2023 Utah LifeSciences Awards

The 2023 Utah Life Sciences Award Winners

BioUtah has announced the winners of its 2023 Life Sciences Awards. Five awards were presented during the 2023 Mayer Brown Utah Life Sciences Summit Nov. 9 at the Salt Palace, in Salt Lake City. BioUtah’s annual awards recognize leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs who have made significant contributions to the state’s life sciences industry.

“Each individual and company receiving an award has made notable contributions to industry, blazing trails to advance life sciences and bringing hope and life-changing technologies to patients the world over,” said Kelvyn Cullimore, president and CEO of BioUtah.

“These awards reflect the leadership and vibrant culture of healthcare innovation we have here in Utah,” said Andrea Kendell, CFO of bioMérieux and chair of the BioUtah Board of Directors.

The awards and award winners are as follows:

Lifetime Achievement

Daniel Simmons, Ph.D., Intronex Laboratories

Daniel Simmons PhD, former biochemistry professor at Brigham Young University (BYU) and president and chief scientist at Intronex Laboratories, for his contributions to Utah’s life sciences industry as an exceptional innovator who discovered the COX-2 enzyme, which ultimately led to the development of the drug Celebrex – a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used for pain relief.

Simmons’ discovery of COX-2 began in 1980 as part of his PhD work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, on drug metabolizing enzymes. He continued this work during his postdoc at Harvard and into his position as a BYU professor. When he identified and cloned COX-2, with the assistance of student researchers, Simmons revolutionized the study of aspirin-like drugs and prostaglandins. Since then, doctors have prescribed drugs developed from Simmons’ discovery, such as Celebrex, to millions of patients, particularly those suffering from arthritis. Pfizer ultimately paid almost $500,000,000 to BYU for the rights to the technology.

In 2017, Simmons retired as a professor of biochemistry at BYU and founded Intronex Laboratories, a biotechnology company dedicated to developing new drug targets for medical intervention.

Executive of the Year

Mark Paul, Stryker Neurovascular

Mark Paul, executive director, Center for Medical Innovation, University of Utah and former president, Stryker Neurovascular, for his outstanding leadership in advancing technologies for the treatment of hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, and a 32-year record of accomplishment in the medical device industry.

For 15 years, Paul spearheaded Stryker Neurovascular, managing a workforce in more than 60 countries and increasing revenue growth from $230 million to $1.3 billion. His stellar career has focused on technologies for neurovascular conditions, peripheral vascular disease and abdominal aortic aneurysms. Paul’s executive roles have also included serving as European director of PV based in Paris, France and vice president and general manager of international for Boston Scientific Corporation. Paul brought the Stryker manufacturing operations to Utah in 2016 which has since grown to over 700 employees.

In April, Paul took on a new position as executive director of the University of Utah Health’s Center for Medical Innovation where he will continue to further the next generation of medical tools to improve and save lives.

Entrepreneurs of the Year

Andrea Mazzocchi, Ph.D., Katie-Rose Skelly, Known Medicine

Andrea Mazzocchi, PhD, and Katie-Rose Skelly, MS, co-founders of Known Medicine, for their inspiring, can-do spirit and novel work to transform precision drug development using predictive machine learning to find the right treatment for every cancer patient.

Dr. Mazzocchi has spent the last decade focused on cancer biology, tissue engineering and biomaterials. Based on advances in these fields, Dr. Mazzocchi co-founded and was CEO of Known Medicine, where she married patient-specific wet lab approach with data science to generate biological, computational and clinical insights to improve cancer patient lives. She has received numerous awards, including from the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society. She was also recognized by Utah Business as a 2023 CEO of the Year.

Skelly is a fellow co-founder of Known Medicine and served as the company’s CTO. Prior to Known, she spent several years as a data scientist at Recursion, where she collaborated with their high throughput screening team to evaluate scaleups and improvements to their platform, ensuring the production of a consistent biological dataset. Forbes magazine has recognized Skelly as one of its 30 Under 30 healthcare professionals.

Known Medicine was acquired in 2023 by Pathos AI where Mazzocchi is now vice president of partnerships and Skelly is the vice president of platform data insights.

Innovation Impact Award

Civica RX / Dan Liljenquist

Civica Rx for disrupting the prescription drug market by creating in 2018 a not-for-profit generic drug company to ensure that essential generic medications are accessible and affordable to everyone.

In recent years, drug shortages and related price spikes have become commonplace. Civica Rx has brought together hospitals and drug manufacturers to alleviate manufacturing and supply chain problems, ensuring a reliable supply of essential medicines.

Today, more than 55 health systems have joined the effort, including over 1,500 hospitals nationwide. More than 80 generic drug products have been released with over 140 million vials distributed so far to over 60 million patients.

This award also pays tribute to Dan Liljenquist, founder and board chair of Civica Rx. He currently serves as the senior vice president and chief strategy officer for Intermountain Healthcare, where he oversees Intermountain’s Enterprise Initiative and Market Intelligence & Planning Offices.

Friend of the Industry

Jefferson Moss, Utah System of Higher Education / Utah House of Representatives

Jefferson Moss, associate commissioner for innovation and commercialization for the Utah System of Higher Education, and Utah House of Representatives Majority Whip, for his dedication to deepening education, industry and government partnerships to promote medical breakthroughs, including supporting the establishment of the Utah Innovation Lab and Innovation Fund to help visionary seed-stage companies succeed.

In his current position at the Utah System of Higher Education, Moss helps to drive economic development and commercialization efforts across the state. Formerly, Moss served as associate vice president of central advancement at Utah Valley University (UVU) and the COO for the UVU Foundation. In these positions, he has demonstrated his passion for entrepreneurship, launching the UVU Wolverine Fund, a student-run venture capital fund. He currently serves in the Utah House of Representatives.