Press-Republican

October 6, 2012

New director named at Trudeau Institute

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — SARANAC LAKE — Trudeau Institute has appointed a new president, capping a change in funding streams and direction at the 128-year-old research institute. 

Dr. Ronald H. Goldfarb took the helm this week as Trudeau’s sixth president, director and CEO, according to Board of Trustees Chairman Benjamin Brewster.

A scientist, Goldfarb has conducted and managed cancer research for 30 years, having served at the Institute for Cancer Research at the University of North Texas, as deputy director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and in managing cancer-drug discovery programs for Pfizer Inc.

FOUNDED COMPANY

Then, in 2002, Goldfarb co-founded Sopherion Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company based in Princeton, N.J.

There, his work developed, tested and successfully brought to market the drug Myocet, a medicine used to treat metastatic breast cancer.

In an interview with the Press-Republican, Goldfarb said that project is nearing a transition.

He has generated $140 million in resources for the company in the past decade. The medicine is in use in Europe and Canada. And Sopherion is finishing a final confirmatory trial before the drug reaches the market here.

And with delivery near, he and co-founder Dr. Salvatore Forenza opted to put Sopherion on the market. 

“We believe, at this time, it’s appropriate to sell our rights to the drug,” Goldfarb said.

“That would allow the most resources to develop it. We think it has utility to treat a dozen other cancers, and we’ve hired a banker to sell the asset.

“Meanwhile, I was considering other opportunities and was delighted to find the position at Trudeau.”

WOODLAND DEPARTURE

That the new president has detailed experience bringing research to market as a medical product is no coincidence to the future of Trudeau.

Long-term strategic planning done there in recent years led some administrators to consider options to relocate or build a sister site with access to hospital facilities for clinical trials on human patients.

The prospect proved transient, even as the new $10 million Stafford Wing came online in 2010.

Brewster and Trudeau trustees affirmed their intent to stay in Saranac Lake in early 2011, and in July of that year, former Trudeau Director Dr. David Woodland left for a research post in Colorado.

The institute began searching for a new director.

STABILIZE FINANCES

Goldfarb said the connection between biotechnology and business is key to how he views Trudeau’s future.

“Our current business plan is to stabilize and then expand financial structures at Trudeau,” he said.

Recombined business and biotechnology research would stabilize the revenue base to include pharmaceutical resources, donors and philanthropists’ funding and then reposition the institute as a hub inside a larger bio-technology cluster.

PARTNERSHIPS EYED

“We’re like a pair of glasses that allows us to look at the entire picture to see how immune response fits in different diseases without harming normal cells,” Goldfarb said.

That scientific strength presents options to build strategic partnerships with universities in the North Country and beyond, he said.

“I would certainly look forward to Trudeau taking a biotechnology leadership role in the North Country. A couple years from now, when we’re in excellent financial shape, we could begin exploring how Trudeau could use its research efforts to spin out — or work with others to spin out — for-profit companies.”

SETTLING IN

Goldfarb and his wife, Ellen, have already made Saranac Lake their home.

“We moved into faculty housing on the campus,” he said. “Until I get to know the area better, I thought to start out there,” he said.

They have two grown children.  

“Our daughter, Amy, has a couple master’s degrees and teaches art at the City University of New York. Our son, Andrew, is associate editor of news and features for IGN Entertainment in the San Francisco area.”

The prescience of what Trudeau is poised to accomplish seems promising to Goldfarb. 

“I voted with my feet. And I’m glad to have the opportunity at Trudeau,” he said.

NEW FUNDING

The National Institutes of Health has awarded several new streams of funding, including a $9 million grant in June, to further research age-related decline in immune function.

Brewster said Goldfarb’s success in biotech research and delivery aligns with the institute’s future. The trustees’ decision to hire him was unanimous.

“We believe his talents and experience match the institute’s long, distinguished history. In addition to working closely with our faculty members, Ron will focus on revenue diversification strategies to ensure Trudeau’s successful transition into a new era,” Brewster said in a statement.

A nonprofit research center, Trudeau was founded in Saranac Lake in 1884 by Dr. E.L. Trudeau, who searched for the cause of and a cure for tuberculosis.

The institute still studies TB, along with many other immunological response mechanisms.

Email Kim Smith Dedam: kdedam@pressrepublican