Director of Life Sciences Management Named

Posted: June 9, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Patty Snellings

Jerald Coughter recently joined George Mason as director of life sciences management. His mandate is to advance the university’s commitment to biomedical research, which includes critical initiatives in biodefense and functional genomics, through the development of collaborative relationships between the university and biotechnology industry partners. He reports jointly to Provost Peter Stearns and Christopher Hill, vice provost for research, and he will maintain offices at both the Prince William and Fairfax Campuses.

Coughter is a proven leader in Virginia’s biotechnology community, says Hill. “His business expertise, his background in biotechnology and the life sciences, and his deep engagement in helping to create partnerships between Virginia’s universities and life sciences-based companies will benefit the university greatly.”

Larry Czarda, vice president for operations at the Prince William Campus, agrees. “Jerry is highly regarded by biotechnology professionals in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, as well as around the state. His background in business and biotechnology, along with his numerous industry contacts, are definite assets to fast-tracking our life sciences initiatives.” Czarda says recruiting Coughter is “a very significant hire for George Mason and another clear commitment made by the university to develop the life sciences.”

Before joining the university, Coughter had a similar role at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology since 1999. He previously held biotechnology management positions at Wako Chemicals USA Inc. in Richmond and Cruachem Inc. in Sterling.

“George Mason University is where information technology and life sciences converge,” Coughter says, adding that the university is ideally positioned to become the linchpin for biotechnology education and research in the Northern Virginia region. “It is exciting to be a part of the university’s commitment to these initiatives.”

Coughter, a Loudoun County resident, served as the first executive director of the advisory board of Gov. Mark Warner’s Virginia Biotechnology Initiative and is a member of the board of the Virginia Biotechnology Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Clemson University, a master’s degree in microbiology and immunology from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University, and a master of business administration degree from Shenandoah University. He currently is working toward his doctoral degree in public policy at George Mason.

Although he’s only been on the job a few days, Coughter already has many ideas about boosting the university to the forefront of the burgeoning biotechnology industry in the Washington, D.C., area. “There are several biotechnology organizations in the area, and we need to explore how regional entities can work together,” he says. He envisions George Mason as the “broker” that can weave these groups into a consortium or similar advisory unit. “George Mason is at the center of pioneering research, creative partnerships, and innovative academic programs. We are the obvious link.”

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