INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Oct. 10, 2017 — BioCrossroads Board of Directors named Marion County Public Health Department Director Virginia A. Caine, M.D., the 2017 recipient of the August M. Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year Award, a prestigious honor named in tribute to BioCrossroads’ late Chairman August Watanabe, at today’s Indiana Life Sciences Summit.
BioCrossroads presents the Watanabe Award annually to an individual or organization that has made or enabled unique achievements in the development of Indiana’s life sciences and healthcare research, clinical, educational or economic advancement.
Dr. Caine is an ardent voice for public health and access to medical care for the disadvantaged. She sits at many tables — at the local, state and national levels to advocate and encourage policy that will better healthcare, including serving on committees for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2004, she served as president of the American Public Health Association, the nation’s oldest and largest public health organization.
In addition to her role as director of the Marion County Public Health Department, Dr. Caine is also an Associate Professor of Medicine for the Infectious Disease division of the Indiana University School of Medicine.
“Dr. Caine is a convener and a catalyst and a center of constructive activity. Leading by example and advocacy, she has been driving to build a better, fairer and more inclusive healthcare sector and policies for our region over the entire time that BioCrossroads has been seeking to do the same — pushing our state, our industry and our providers to do more to improve healthcare for our citizens,” said David. L. Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads. “Her outreach and influence have ripple effects and are felt not only in Indiana, but in her work at the national level.”
Dr. Caine’s vision and energy is focused on making Marion County one of the healthiest communities in the country, with significant attention to underserved populations. She established the first countywide HIV/AIDS integrated health care delivery system involving major hospitals, community health centers, and social service agencies; and the first HIV dental clinic. As co-director of the Indianapolis Healthy Babies Initiative, Dr. Caine worked with community leaders to reduce a record level black infant mortality rate to its lowest level ever in the history of the city.
Among her numerous leadership positions in the community, Dr. Caine has served on the Fairbanks Institute (Life Sciences) Board of Directors, the Indiana State Department of Health women’s advisory committee, the national advisory committee for the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, co-chair of Jump IN for Healthy Kids, chair of the MESH Coalition, member of the Indiana Health Information Exchange, Inc. Board of Directors, and chair of the Indiana University School of Medicine Simon Cancer Center Health Disparities Advisory Committee. Nationally, she serves on the National Biodefense Science Board, and CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Editorial Board.
“A challenge of any community is to understand how population health is tied very closely to its current and future success,” said Dr. Caine. “By researching the issues and offering programs that meet public health needs, we strive to have a positive impact and help our residents achieve a better quality of life. I am humbled by this honor and appreciate the tremendous community support of our public health efforts in Marion County.”
Dr. Caine joins an impressive list of previous Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year award winners, including:
- Leonard Betley, retired Chairman, President and CEO of Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation;
- Richard DiMarch, Standiford H. Cox Professor of Chemistry and the Linda & Jack Gill Chair in Biomolecular Sciences at Indiana University. Co-founder of Ambrx, Inc., Marcadia Biotech, Calibrium and MB2.
- Dane A. Miller, founder of BioMet
- Bill Cook, founder of Cook Group
- Lilly Endowment under the leadership of Chairman Thomas Lofton
- Phillip Low, Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Purdue Center for Drug Discovery—Biochemistry, co-founder of Endocyte and On Target Laboratories.
- Bill Eason, founder of Bio-Dynamics, predecessor to Roche Diagnostics
- John Lechleiter, Chairman, President and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company
- John Swisher, Founder, JBS United
BioCrossroads (www.biocrossroads.com) is Indiana’s initiative to grow, advance and invest in the life sciences, a public-private collaboration that supports the region’s existing research and corporate strengths while encouraging new business development. BioCrossroads provides money and support to life sciences businesses, launches new life sciences enterprises (Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, Indiana Health Information Exchange, Fairbanks Institute for Healthy Communities, BioCrossroadsLINX, OrthoWorx and Datalys Center), expands collaboration and partnerships among Indiana’s life science institutions, promotes science education and markets Indiana’s life sciences industry.