Life Sciences Discovery Fund Gets New Leader, A Familiar Face

Xconomy Seattle — 

The state’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund has a new boss, but he’s not a new face to people familiar with the state-supported biotech fund.

John Des Rosier, who has been the director of programs for the LSDF since 2006, is moving up to be the executive director following Lee Huntsman’s retirement on June 30. While Huntsman had the visible public role in advocating for the quasi-public agency since its founding in 2005, Des Rosier did much of the heavy lifting behind the scenes, explaining the programs to applicants around the state.

Des Rosier has more than 30 years of experience in research and technology commercialization, with a background as a University of Washington microbiologist and experience at a startup, BioControl Systems of Bothell, WA, that introduced four diagnostic tests for detecting dangerous bacteria in food.

John DesRosier

The Life Sciences Discovery Fund was originally pushed for by Gov. Chris Gregoire as a 10-year, $350 million program in which the state would make grants to research groups with potential to make an economic impact. The program, supported through money from the state’s 1998 settlement with tobacco companies, never really got that big, as it got caught in a series of state budget cuts over the past several years. But Des Rosier says the LSDF still expects to make about $11.7 million in grants over the next two years, spread among about 20 different research groups.

“We have some good changes in store,” Des Rosier says, adding that the changes need to be discussed by the LSDF board at its next meeting on July 23.