SOURCE: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

March 15, 2010 08:00 ET

Two Postdoctoral Entrepreneurs Are Recognized for Excellence

Inaugural Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Awards Presented at the 8th Annual Meeting of the National Postdoctoral Association

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwire - March 15, 2010) -  For the first time, the entrepreneurial performance of postdoctoral researchers in the scientific community is being formally honored and celebrated. Dr. Stephen W. Turner, chief technology officer of Pacific Biosciences, has been named the 2010 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur, and Dr. Antonio R. Webb, co-founder, senior scientist, and lead development engineer of VesselTek, has been named the 2010 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur. Dr. Turner received a $10,000 honorarium, and Dr. Webb received a $2,500 honorarium.

The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) awarded the inaugural postdoctoral entrepreneur awards on Friday, March 12, during the opening session of its 8th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Penn. Sandra Miller, director of advancing innovation at the Kauffman Foundation, presented the awards.

"Postdoctoral scholars who take the entrepreneurial steps to get their research to market bring enormous potential to society and the economy," said Sandra Miller. "These awards aim to recognize and encourage entrepreneurial excellence in the scientific community."

The NPA received nearly 100 nominations for the two awards. The new award program was first announced at the NPA's 7th Annual Meeting last March in Houston, Tex. The award program is part of the Kauffman Foundation's ongoing effort to harness the entrepreneurial potential of postdoctoral researchers and scientists across the United States.

"The selection committee was very impressed with the high quality of the applications," said Cathee Johnson Phillips, executive director of the NPA. "They faced a tough decision among a highly competitive field of candidates. We are so grateful to the Kauffman Foundation for making this award program possible and helping us to increase awareness of the benefits of entrepreneurship in the postdoctoral community."

The selection committee included: Dr. Eric Elenko, senior principal, PureTech Ventures; Dr. Peter Fiske, co-founder, RAPT Industries; Dr. Stacy Gelhaus, chair, NPA Board of Directors; Dr. Crystal R. Icenhour, president/director of research, Phthisis Diagnostics; Dr. K. T. Moortgat, partner, MDV-Mohr Davidow Ventures; Dr. Asha Nayak, senior principal scientist, Medtronic; and, Johnson Phillips.

About the Award Recipients

Stephen Turner
Dr. Stephen Turner founded Pacific Biosciences (formerly Nanofluidics) and secured its Series A funding in 2004. Pacific Biosciences recently was named the top venture-funded company in the United States (The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2010). Dr. Turner was awarded a PhD in physics by Cornell University, where he worked with Prof. Harold Craighead to study the behavior of biomolecules in nano-fabricated structures. His work contributed to the establishment of the Nanobiotechnology Center at Cornell. He was a member of the project team at Cornell which developed the technology now employed by Pacific Biosciences, and was coauthor of the cover story in Science magazine (January 31, 2003) that introduced the technology to the scientific community.

He is the author of over 30 scientific papers in various fields, and is listed as the inventor on nine U.S. patents and more than 20 published patent applications.

Dr. Turner was recipient of the MIT Technology Review "TR100" Award in 2003 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Distinguished Young Alumnus Award in 2008. He is a sitting member of the National Institutes of Health grant review study section on new technologies. He oversees the scientific and technical direction of Pacific Biosciences and is a member of its Board of Directors.

Antonio Webb
Dr. Antonio Webb is a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University and co-founder of VesselTek Biomedical, an Evanston, Illinois-based vascular products company. He earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Colorado School of Mines and his master's and PhD in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University. As part of his graduate work, Dr. Webb developed a novel family of biodegradable elastomers for soft tissue engineering that have become the basis for VesselTek's products. 

After graduating, Dr. Webb, along with his graduate advisor Dr. Guillermo Ameer and vascular surgeon Dr. Melina Kibbe, formed VesselTek Biomedical in March 2008. The company has identified a polymer and FDA approved off-patent drug that have beneficial effects on blood vessels. VesselTek is currently developing that technology into a series of products. 

Dr. Webb has served as principal investigator on National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health small business innovation research grants and is currently working to develop controlled drug eluting vascular grafts and perivascular wraps to prevent neointimal hyperplasia and thrombosis associated with vascular injury.

About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people's eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. It also works to prepare students to be innovators, entrepreneurs and skilled workers in the 21st century economy through initiatives designed to improve learning in math, engineering, science and technology. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit, and follow @kauffmanfdn on Twitter.

About the NPA
Founded in 2003, the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit national organization of postdoctoral scientists, postdoctoral administrators, research universities, professional societies, and other supporters dedicated toward improving the postdoctoral experience. The NPA is a member-driven organization, with the work largely done through standing committees. Since its founding, the NPA has assumed a leadership role in addressing issues confronting the postdoctoral community that are national in scope, requiring action beyond the local level. Key alliances are being forged at all levels, and new standards and policies proposed by NPA are being considered and adopted by federal agencies and research institutions through the United States. For more information on the NPA, visit

Editors' Note: Photographs are available; please contact Cathee Johnson Phillips.

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