Eaton resigns as president of MdBio trade group

March 23, 2007|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,Sun reporter

After a decade of working to advance Maryland's biotechnology industry, C. Robert "Bob" Eaton has resigned his post as president of MdBio, a trade organization representing the state's 370 biotech businesses.

Julie Coons, chief executive officer of the Tech Council of Maryland, which merged with MdBio a year ago, will lead the biotech organization on an interim basis until a replacement can be found. MdBio plans to conduct a nationwide search.

Eaton gave his resignation, effective March 31, at a board meeting Wednesday night, "to pursue other opportunities" in the private sector.

"The Maryland bioscience community is poised to really advance in the next couple of years because we have more and more companies that are bringing in significant amounts of dollars," Eaton said in an interview yesterday.

"It used to be $2 [million] and $3 million a few years ago, and now they're bringing in $20 [million] and $30 [million] and $50 million or more through late-stage clinical trials, and partnerships with other companies," Eaton said. "The strength of the industry is really beginning to show."

During his tenure, Maryland's biotech business more than doubled, growing 67 percent in the past eight years. Many of the companies are clustered along Montgomery County's Interstate 270 corridor.

Today, biotech is among Maryland's favored industries, touted by leaders as an economic driver and business of the future, with two separate biotechnology-focused business parks under development in Baltimore.

Eaton's work was "instrumental" in MdBio's growth, Chairman Edward M. Rudnic said in a statement.

Eaton joined MdBio, a private, not-for-profit organization, in 1997 as its executive director after having served as program director for the Tech Council of Maryland and director of the Maryland Bioscience Alliance, a trade group within the Tech Council. Before that, he worked for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, now known as PhRMA, and held laboratory or sales positions at several pharmaceutical companies and the National Institutes of Health.

"Through Bob's creativity and leadership, MdBio has been a significant contributor to the growth of Maryland's bioscience industry and also planted the seeds for future generations of industry employees," Jim Leslie, board chairman of the MdBio Foundation, said in a statement. The foundation is a separate nonprofit linked to MdBio.

MdBio was founded in 1991 under the name Maryland Bioprocessing Center Inc. with the mission of constructing a biomanufacturing facility to support the state's developing biotech industry. The facility was eventually sold to a biotech company and the proceeds used to support the nonprofit group, operating as MdBio since summer 1997. The organization offers financial and business support, along with education and work force development programs, to Maryland companies.

In February 2006, MdBio announced a merger with the Tech Council meant to unify the state's technology community. Before then, some biotech businesses were council members and others MdBio members, putting the two organizations in near-competitive positions.

Some have speculated that the merger and a loss of autonomy led to Eaton's resignation. Eaton declined to comment.

Coons, Eaton's interim successor, is a member of MdBio's board of directors. She joined the Tech Council in 2004 after having worked in the wireless telecommunications industry and as a lobbyist and government services worker in the financial and international trade fields.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.