INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- At the eighth annual Indiana Life Sciences Summit today, BioCrossroads recognized the late William A. Cook, the founder of Bloomington-based Cook Group and one of the world's great entrepreneurial success stories, with the August M. Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year award. Cook Group President Kem Hawkins accepted the award as a tribute to his friend and colleague.
Now the largest privately held medical device company in the world, the company began humbly in the Cook's apartment in 1963, crafting catheters, needles and wire guides by hand and connecting directly with physicians for sales. A constant innovator and medical pioneer in the field of minimally invasive medicine, the company grew rapidly, and now has more than 15,000 products on the market in the areas of interventional radiology and peripheral intervention, urology, critical care medicine including antimicrobial-impregnated catheters, gastroenterology, general surgery and many others. With annual sales of approximately $2 billion, Cook Group now employs about 6,500 Hoosiers and total global employment exceeds 10,000.
"With uncommon vision, compassion, and persistence on the part of everyone who has ever worked here, Cook Group has grown into a generous and caring global company. An unrelenting commitment to preserving and protecting the future of our company has guaranteed that the organization will go on to serve our employees, our communities and our patients for many years to come," said Hawkins. "At Cook, the patient always comes first. From the start, this company has been a true pioneer and its innovations have had a dramatic effect that changed the course of medical treatment. We are pleased, and Bill would have been honored, to receive this recognition of our company's achievements named after one of his closest friends and colleagues, Gus Watanabe."
"Bill started from humble beginnings, and then went right on to build major portions of a whole economy," said Dr. Craig Brater, Dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine and Chairman of the Board of BioCrossroads. "He has had an enormous influence for the good in bettering our state's science and math education, improving the health of his community, and advancing the cause of historic preservation. We lost a great man and true friend earlier this year, but Bill's legacy, including his company the Cook Group, will benefit Hoosiers and patients around the world for generations to come."
The Watanabe Award is presented annually to an individual who has made a signature contribution to the growth of the state's life sciences sector through innovation and unparalleled achievement, and who personifies the emerging face of Indiana's life sciences industry.
Also at today's conference, Anne Shane, a longtime community leader and one of the original organizers of the collaboration that ultimately became BioCrossroads, received the first BioCrossroads Catalyst Award. The BioCrossroads Catalyst Award honors an individual who has been an accelerator and activator in Indiana's life sciences industry -- one who has helped to bring the sector together, and further helped to sustain it through targeted, strategic and collaborative energy and efforts.
In February 2012, BioCrossroads will celebrate its tenth anniversary. Shane played a pivotal role in the original organization of the initiative, gathering critical support from leaders across the public and private sectors as well as from academia and the scientific community. Later at BioCrossroads, Shane's efforts focused particularly on developing science and mathematics education programs offering the promise to prepare Indiana's next generation with the skills required to work and advance in some of the state's best and highest paying jobs. In this role, Shane spearheaded the formation of the Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (ISTEM) Resource Network, managed today by Purdue University. Shane helped secure nearly $10 million in funding from the Lilly Endowment, the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, the State of Indiana and other stakeholders to further I-STEM's efforts in training hundreds of teachers and thousands of students across the state.
"Anne's early and insistent vision, along with her strong community ties and superb organizational skills, were what made the difference in moving BioCrossroads from a good idea into a functioning and productive initiative that has gone on to do considerable good work for our community and our state," said David Johnson, BioCrossroads CEO. "From the beginning, Anne saw the potential, and made sure that others saw it and helped to build it too. I can think of no one who has made more of a difference in bringing the right people together for the right reasons, or who has played such a critical role in helping Hoosiers to have better jobs today, and have the chance to be better educated for jobs tomorrow in Indiana's promising life sciences sector," Johnson said.
Shane also organized a collaboration with the University of Notre Dame to bring the National Math and Science Initiative Advanced Placement Strategies program to Indiana to accelerate the number of high school students taking and passing math and science AP courses.
"Working with the extraordinary team of people who remain at BioCrossroads and with the leadership of Gus Watanabe, Indiana has built one of the most credible and effective economic cluster initiatives in the country. I was honored to play a small part in that and accept this award with gratitude," said Shane.
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 research and corporate strengths while encouraging new business development. BioCrossroads provides money and support to life sciences businesses, launches new life sciences enterprises (Indiana Health Information Exchange, Fairbanks Institute for Healthy Communities, BioCrossroadsLINX, Datalys Center and OrthoWorx) expands collaboration and partnerships among Indiana's life science institutions, promotes science education and markets Indiana's life sciences industry.