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Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., left, with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam following the presentation of the first Governorís Award for Innovation Excellence. (Photo courtesy Tennessee Technology Development Corporation)

Conn receives first Governorís Award for Innovation

BY: BILL SNYDER

5/03/2012 - Vanderbilt University’s Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., has won the first Governor’s Award for Innovation Excellence for his efforts to accelerate the discovery of new drugs for Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and other brain disorders.

Conn, who directs the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (VCNDD), received the award last week from Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam during the inaugural Governor’s Innovation Conference at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel.

The award recognizes Tennesseans “whose dedication to enhancing our world through innovation has made a major impact on society.”

Michael Goldfarb, Ph.D., the H. Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt, was among three finalists for the award for his development of a bionic leg.

“I am extremely honored to receive this award … (which) acknowledges the tremendous efforts and talent of the entire leadership team of the VCNDD,” said Conn, the Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology.

“I am especially pleased that the governor is making innovation such a high priority,” Conn added. “… This award (is) a strong sign of the state’s commitment to fostering economic growth through innovation.”

“It means everything to have a governor who clearly appreciates the huge opportunity for economic development when entrepreneurial spirit is combined with scientific discovery,” added Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who spoke at the conference.

The conference was hosted by the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, a non‐profit organization that seeks to increase statewide science and technology business development, and by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Alan Bentley, assistant vice chancellor for Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development, and David Owens, Ph.D., professor of the Practice and Management of Innovation at the Owen Graduate School of Management, moderated panel discussions during meeting.

For more information, go to www.tntechnology.org/conference.

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