UW President Emeritus Lee Huntsman has been selected by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire as the first executive director of the Life Sciences Discovery Fund Authority, a public-private partnership intended to give life sciences research in the state a major boost.
President Mark A. Emmert lauded Huntsman’s appointment. “Lee Huntsman’s long and distinguished career as an innovative scientist and exceptional administrator make him a natural for this position. He will bring vision, passion and considerable knowledge about supporting research as the fund begins its work.”
Initially, the authority will have a very small budget — about $75,000 annually for the next two years. But in the third year, tobacco settlement money will swell the fund to about $35 million a year for 10 years.
The plan is to use the authority’s money as leverage to attract additional research funding from other public and private sources. “”The Life Sciences Discovery Fund is thoughtfully designed to help Washington sustain its competitiveness in vital areas of research and economic development,” Huntsman says. “I’m honored by the Governor’s request that I help her advance this strategy, and I’m confident the Fund can be of great benefit.” The details of how the fund will operate and how it will allocate research funding among public and nonprofit institutions, will be decided over the coming two years.
Huntsman is not leaving the UW. He remains on the faculty and expects to return at some point.
Gov. Gregoire commented, “I’m thrilled to have Lee at the helm of this very important endeavor. With his background as a brilliant scientist and inventor in bioengineering, and recent experience as a top academic and research leader, I can’t think of anyone more qualified to shape this initiative and help the state of Washington make wise investments in support of life science research.”
Huntsman served as interim UW president for a year before being named president on Nov. 21, 2003. He served in that capacity until June 2004, when he became president emeritus. Prior to the presidency, he served as UW provost and vice president for academic affairs. He joined the UW faculty in 1968 and holds the faculty appointment of professor of bioengineering.
He served as director of the Center for Bioengineering (now Department of Bioengineering) from 1980 to 1996. He also served as associate dean for scientific affairs in the School of Medicine from 1993 to 1996, when he became acting provost.
In May, Gov. Gregoire won legislative approval for the Life Sciences Discovery Fund. The fund is being overseen by a board chaired by Dr. Lura Powell, who was appointed last month by the governor. The governor will appoint seven board members. Four have been appointed by the Legislature: Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown; Senate Minority Leader Bill Finkbeiner; chair of the House Technology Committee, Rep. Jeff Morris; and the ranking minority member on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Skip Priest.