Catalysts for Innovation

Implementing a forward-thinking strategy that includes scientific discovery, facility expansion and talent recruitment takes experienced leaders who are willing to collaborate, innovate and translate. The IBRI has added four such leaders to its team.

Experienced drug hunters and entrepreneurial leaders return to Indianapolis

Mark Kowala, PhD and Mary Mader, PhD

Mary Mader, PhD and Mark Kowala, PhD

Mary Mader, PhD, joined the IBRI as the new vice president of molecular innovation. Mader is using her more than 20 years of experience as a drug hunter at Eli Lilly and Company and Relay Therapeutics to build the IBRI’s molecular discovery pipeline, leverage the Institute’s new chemistry labs that will be completed by the end of 2022 and integrate its modern technologies for drug discovery.

Mark Kowala, PhD, who has 30 years of experience as a scientist and leader of pharmaceutical drug discovery at Eli Lilly and Company, Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb, took on the new role of vice president of translational medicine. In this role he is working to expand disease research synergies with regional and national investigators and helping to build new therapeutic programs to advance toward clinical testing.

Together, Mader and Kowala will establish new collaborations, explore the intersection of lab-based and computer-based approaches to pursue new drug discovery programs, and promote the growth of biotechnology in Central Indiana.

Intrepid beta cell protector seeks to halt diabetes progression

Erica Cai, PhD

Erica Cai, PhD

Erica Cai, PhD, is a beta cell biologist and CRISPR expert who focuses on beta cell protection and type 1 diabetes prevention. She says many scientists view beta cells as fragile because they can’t fight off immune system attacks, but she sees them as strong because of their ability to control insulin for the entire body and wants to help make them stronger.

Assistant Investigator Cai, joined the IBRI in the first half of 2021, has watched as her dad struggled to live with diabetes and has made it her goal to better understand type 1 diabetes to improve patients’ quality of life by helping stop the disease’s progression.

Experienced development professional enhances collaboration

Jodie Van Kley

Jodie Van Kley

Jodie Van Kley, vice president of development and advancement, arrived at the IBRI following an extensive career at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, where she served in numerous commercial leadership roles including, sales, market access and integrated health network strategy.

At the IBRI, she is cultivating relationships with major donors, expanding business agreements and managing all aspects of the Institute’s fundraising programs.

She partners with academia, industry and biosciences entrepreneurs to grow the IBRI and support the delivery of translational science for patients suffering from the world’s most debilitating diseases.

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