Title: Senior Director of Business Development, Scripps Florida.
Responsibilities: Capturing value from Scripps Florida programs. On the one hand, Policastro works with scientists, especially those in Scripps Florida's Translational Research Institute, to give feedback and guidance on how to position research programs to be commercially attractive. On the other hand, he sets up collaborations, partnerships, and licensing agreements with companies—from "Big Pharma" to small start-up operations—interested in Scripps Florida technology.
"What we are doing at Scripps Florida fills a unique area in the drug development process. There can be a no man's land between the basic science in the laboratory and the commercialization of products addressing unmet medical needs. We are looking for ways to fill this gap by taking early-stage preclinical compounds and developing them to the point industry is interested in taking them over, usually when they're ready to enter human clinical trials."
Started at Scripps Research: Beginning of September, filling a new position.
Initial Goal: Evaluating what Scripps Florida has to offer in relation to what the market wants. "We've got a lot going for us. The depth of science at Scripps is impressive—there are so many great ideas, it will be a matter of picking and choosing which to focus on. In addition, the initiative is timely—Big Pharma is increasingly looking outside of its own labs to bring new products online."
Background: Policastro's degrees include an A.B. in chemistry from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He became a staff scientist, then program manager, with General Electric, before assuming a variety of leadership and entrepreneurial positions in biotech: president of Octanova Laboratories; CEO and founder of Medgenesis; senior vice president and chief technology officer of Plastics Manufacturing Company; president and CEO of Enchira Biotechnology, Inc.; president and CEO of Rejuvenon Corporation; entrepreneur in residence with BCM Technologies, Inc.
"I spent the last seven or eight years heading biotech companies, so I think a lot like our customer base. I can ask myself, 'If I were a CEO looking to bring on compounds what would I like to see?'"
What Attracted Him to the Job: "I like working with bright, creative people and pushing forward to discover new things. I get a great deal of satisfaction helping good ideas see the light of day, especially when they ultimately enhance human health. This position offers the opportunity to be close to great science, while being part of Scripps Florida's groundbreaking venture."
First Impressions: "I'm loving it! I've really enjoyed the people I've met and I like the Scripps culture of open discussion—people say what they think and respect others' opinions, which is essential for making good, informed decisions."
Extracurriculars: Sailing, especially on his classic New England cutter "Spirit." Also, music. "I'm a closet guitarist. I have way too many guitars relative to my skill level."
Contact Information: Policastro can be reached at (561) 799-8774 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu