The Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO) hosted the thirteenth annual iCON awards last night at The Chicago Botanic Garden.

The night brought members of the life sciences community together to celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding innovators and leaders whose work provides the basis for life sciences developments worldwide. Funds raised at the iCON Awards ceremony supports the mission of iBIO’s EDUCATE Programs, a 501(c)3 public charity, which orchestrates business leadership in delivery of world-class educational after-school programs and summer STEM camps for girls grades 3-8 in underserved Illinois schools.

“Each year we are proud to support the work of trailblazing life sciences innovators and educators in Illinois,” said John Conrad, president and CEO of iBIO. “Funds raised will allow us to continue to provide STEM learning opportunities to students and teachers across the state in support the next generation of life science innovators here in Illinois.”

The 2019 iCON Entrepreneurial Award, which recognizes a pioneering entrepreneur who is a risk taker and visionary leader, was presented to Paul Edick, Chairman and CEO of Xeris, a public specialty pharmaceutical company leveraging novel formulation technology platforms to develop and commercialize ready-to-use, liquid-stable injectables.

Edick joined Xeris Pharmaceuticals as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in January 2017.  Prior to joining Xeris, Edick was a Founding Partner of 3G Advisors, a consultancy to the pharmaceutical, healthcare and healthcare investor communities. In addition, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Durata Therapeutics from 2010-2014 and has held the post of CEO at a number of other pharmaceutical companies, including Ganic Pharmaceuticals and MedPointe Healthcare, Inc. Edick currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Milestone Pharmaceuticals Inc. Mr. Edick has also previously served on a number of pharmaceutical and healthcare company boards, including Interim Therapeutics, PDL, BioPharma, Neos Therapeutics, NewLink Genetics Inc., Circassia Pharmaceuticals plc, Sucampo Pharmaceuticals, Amerita Inc., and Informed Medical Communications.

The 2019 iCON Innovator Award, which recognizes scientists who demonstrate leadership potential at the frontier of knowledge in the life sciences and conduct research that is anticipated to enhance economic development in the State of Illinois, was presented to Dr. Martin Burke, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Associate Dean for Research at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. 

Dr. Burke’s group has pioneered the field of molecular prosthetics, including the development of an automated Lego-like platform for democratizing small molecule synthesis. Dr. Burke has received a number of honors and awards, including the Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry from the American Chemical Society and has garnered praise for excellence in teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Burke is also the founder of four biotechnology companies: REVOLUTION Medicines, Ambys Medicines, Sfunga Therapeutics and Cystetic Medicines. 

The iCON Knowledge Builder Award, which recognizes educators who demonstrate exemplary teaching at the grade 6-12 level, and who have positively impacted students’ understanding of biotechnology’s promise and challenges, was presented to Rebecca Voight, a teacher at Andrew Cooke Magnet Elementary School in Waukegan, Illinois.

Voight is a member of the Instructional Leadership Team and has led the school’s engagement with the StellarGirls program for the past three years. Voight has a Masters of Education in Curriculum from Lesly University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and a B.A. in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University.