New Director at BIG

Brian McIlroy

Published May 12, 2016

Brian McIlroy, a veteran of the life sciences industry with a decade of experience at GE, has been named the first executive director of the Buffalo Institute for Genomics and Data Analytics (BIG).

“As BIG looks to transform New York State into a national center for genomic medicine, Brian will bring the leadership, vision and experience necessary to move the institute forward.”
Venu Govindaraju, Vice President
UB Research and Economic Development


McIlroy — who served in various roles at GE from 2007 to 2016, most recently as managing director of alliance management for GE Ventures in Albany — started his new role at BIG on May 9.

The institute, part of UB, is a key component of a $100 million genomic medicine initiative previously announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The effort partners UB with the New York Genome Center in Manhattan to translate research advances in the field into clinical care in partnership with industry to drive economic growth in Buffalo and New York State. As executive director of BIG, McIlroy will develop and implement a comprehensive plan for advancing the mission of the institute, with a focus on driving innovation and generating economic impact through industry collaboration. He will lead the team at BIG in engaging industry and other partners on projects that transform genomic research advances into tools for treating, preventing, managing and diagnosing disease.

“Brian is coming to Buffalo with more than 20 years of experience in the life sciences industry,” says Christina Orsi, UB associate vice president for economic development. “He has a strong track record of success in building strategic partnerships and moving new technologies forward. He has worked with large companies, with universities and with startups. This experience positions him well to lead BIG.”

Venu Govindaraju, vice president for research and economic development, notes that during a national search, “Brian stood out for his enthusiasm and for the depth and breadth of his experience. As BIG looks to transform New York State into a national center for genomic medicine, Brian will bring the leadership, vision and experience necessary to move the institute forward.”

At GE, McIlroy was responsible for initiatives that included developing strategic partnerships within the company and with external partners to identify opportunities for bringing new technologies to the market. He has expertise in developing these partnerships, managing alliances and creating value propositions that facilitate the development of new products.

He began his most recent role with the company — managing director for alliance management with GE Ventures — in 2014. Prior to that, he served as clinical systems platform leader and technology leader in GE Global Research, and commercial development leader in GE Idea Works.

McIlroy holds a PhD in medical biophysics from University College London. His experience in the life sciences industry began in research — in 1994, completing his doctorate while working as a research assistant in the National Medical Laser Center in London, England.

He conducted postdoctoral research at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto from 1998 to 2001 before serving as an assistant professor in radiation oncology and director of science for the photodynamic therapy program in the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center at East Carolina University.

From there, he was tapped to join a West Coast startup, Light Sciences Corp., where he held successively responsible positions with the company, serving initially as manager for photodynamic therapy science and optics, and rising to become the leader of the ophthalmology division before joining GE.