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April 17, 2014

People of the Times

Yiran Chen, a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, was named the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding New Faculty Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Design Automation (SIGDA). The award will be presented June 3 in San Francisco.

The award recognizes a junior faculty member early in her or his academic career who demonstrates outstanding potential as an educator and/or researcher in the field of electronic design automation (EDA). While prior research and/or teaching accomplishments are important, the selection committee considers the impact that the candidate has had on her or his department and on the EDA field during the initial years of their academic appointment.

In an effort to build its leadership team, Pitt’s Innovation Institute has added two life sciences entrepreneurs to its senior staff.

Babs Carryer, a serial entrepreneur and educator, will serve as director of education and outreach. In addition, biotechnology industry executive Evan Facher has joined the institute’s Office of Enterprise Development (OED) as associate director. OED works with the Institute’s Office of Technology Management (OTM) to transform Pitt innovations into viable startup companies and teach commercialization and entrepreneurship.

Carryer will oversee the institute’s growing entrepreneurial education efforts, one of the key pillars of the institute’s mission.

The University launched the Innovation Institute in November 2013 to strengthen its efforts in fostering a thriving and cohesive culture of entrepreneurship, innovation commercialization and economic development on campus and in the Pittsburgh community.

Carryer, who blogs regularly about entrepreneurship in New Venturist, is no stranger to Pitt’s entrepreneurial education endeavors. She has been working with Pitt’s OTM and OED to manage and expand their 14-week educational course for faculty, researchers and students, “Benchtop to Bedside: What Every Scientist Needs to Know,” for the past eight years. This year, she also has been managing the Randall Family Big Idea Competition, which has become an institute program. The competition encourages students to develop innovative startup ideas, combining training and programming to provide a hands-on experience in turning those ideas into commercial reality.

Prior to joining Pitt, Carryer taught entrepreneurship courses for 15 years at Carnegie Mellon University, where she also served as an embedded entrepreneur and innovation adviser for programs that promoted entrepreneurship. In addition, she is president of Carryer Consulting and a cofounder of Pittsburgh-based LaunchCyte, a life-sciences-focused startup accelerator with a portfolio of companies under its wing.

Facher most recently served as president and CEO of SironRX Therapeutics, a private, clinical-stage company that develops novel drug therapies for dermal wound repair. Previously, he spent eight years at Bayer HealthCare’s MEDRAD medical device division, where he most recently served as general manager of its Pittsburgh interventional business unit.

He also has participated in corporate fundraising activities over the years that resulted in more than $100 million from venture capitalists, strategic partners and state and federal grant sources. Facher earned a PhD in human genetics from Pitt.


The People of the Times column features recent news on faculty and staff, including awards and other honors, accomplishments and administrative appointments.

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