for Biotechnology in the Piedmont Triad, which advocates for bioscience development in the region, and the Committee’s Executive Advisory Council.

John Merrill
John Merrill

Current Committee member John Merrill, executive director of the Gateway University Research Park in Greensboro, will chair the Committee’s Executive Advisory Council, a subgroup of the Committee. He was selected by his Council peers to succeed Morris Clarke, who recently retired as an associate professor at Winston-Salem State University and stepped down as head of the Advisory Council.

Megann Vaughn Watters, vice president of corporate development at Burlington-based LabCorp, and Simon P. Selwood, Ph.D., director of business development at SoBran BioScience, which has a new facility near Greensboro, are new appointees to the Committee. They will represent two industries with growth potential in the region: agricultural biotechnology and laboratory diagnostics, respectively.

“As we work to support continued innovation and job growth in the Piedmont Triad, experienced leadership from human and animal health industries such as LabCorp and Sobran BioScience will be critically important,” said Nancy Johnston, executive director of the Piedmont Triad Office of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, which sponsors the Committee. 

Committee helping to transform the community

“As the Biotech Center works to transform our communities statewide, a key focus is to identify and implement ideas that will strategically support entrepreneurial enterprise, expand existing industry and attract funding and alliances including new companies and talent. The Biotech Center is fortunate to have our committee actively engaging with us to help transform our community through collaboration with industry and academia.”

Merrill is head of the Gateway University Research Park, a joint campus of North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro focused on industry, education and economic development in the region. Previously he was an executive at Rensselaer Technology Park in Troy, N.Y. He has an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a bachelor’s degree from Castleton State College (now Castleton University) in Vermont.

“I am honored and excited to serve as the new leader for the Executive Advisory Council,” Merrill said. “Given the unique life sciences assets we have in the Piedmont Triad region, it will be important for our Council to contribute to forward-thinking strategies. In the coming weeks, we are meeting to discuss short-term and long-term ideas that might have the greatest impact related to innovation and jobs.”

Megann Vaughn Watters
Megann Vaughn Watters
Simon Selwood
Simon Selwood

Vaughn Watters leads LabCorp’s Venture Fund and the Corporate Development and Licensing team responsible for identifying and assessing opportunities for equity investments, licensing and strategic partnerships for LabCorp, a global diagnostic testing and drug development services company. She previously held positions at Quintiles, the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Humacyte. She received her MBA from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.

“I’m honored to join the Advisory Committee and to support the important work of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to advance the development of unique life science opportunities for education, work and partnerships in the Piedmont Triad,” Vaughn Watters said.

Selwood joined SoBran BioScience, a contract research organization based in Fairfax, Va., with a new animal research facility near Greensboro, after working for several other life science companies throughout the United States. He earned a Ph.D. in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Newcastle University in England, followed by a four-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.  

Helping to build on Triad accomplishments

“I enthusiastically joined the Advisory Committee for exactly the same reason that we built a new contract research facility just outside Greensboro,” Selwood said. “This area is growing economically and technically; it is surrounded by renowned centers of higher education and, spearheaded by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, has generated a unique infrastructure and environment for businesses and entrepreneurs to excel. With my background in science and business development, I know I will be able to help build on the biotech and burgeoning agritech accomplishments in the Triad region. It’s a truly exciting time to be involved here.”

The Advisory Committee works closely with the Biotechnology Center’s Piedmont Triad Office, promoting bioscience economic development in the region encompassing Winston-Salem, High Point, Greensboro, Burlington and other cities along the Interstate 85 corridor.  

The Triad region has 81 bioscience companies that employ about 7,500 people.  

Committee initiatives have included lab and co-working space with the Wet Lab LaunchPad at the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and a NanoBio Lab at Gateway University Research Park; Triad BioNight, the marquee event for the Triad’s biotechnology community held every two years; and strategic work plans focused on innovation, infrastructure and investment to help grow jobs.

Here are the committee members

Following is a list of Advisory Committee members, with Executive Advisory Council members denoted with an asterisk: 

  • Chair: Michael Kelly*, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer, Piedmont Pharmaceuticals
  • Vice Chair: Daniel (Dan) Erb*, PT, Ph.D., Dean, Congdon School of Health Sciences, High Point University
  • Jerry Barker*, Chief Sales Officer, Sightlife Surgical and President, Novex Innovations
  • Michael Batalia*, Ph.D., CLP, Co-founder, Wide Eyed Technologies, LLC
  • Bill Bullock, Senior Vice President, Statewide Operations & Economic Development, North Carolina Biotechnology Center
  • Barry Burks, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Jennifer Byrne, Founder, Greater Gift Initiative
  • Robert Egleston, Executive Director, Leadership Winston-Salem
  • Algie Gatewood, Ed.D., President, Alamance Community College
  • Gary Graham, President, Graham Personnel Services
  • Andrew Hebard*, President and CEO, Technology Crops International
  • Nancy V. Johnston*, Executive Director, Piedmont Triad Office, North Carolina Biotechnology Center
  • Alan Jones, Director Business Development, Duke Energy
  • Genevra Kelly, MPH, Institute Partnerships, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
  • Troy Knauss, Partner, Guardant Partners and Vice Chairman, Angel Resource Institute
  • John Merrill*, Executive Director, Gateway University Research Park
  • George "Randy" Parker, Ed.D, PE, President, Guilford Technical Community College
  • Mark Phillips, Vice President, State Operations; Executive Director, Eastern Office, North Carolina Biotechnology Center
  • Russ H. Read*, Executive Director, National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce, Forsyth Technical Community College
  • Cynthia (Cindy) Rothschild, Ph.D., Partner, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton
  • James (Jim) Ryan*, Ph.D., Founding Dean, Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and University of North Carolina Greensboro
  • Simon P. Selwood, M.Sc., Ph.D., Director, Business Development, SoBran BioScience 
  • Terri Shelton, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, University of North Carolina Greensboro
  • Megann Vaughn Watters, Vice President, Corporate Development, Laboratory Corporation of America
Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
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