IAMI's top-notch leadership has more than 200 years of combined pharmaceutical industry experience. Our unique approach to an academic program structure is receiving recognition nationwide.
Scott Weir, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Michael J. Baltezor, Ph.D.
Thomas F. Krol, B.S., Pharm.D., R.Ph., CLP
Fred Meyer, Ph.D., C.F.A.
Melinda Broward, B.S., M.S.
Tyce Bruns, B.S., M.S.
Kevin Schorno, B.A., M.B.A.
Robyn Wood, B.G.S.
Melissa Simpson Rhodes
Director | Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation
Professor | Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics
Associate Director | Translational Research
Program Leader | Drug Discovery and Development
Frank B. Tyler Cancer Research Professor
Scott J. Weir, Pharm.D., Ph.D., is director of the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation (IAMI). IAMI conducts product development focused translational research on products with clear paths to market. He also serves as Associate Director, Translational Research, at the University of Kansas Cancer Center. The main focuses of IAMI are drugs and supporting diagnostics applications in cancer and rare diseases in children, adolescents and adults. Central to the translational research strategy of IAMI is establishing and executing projects through high performance collaborations with industry, academia, government and disease philanthropy organizations. Weir has more than 28 years of professional experience in the field of drug discovery and development, 20 of which were spent in the pharmaceutical industry prior to joining the University of Kansas in 2006. His specific areas of expertise are in clinical pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, biopharmaceutics and developing innovative approaches to lead optimization and early drug development. He has built a reputation of being innovative in bridging the "Valley of Death" through high performance public-private partnerships as well as repurposing approved drugs and rescuing abandoned drugs. In 2012, Weir was appointed by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to serve on the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Advisory Council as well as the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Board.
Deputy Director | IAMI
Director | Biotechnology Innovation & Optimization Center
Michael J. Baltezor, Ph.D., provides drug delivery solutions for drug candidates to improve solubility, absorption and stability as director of the Biotechnology Innovation and Optimization Center (BIO Center) at the University of Kansas. Dr. Baltezor also serves as deputy director of the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation (IAMI) and as the director of the Lead Development and Optimization Shared Service center for the KU Cancer Center. Dr. Baltezor has more than 35 years experience in new product development in the pharmaceutical, medical products and contract services businesses. He spent 10 years with Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, 13 years with Marion Laboratories and successor companies, 7 years with Quintiles and 4 years with Medi-Flex and successor companies. Dr. Baltezor received his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1972 and his doctoral degree in pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry in 1977 from the University of Kansas. In 2005, he received an honorary doctoral degree from Missouri Western State University.
Entrepreneur in Residence | IAMI
Tom Krol is an entrepreneur in residence at IAMI. He is currently chief development officer of Novadiol, Inc., a local biopharma company focused on kidney disease. Prior to that, he was managing director at the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA), where he led human health investment activities. Tom has more than 25 years of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, drug delivery and medical device experience spanning multiple roles in research and development, new product planning and development, technology assessment, strategic planning, marketing, licensing and business development. Before joining the KBA, he led business development activities at Oakwood Laboratories, a drug delivery company based in Cleveland, OH. Before Oakwood, he founded a specialty pharma company, Verenta Pharmaceuticals. Tom led business development for CyDex (now Ligand), a venture backed drug delivery company specialized in solubility technologies. Tom had multiple roles at Pharmacia-Pfizer, Searle, Sanofi-Aventis and predecessor companies, including Marion Laboratories. He has a B.S. in pharmacy from Ferris State University and Pharm.D. from the University of Utah. He completed a residency at the University of Utah and a fellowship in clinical drug development at the University of North Carolina and the Burroughs Wellcome Company (now part of GSK). He is a registered pharmacist and certified licensing professional, as designated by the Licensing Executives Society.
Entrepreneur in Residence | IAMI
Fred Meyer, Ph.D., C.F.A., has worked with IAMI since 2012 in evaluation and support of translational projects and creation of spin-out ventures. Over the past 19 years, he has specialized in strategy, finance and business development within life science industries and co-founded a number of therapeutic biotechnology companies including LipimetiX Development and Artisan Pharmaceuticals. He is currently an eXithera Pharmaceutical's board member and leads business development at Tyrogenex and Xcovery. At Apeiron Partners, he provided strategic advice to early and mid-stage ventures, as well as designed and implemented financings, key technology licenses and partnership deals for clients. He previously performed biotechnology equity research at Needham & Company and business development for the portfolio companies of Schooner Capital. Dr. Meyer received his Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Ohio State University and has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute.
