UVA Darden, Virginia Bio Foster Healthy Collaboration in San Francisco

By Dave Hendrick

Virginia’s burgeoning biotechnology sector was on full display in San Francisco recently, as a broad cross section of industry leaders descended on the Bay Area in mid-January.

The group, which included various components of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business network, came together at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the annual gathering that has become a must-stop for innovators, executives and dealmakers in the sector.

In an effort to bring together the various Virginia interests at the sprawling conference, Darden Executive Education and biosciences advocacy group Virginia Biotechnology Association hosted a reception for roughly 200 Darden alumni and industry leaders on the sidelines of the conference.

Organizers anticipated strong interest in the gathering, as Darden alumni represent well in leadership positions in businesses and investment firms in the biotech and health care industry, and scores attend the J.P. Morgan conference each year.

Darden alumni attending the event represented a host of industries and companies, including Goldman Sachs, Diffusion Pharmaceuticals and Bain & Co., among many others.

“The fact that both Virginia Bio and Darden have recognized the importance of participating and advancing relationships highlights our mutual commitment to excellence and leadership,” said Jeff Conroy, chairman of Virginia Bio.  “This is the beginning of a long and productive relationship to strengthen the life-science industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Darden has strong and longstanding ties to the health care and biotech industry. In addition to an active recruiting pipeline via the Career Development Center, the Darden Healthcare Club remains a popular and active student organization, and Executive Education offers a Leadership Partners in Healthcare Management course with the UVA School of Nursing, among other offerings.

Dr. Rick Shannon, executive vice president for health affairs at UVA and a member of the Darden Board of Trustees, spoke at the reception about the UVA Health System’s plans to collaborate with the biotech sector by helping determine the viability of medical discoveries at no charge.

“Showing how serious we are, we will co-invest. We will create a venture fund with a portion of our own endowment to invest in UVA technologies and Virginia companies and UVA grads,” Shannon said.

Speaking after the event, Donna Edmonds, CEO and president of Virginia Life Sciences Investments, said the networking opportunities provided by the Darden event were already bearing fruit, particularly as growing companies look to find new talent in an on-demand industry.

“The environment created by the partnership has really enabled access to opportunities,” said Edmonds.

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About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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David Hendrick
Associate Director, Editorial & Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia