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Archive for Saturday, October 1, 2005

Several leave science institute board, citing conflicts of interest

October 1, 2005

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Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway and others left the Kansas City Life Sciences Institute's board following a reorganization.

Hemenway, who served on the board from its beginning in 2000, was removed because his service could be perceived as a conflict of interest.

Hemenway said it didn't seem like a good idea to him to be casting votes for which institutions such as KU or Kansas State University would receive Institute funds.

Hemenway said KU has received small grants from the Institute, but when those came to a vote, he recused himself.

"It's really the principle as much as anything," he said. "As long as I was on the board, it could be perceived (as a conflict of interest), and I wanted to remove that perception."

Irvine Hockaday Jr., retired president and chief executive officer of Hallmark Cards, is the board's new chairman.

"That's a very positive thing," Hemenway said of Hockaday's appointment.

Hockaday said the board must look across the region - from Manhattan to St. Louis - and identify and prioritize projects that hold the most promise and would have the broadest impact on the region. He said the Institute should then build support for those projects.

"Ultimately, one hopes that all of this research activity going on translates into jobs, economic development, start-up companies and so on," Hockaday said.

Martha Gilliland, former chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City; William Neaves, president and CEO of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research; and Frank Salizzoni, a retired chairman of H&R Block Inc., also left the board.

The board added Joerg Ohle, president and general manager of Bayer HealthCare's Animal Health Division.

Keith Gary, the Institute's director of program development, said the changes are needed to take the Institute to the next level. He said there also needs to be increased regional and state investment in the life sciences.

Since its inception, the Institute has distributed $26.2 million to various projects.

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