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Biodesign Institute appoints operations director


January 07, 2010

Lee Cheatham has accepted the position of operations director at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. He also will serve as general manager of the Biodesign Impact Accelerator, a new initiative that will dramatically accelerate the commercial translation of scientific innovations and technologies generated by the institute. Cheatham is currently the executive director of Washington Technology Center in Seattle.  

In his role as operations director, Cheatham will oversee a number of administrative functions, including security, facilities, health/safety and information technology.  In his role as general manager of the Biodesign Impact Accelerator, he will be responsible for program development and oversight of all operations for the Impact Accelerator.

“Dr. Cheatham’s expertise will be a tremendous asset in leading the day-to-day aspects of managing our world-class research facility,” said Alan Nelson, executive director of the Biodesign Institute. “In addition, with his proven track record in commercializing promising technologies, we have tapped him to lead the Biodesign Impact Accelerator with the goal of translating our research breakthroughs into valuable systems, devices and technologies.” 

Cheatham stressed that the Impact Accelerator represents a new model that will maximize the research expertise of the institute.

“The chance to be part of the startup of this new model is a unique and exciting opportunity that happens rarely in one’s career.”

The Biodesign Institute pursues research aimed at improving human health and the health of the planet. This includes strengths in personalized medicine, diagnostic systems and devices, cancer research, vaccine platforms, alternative energy solutions, bioremediation technologies and national security. 

Cheatham has served as executive director of the highly successful Washington Technology Center (WTC) since 1998, providing strategic, financial and operational leadership to the organization. WTC is Washington State’s leading technology-based economic development organization, and it supports and performs research that leads to commercialized innovation. Under Cheatham’s leadership, WTC expanded access to capital for Washington's small growing companies through the creation of the WTC Angel Network and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) assistance program. WTC focused on connecting companies to industry resources with new initiatives such as the annual "Washington's Innovation Summit" and WTC's federally-funded nanotechnology research program.

"Under Lee's direction, Washington Technology Center has continued as a champion for innovative, growing companies in Washington," said Mike Schwenk, chair of the WTC board of directors. "In his 11 years with WTC, the center has helped position companies and researchers to generate an astounding $500 million in external support for product development, manufacturing and jobs in this state. That is a truly remarkable accomplishment made possible by a state investment of less than $3 million annually. We thank Lee for his service to WTC and wish him well in his new post."

Before his position at WTC, Cheatham served in diverse roles that include founding a startup company providing software, technology, training and consulting to the real estate sector, serving as vice president of a technology company serving public libraries, leading an energy-related manufacturing project for Pacific Northwest Laboratory, and working in a variety of engineering related roles. He received his doctorate in electrical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1984.