Marc Malandro arrived at Pitt 13 years ago from California eager to recapture the thrill of launching promising university research from the lab and into the world where it can have an impact on people’s lives. Having helped usher in a new way of thinking about innovation and commercialization at the University, he is now heading back to California to become part of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic organization founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg. Marc was recruited to be the Vice President of Operations for CZI Science.
Malandro, who earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and molecular Biology from the University of Florida, co-founded Sagres Discovery, a systems biology company located in California to be near its investors. When Sagres was acquired in 2004, Malandro jumped at the opportunity to join Pitt’s then Office of Technology Management (OTM), where he would work with the same drive to advance innovations emanating from Pitt’s labs towards commercialization. His experience on both sides of the table negotiating licenses for university technology served him well, and before long he ascended to director of the OTM.
The University united the OTM with the Office of Enterprise Development and the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence under one roof as the Pitt Innovation Institute in 2013 to create a university-wide hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Malandro led the development and execution of the plans for the Innovation Institute and was chosen as its Founding Director and Vice Chancellor for Technology Management and Commercialization.
Benefitting from the enhanced strategic emphasis around achieving impact through innovation since the arrival of Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, the Innovation Institute under Malandro’s leadership has expanded programming and resources available to Pitt faculty and staff interested in exploring the commercial potential of their innovations. Malandro also never forgot the University’s educational mission, ensuring that hands-on entrepreneurship education for Pitt students became a core component of the Institute’s activities.
Over the past three years the University has set and re-broke records in invention disclosures filed, patents issued and startups formed. Under Dr. Malandro’s leadership, the University has filed over 1,150 new US patent applications, been granted 613 US issued patents, entered into over 1,220 license agreements and formed more than 91 companies based on University technologies since 2005.
It also established an Innovation & Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community for incoming students and created the University’s own student business accelerator, the Blast Furnace, which in two years has served over 80 student teams and produced 26 student-led startup companies.
The Innovation Institute has also worked to build numerous collaborations with industry, investors and nonprofit economic development agencies to grow the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem on the Pitt campus and beyond. The most recent example is the multifaceted partnership with sleep and respiratory care division of global healthcare and electronics giant Philips.
The momentum behind innovation and entrepreneurship at Pitt is being recognized, as Pitt was ranked in the top 25 in a worldwide survey of the best universities for technology transfer conducted by the non-profit think tank, the Milken Institute, earlier in 2017. Pitt was also ranked as one of the “Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2016” by the National Academy of Inventors.
Malandro said he was not looking to leave Pitt, but found the offer to be part of another startup focused on his passion for making an impact with science too hard to pass up. So now he’s headed back to California.
Malandro said he will adapt many of the processes and procedures that have spurred the Innovation Institute’s success to his new role at CZI. “The organization is dedicated to fostering data sharing and open collaboration with organizations around the country and around the world to support basic science research and to help develop innovations that will improve people’s lives,” Malandro said. “This has always been my passion.”
“Marc has been an exceptional founding director of the Innovation Institute. Under Marc’s leadership, the Innovation Institute has made tremendous progress in its mission to grow the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across the University,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. “We wish him the best in his new role with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and look forward to the opportunity to explore areas where our institutions can collaborate to solve the world’s most pressing problems.”
Evan Facher has been appointed interim director of the Innovation Institute, effective August 19. Dr. Facher joined the Innovation Institute as director of the former Office of Enterprise Development in 2014. Last year he was named senior director of innovation commercialization, where he leads the intellectual property, licensing and new company creation functions. Facher has extensive executive management experience in biotech and medical device startups, as well as Fortune 500 companies. He was President/CEO of SironRX Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing novel drug therapies. Prior to this he was general manager of Bayer Healthcare’s Pittsburgh based cardiovascular interventional medical device operations. At Bayer he also served as executive director of corporate development, overseeing company strategy and merger and acquisitions activity for its Radiology and Interventional division.
Facher holds a Ph.D. in human genetics from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from Case Western Reserve University.
“Dr. Malandro has built an experienced and talented team. I am confident that the Innovation Institute staff will continue to serve the needs of our Pitt faculty and students with the same level of dedication and professionalism during this transition period for the organization,” said Rob Rutenbar, who joined Pitt in July as Senior Vice Chancellor for Research, which includes the Innovation Institute within his purview.