Bio leaders snag top awards at Governor’s Celebration of Innovation

November 18, 2008

By hammersmith

Two Arizona bioscience leaders, Daniel Von Hoff, physician-in-chief of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and Jeff Morhet, president and CEO of InNexus Biotechnology Inc., were honored Nov. 13 with top awards at the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation, an annual event calling attention to pacesetters in the state’s high-technology industries.

At the awards ceremony, Dr. Von Hoff was named the William F. McWhortor Community Service Leader of the Year, an honor recognizing his role in oncology research and the development of translational medicine. Morhet, also a finalist for the Community Service Leader award, was selected as the Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year for his work building the portfolio and profile of InNexus, a drug-development company focused on the commercial of monoclonal antibody therapies.

Dr. Von Hoff, who directs TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare and the TGen affiliate TGen Drug Development Services, is internationally known for his research on oncology-drug development and clinical-trial design. He serves on the President’s National Cancer Advisory Board, is the past president of the American Association for Cancer Research, and holds an appointment as a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center. He came to Arizona in 1999 as director of the Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona and joined TGen in 2003.

“Dr. Von Hoff’s colleagues and staff refer to him as the ‘heart and soul’ of the cancer research program and with his leadership, the methods of beating back cancer are being redefined,” said Mark Slater, president of Scottsdale Healthcare’s Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute, in the East Valley Tribune.

Dr. Von Hoff noted the strength of the research team at TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare. “I am really blessed with the tremendous talent that is in the community,” he said in the Tribune.

Morhet’s company has been on the bioscience scene in Arizona for less than three years, but he has quickly made an impact on the sector. InNexus, a publicly traded Canadian firm, moved its principal management and some of its research operations to Mayo Clinic’s Scottsdale campus in 2006; the company specializes in improving the efficacy of existing antibody therapies and marketing them as new products, in some cases establishing new disease applications. In the last year, Morhet has launched another venture, ThirdBiotech, which involves a networking group for biotechnology professionals and ThirdBiotech Research Group, a biotechnology business incubator.

“I’m humbled and honored to be recognized by the community and receive this award,” Morhet said. “I am thankful for the support of my family, peers, and the InNexus team, who have made this award possible.”

Other award recipients with ties to the bioscience sector included:

  • Chairman’s Award: Quinn Williams, an attorney at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig and a leading expert on venture-capital and private-equity investment;
  • Representative of the Year: Michele Reagan of Scottsdale;
  • Senator of the Year: Barbara Leff of Paradise Valley;
  • “Best of the Best” (high-school students cited for their outstanding projects at the Arizona Engineering and Science Fairs): Steven Fan, Tucson High Magnet School; Shemonti Hasan, Hamilton High School; Adrian Laurenzi, Tucson High Magnet School; Smitha Ramakrishna, Corona del Sol High School.

The Governor’s Celebration of Innovation is sponsored by the Arizona Technology Council (ATC), a nonprofit trade group, and the Arizona Department of Commerce. At the awards ceremony, the organizations presented a lifetime-achievement award to the architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri, in recognition of his efforts toward sustainable development. The Innovator of the Year – Academia award went to the Phoenix Mars Mission at UA; the other finalist for that award was the Center for Applied Nanobioscience at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University.

“The quality and diversity of this year’s award recipients is a positive indication that technological innovation in both large established and emerging small companies is thriving in Arizona,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the ATC.

For more information:

Doctor’s work on cancer research honored,” East Valley Tribune, 11/14/2008

Arizona Technology Council news release, 11/13/2008

InNexus Biotechnology Inc. news release, 11/17/2008

Arizona Technology Council news release, 09/22/2008