Soderstrom, longtime director of OCR, honored for 25 years of leadership

During his tenure, the office that helps translate Yale research into societally beneficial products and services has launched over 75 startups in New Haven.
Jon Soderstrom
Jon Soderstrom

Jon Soderstrom, who has led Yale University’s Office of Cooperative Research (OCR) since 1996, will step down as managing director on June 30. Serving as both an incubator for Yale innovators and a driver of regional economic development, OCR’s main charge is to assist in translating Yale research into societally beneficial products and services.

Soderstrom will move into a new position as strategic advisor for technology transfer and commercialization in the Office of the Provost. In this role, Soderstrom will advise Yale Provost Scott Strobel from his reservoir of expertise in these areas.

Jon has helped launch a remarkable number of successful ventures and nurtured the growth of Yale’s technology transfer capabilities,” said Vice Provost for Research Michael Crair, who made the announcement on behalf of the Office of the Provost. “Under Jon’s direction, since 2000 more than 75 startups with over $2 billion in venture capital and another $7 billion in public equity financing based on Yale intellectual property have taken root in New Haven.”

Associate Provost for Research Lisa D’Angelo will step in as interim managing director of OCR until a permanent replacement is selected.

The significant portfolio of inventions and patents executed by OCR has grown into an engine of regional economic development,” D’Angelo said. “The office’s mission to facilitate the translation of research from Yale’s labs into products and services that benefit society is most certainly a pursuit I am excited to be a part of.”

Among its many accomplishments, OCR notably helped grow the number of Yale pharmaceutical products, a collection of drug candidates currently in development and managed by the university. Under Soderstrom’s leadership, OCR has cultivated a pipeline that now includes more than 50 different products.

As you all know, the process to take an invention from lab discovery to startup through product development and, ultimately, to market is a long and complex one, and I’m blessed to have seen many of you successfully engage in this arduous cycle during my time at OCR,” Soderstrom said.

One of Connecticut’s thriving pharmaceutical companies, Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, which is a Yale spinoff organization, benefited from Soderstrom and OCR’s partnership, with two drugs in the pipeline.

We will miss Jon’s leadership of Yale OCR immensely, and we are all indebted to him for translating Yale science into so many startup and pharmaceutical companies over the years that continue to benefit patients,” said Biohaven Chief Executive Officer Vlad Coric. “I am grateful to Jon for helping us start Biohaven, and for the inspiration he has given us over the years. His vision has created a robust local biotech sector that will continue grow, and his impact in this area will be felt for many years to come.”

It is wonderful to know that ventures like Biohaven, and so many others, will continue to contribute toward Yale’s pharmaceutical pipeline as our primary goal is optimal impact on human health and wellbeing,” Soderstrom said. “That is what has been most gratifying for me during my time at Yale OCR.”

New Haven has become a biotech hub in its own right. Just this month, Yale announced its position as the anchor tenant at 101 College Street in New Haven, a key project in the city’s effort to become a national center for the life sciences industry.

Milestones like the groundbreaking at 101 College Street represent the hard work of the Yale OCR team, and everyone at Yale who is steadfastly dedicated to innovation, and I am grateful to be a part of that,” Soderstrom said. “Over these last 25 years, I have witnessed ideas transform into successful companies, watched scientists become entrepreneurs, and seen passions become tangible impact. The work we do is important, it requires perseverance, and it truly takes a village to accomplish. I will forever be grateful to have been part of that village.”

Dawn Hocevar, president and CEO of BioCT, an organization devoted to growing the vibrant bioscience ecosystem, has worked with Yale OCR for many years.

Jon’s efforts over the last 20-plus years have been instrumental in New Haven becoming the growing biotech cluster that it is today,” said Hocevar. “I am excited to know that he will continue to strategize on additional ways Yale can play a tremendous role in building our New Haven cluster. BioCT is always here to support those goals.”

Added Crair: “OCR is a productive, well-recognized, and broadly admired university technology transfer office due in large part to Jon’s efforts over the last 25 years, and as such, I am confident the team will continue to thrive under Lisa’s interim leadership.”

A national search is currently underway for candidates to lead Yale’s efforts in entrepreneurship, innovation, and commercialization.

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