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Virginia’s Bioscience Leaders Mourn Loss of Mark Licata

Wednesday, May 21, 2014  
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The Commonwealth’s bioscience industry lost a dear friend and colleague this week. Mark Licata, vice president of industrialization at kaléo, a long time member of Virginia Bio and one of the earliest tenants of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park, suffered a heart attack while on a business trip in Germany. He did not recover.


Mr. Licata, a biomedical engineer, devoted his career to developing and perfecting life-saving biomedical devices, first with Bayer USA and then with companies such as Medtronic Neurosurgical, O.R. Solutions and Hemodyne before starting his own biomedical products consulting company, BioTrack LLC, at the Biotech Park in 1992. During these busy years, Mr. Licata always found time to help other Park tenants with their business plans, usually without compensation, as well as to volunteer significant time on behalf of the Virginia Biotechnology Association.


“Mark was always the first to volunteer on just about any project,” said Mark Herzog, currently a member of the kaléo executive team and the former executive director of Virginia Bio from 2000 to 2012. “He did everything from judging the state science fair, speaking to Members of Congress, to leading an overseas trade mission for our medical device sector. He did anything we asked, and he did it with enthusiasm. He was a dear friend and will be missed terribly.”


In 2004, Mr. Licata joined kaléo (formerly known as Intelliject), first as an unpaid consultant and then as a full time member of the executive team as employee number three, right after the founders, twin brothers Eric and Evan Edwards.


“Mark was really the first person who believed in Evan and me and saw our dream and vision,” said Eric Edwards, Kaleo’s chief medical officer and vice president of research and development in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “He really gave us a healthy dose of self-discipline and made sure we formulated a plan and saw it through. He is going to be severely missed by so many people in Richmond.”


Mr. Licata held more than 25 personal patents and was named as a co-inventor on as many as 130 biomedical patents overall. The Edwards brothers credit him as a co-inventor of the two FDA approved products developed by kaléo. The first, AuviQ, a patient-centric auto injector for epinephrine . The second, the recently FDA approved Evzio a naloxone autoinjectorfor opiod overdose.

The second device, which just received fast-track approval from the Food and Drug Administration in April, is Evzio, an emergency injector that can be used to treat a person who has overdosed on pain medications containing opiates.


“Mark was relentless in his pursuit of the perfect product, developed with patient input, that would be lifesaving when the patient needed it most,” said Spencer Williamson, Kaleo’s chief executive officer, according to the Times-Dispatch.


As a fellow tenant of the Biotech Park, Mark Licata was frequently asked for help and advice by dozens of entrepreneurs trying to launch their bioscience companies in Richmond. One of those companies, Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc., has grown from five founders, and approximately 250 square feet of space to more than 700 employee and a quarter million in just five years time. “When I was writing the business plan for HDL, I was introduced to Mark by Bob Skunda,” said Tonya Mallory, HDL’s co-founder and chief executive officer in the Times-Dispatch. “I was in awe of Mark’s talent, innovative ideas and the success that Intelliject was having. I am convinced that Mark was one of the most gifted individuals in our region.”


Mark Licata leaves behind his wife Lisa, a son Whit, and a daughter McKenzie.

The  family is planning a memorial service later this month.

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