Virginia Bio Announces Recipients of its 2024 Outstanding Contributions to Bioscience Award

Every two years, the Virginia Biotechnology Association recognizes individual Virginians for their significant contributions to bioscience and the Virginia biotechnology ecosystem.  On May 17, Jeff Conroy, former CEO of Embody, Inc., and Jim Powers, former CEO of HemoShear were presented with the Outstanding Contributions to Bioscience Award at Virginia Bio’s THRiVE 2024 statewide conference in Alexandria, Virginia.

Jeff Conroy is the co-founder and former CEO of Embody, a medical device company that developed collagen-based implants for tendon and ligament repair of rotator cuff, Achilles and anterior cruciate ligament injury.  Embody was acquired by Zimmer Biomet in January 2023 for $155 million with $120 million in future milestone payments.  Among other innovations, Embody created a new standard of care for soft tissue injuries with its collagen internal brace for ACL repair. Jeff was the Chairman of the Virginia Bio Board of Directors from 2014 to 2017. Prior to Embody Jeff held several corporate leadership positions, including as the Head-Corporate Development at Específicos Stendhal S.A. de C.V. from 2012 to 2019, and as an independent director on the Board of NASDAQ-traded Cingulate Therapeutics. Jeff currently serves as the CEO of Operator Relief Fund, a not-for-profit whose mission is to bring best-in-class wellness treatment and services to shadow warriors struggling with post-traumatic stress.

Jeff attributes much of his success to his involvement with Virginia Bio and Virginia’s supportive biotechnology ecosystem. “The people involved in the Virginia biotechnology community, the friends I’ve made in the ten years I was on the board, and as the Chairman, played a really critical role in my journey, my individual development, my friendships, and my business success,” Jeff said in his acceptance speech. He also offered some advice for newer Virginia startups: “Being a part of this community, and understanding the resources we have in the catalyst, and the people sitting next to you at [the Virginia Bio] meetings, this is an excellent community, just stick with it.”

Jim Powers served as HemoShear’s chairman and CEO, until retiring in 2022. Jim has over 30 years’ experience launching and building life science companies, evolving their business strategies, leveraging platform technologies and recruiting outstanding teams. Jim led the transformation of HemoShear from a human disease modeling, platform-based, R&D services company to a drug discovery and development company with a multi-disease, multi-product pipeline of rare disease programs in areas of high unmet need. Prior to HemoShear, Jim was Executive Vice President of PRA Health Sciences, where he played a major role in growing PRA into one of the top five global clinical research organizations.  Jim was a member of the executive team that took PRA public in 2004. In addition to his role as Chairman of HemoShear’s Board, Jim served on several boards, including Virginia Bio’s, and currently serves as Chairman of the Virginia Bioscience Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that promotes interest among K-12 students in bioSTEM studies and careers, with a particular focus on minority and disadvantaged students.

In his acceptance speech, Jim expressed humility for his recognition by Virginia Bio: “I appreciate the recognition, it’s very humbling, [but] we don’t do this for recognition. We’re trying to make an impact on improving human health and trying to help colleagues advance their businesses in a very difficult area of life sciences.” Jim was selected for this honor due to his steadfast commitment to help others advance and prosper in the Virginia biotechnology industry. “[Even] when I was starting out and had little time to get involved, I dedicated time to be involved and help other entrepreneurs in the ecosystem succeed.”

The Virginia Bio Outstanding Contributions to Bioscience Award was established in 2013 to recognize individuals, companies, organizations, events, discoveries or collaborations in the biosciences exemplifying the excellence, variety and dynamism of the Virginia biosciences community. This year’s recipients have given an unprecedented contribution to establishing the Commonwealth as one of the top national bioscience regions. Past awardees include 1994 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Alfred Gilman, regenerative medicine company Revivicor, serial biotech entrepreneur Dr. Timothy Macdonald, and others.

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