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Media Contacts

George Telthorst
Center for the Business of Life Sciences

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Anne Auer
Kelley School of Business

Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2010

Planners of upcoming life sciences conference taking a more theatrical approach to the topic

Jan. 28, 2010

EDITORS: A complete program schedule and links to the participants' biographies are available online at Media interested in attending need to contact George Vlahakis of University Communications at 812-855-0846 or or Kelli Conder of CBLS at 812-856-0915 or

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Shakespeare may have written, "The play's the thing," but chances are that the playwright never thought his sentiments could be applied to the life sciences.

Life Sciences Collaboration

Marcus Chandler, Matt Rubin and Todd Vare step out of their usual roles as attorneys and tech transfer consultants in this production for the upcoming Indiana Life Sciences Collaboration Conferences Series seminar.

Unlike Hamlet, planners of the next event in the Indiana Life Sciences Collaboration Conferences Series aren't hoping to "catch the conscience of the king." But they do hope that their three-act drama and related discussions will help critical players in the industry to collaborate better.

For the last four years, the Center for the Business of Life Sciences at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business has organized a well-received seminar series that has brought together professionals from the research, business and legal communities. George Telthorst, the new director of the center, said organizers thought it was time for a different approach than the standard series of panel discussions.

A script was written. Actors rehearsed. The resulting production was filmed and will be screened at the conference, "Effective Collaboration: A Study in Three Acts," on Friday, Feb. 26 at the offices of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, 11 S. Meridian St. in Indianapolis.

"We thought we could do the standard panel, but those have been done a lot, so we thought why don't we do something involving role-playing?," said Telthorst, previously an executive at Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson and Baxter Healthcare. "We wanted to get the experience of people who've been there, lived it and can share the lessons learned."

"The role-playing reflects real-world situations routinely experienced by our clients in trying to commercialize their inventions," added Todd G. Vare, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg and the script writer. "We thought that this unique presentation style would be a dynamic way of educating attendees on the various challenges involved."

The three acts follow a university professor as he works with tech transfer and venture capitalists to commercialize his research, a company trying to get to the next level when capital funding starts drying up and a "fictional pharmaceutical company" that enters into an agreement to outsource part of its development efforts.

In most cases, the actors are people who are basing their performances on real-life experiences. After each act, moderators will lead an audience Q-and-A discussion about what they have just seen, followed by a brief presentation from individuals telling their related first-hand experiences.

George Telthorst

George Telthorst

Print-Quality Photo

For example, "The third act looks at the folks at a hypothetical big pharmaceutical company who are trying to figure out better ways to use their resources while still taking care of their people, and the discussions with a large contract organization and how they can set up a partnership to make it work," Telthorst explained.

It is based on Eli Lilly and Co.'s recent decision to enter into an agreement to sell its Greenfield, Ind.-based testing labs to Covance Inc. while retaining access to the labs' capabilities.

"In that act, the players are actually the three principals at Lilly who were involved in those discussions," Telthorst said. "These are people who have lived this and who are stepping out of their comfort zones to share their experience."

Afterwards, the voices of experience supplementing the performance will be the two people leading the transition at Greenfield: Jonathon Koch, vice president and general manager at Greenfield Laboratories, Covance; and Dr. Adrienne Takacs, senior advisor-outsourcing at Eli Lilly Research Laboratories Operations.

Participants supporting other acts will be Wade Lange, president and chief executive officer of Immuneworks; Rebecca Lyon, a technology transfer consultant at the IU Research and Technology Corp.; Joe Huffine, CEO of Kingsley Rose LLC; and Raul Zavaleta, principal at Volatus Advisors LLC.

Following the third act, Bart Peterson, senior vice president for corporate affairs and communications at Eli Lilly and Co. and former mayor of Indianapolis, will speak at lunch on the topic, "Healthcare Reform: The Catalyst for New Thinking."

The closing session will be a panel discussion focusing on global partnerships. It will feature Steve Akard, director of international development at the Indiana Economic Development Corp.; Don Kraft, senior vice president of human resources at Covance; David Thompson, chief alliance officer at Eli Lilly and Co.; and Marcus Chandler, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg.

"We want to engage our audience in a different way," Telthorst concluded. "This is an experiment. This may go well, and we'll do more of these, or this may get the 'raspberries' . . . We're trying a different way to transfer learning. In either case, we'll learn from it. "

"Nonetheless, we've established that we are a dependable forum for people who want to get together who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to make new out-of-box connections that advance their businesses."

Registration for the conference is available online at or by contacting Roxie Glaze at the Kelley School at 812-855-9210 or The registration fee is $70. Indiana college students may qualify to attend at no charge (see registration site for details).

This conference is sponsored by AIT Laboratories, Baker & Daniels LLP, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Beckman Coulter, Inc., Cabello Associates, Inc., Clarian Health Ventures, Inc., Commissioning Agents, Inc., Cook Medical, Covidien Imagining Solutions, DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, Ice Miller LLP, Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, IU Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, IU School of Medicine, Paragon Medical, Inc., Purdue University, Symmetry Medical, Inc., Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, University of Notre Dame, and Zimmer.

This is the 15th in a series that began in the fall of 2006. The next event in the series will be the conference "Information Technology and Personalized Medicine" on May 14 at the Clarian Education and Resource Center in Indianapolis.