Project Director | IAMI
Melinda Broward, M.S., is a project director for IAMI and supports the Lead Development and Optimization (LDO) core center. Melinda organizes cross-functional teams to ensure researchers, cores, centers, industry partners, regulatory and technology transfer resources collaborate in an integrated and organized fashion to support the creation and advancement of drug projects. Melinda has more than 30 years of experience in early drug discovery and development. This includes 20 years of large pharmaceutical drug development experience at the former Marion Laboratories, Inc., Marion Merrell Dow, Inc. Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc., Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Quintiles, Inc. and Aptuit, Inc. Her areas of focus have been early drug development screening models of absorption, metabolic stability and blood brain barrier. Additional experience includes 3 years in poultry pharmaceutical quality control testing (raw and finished products) at I.D. Russell Inc., 2 years basic research at the Kansas City VA Medical Center and 3 years of toxicology testing at Midwest Research Institute. Her expertise includes preclinical drug safety (toxicology and safety pharmacology), early absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME), high throughput screening and lead optimization. Melinda joined the University of Kansas in 2007 as a project director and assists the High Throughput Screening Laboratory at KU and IAMI in early drug discovery and development.
Project Director | IAMI
Tyce Bruns, M.S., certified Project Management Professional, is a project director in the Office of Project and Portfolio Management for IAMI. Tyce has been with IAMI in the role of a project director since 2009, and has more than 20 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry, working for several companies including Kansas City Analytical Service, AAI Pharma, Quintiles, Aptuit and now IAMI. His experience includes a project management focus in a wide variety of projects from virtual start-ups to large, global organizations. Tyce earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Kansas State University in 1994, a master's degree in business management from Baker University in 1997 and a Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute.
Project Director | IAMI
Kevin Schorno, M.B.A., is a project director in the Office of Project and Portfolio Management for IAMI. Kevin has over 20 years of drug discovery and development experience, and has been with IAMI since 2009. Upon graduating from the University of Kansas with a BA in Environmental Studies in 1995, Mr. Schorno began his carrier with Kansas City Analytical Services where he developed and managed the metrology team. Mr. Schorno transitioned to a position as a senior project associate that focused on developing and maintaining client relations from work order execution to the acceptance of the final data report. In 2002 Mr. Schorno accepted a position with the project management team at Quintiles. During this period of time, Kevin expanded his drug development experience into the clinical phase of the drug development spectrum. In the fall of 2005, Quintiles' early phase division was acquired by Aptuit. This acquisition transitioned the project management division from clinical to discovery and development of clinical drug products. In 2006 Mr. Schorno received an MBA from Baker University and was promoted to a senior project manager position where he was responsible for the development and management of a team of global project managers.
Project Director | IAMI
Robyn Wood, BGS, is a project director in the Office of Project and Portfolio Management for the IAMI. Robyn has been a project director for IAMI since 2009. A Kansas native and KU alum, Wood brings over 30 years of drug development experience in the pharmaceutical industry. She spent 17 years with Interx Research/ Merck labs as a Research Biologist, later moving to Oread Pharmaceuticals and Quintiles. At Quintiles, Robyn was hired as the first project manager to support drug development projects and while there she moved into a senior director position. When Aptuit acquired the early drug development business at Quintiles, Robyn moved from director of pharmaceutical services project manager to global director of client services.
Executive Assistant | IAMI
Melissa Simpson Rhodes has been with IAMI as an Executive Assistant since April 2015, returning to her roots in Kansas City after raising her family in Oklahoma. Melissa brings strong management and organizational skills with a background in finance. Melissa graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration, and has spent many years working in the hospitality, health care and public education sectors. Melissa primarily assists Scott Weir, but is also involved with other initiatives such as RareKC and the Drug Discovery Delivery and Experimental Therapeutics Program for The University of Kansas Cancer Center.