BioHealth Innovation Adds Diane Ignar, Ph.D. and Dr. Loleta Robinson as NIH New Entrepreneurs-in-Residence

Biohealth and Entrepreneur Experts Joins Robust Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR) Team

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND, August 23, 2021  BioHealth Innovation Inc. (BHI) announces the addition of Diane Ignar, Ph.D., and Dr. Loleta Robinson to the expanding Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR) team. The Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program at BHI ensures that disruptive technologies receive all the resources required to transform the technology from a discovery into a commercially relevant product and eventually have a measurable impact on human health. The program was created to support scientists, early-stage startups, and licensed technologies to provide them with access to these resources. Diane will work with NIH’s National Institute on Aging, and Loleta will work with their Office of Extramural Research.

 “BHI is pleased to welcome Diane and Loleta to our growing group of EIRs working with the National Institutes of Health,” said Richard Bendis, BHI President, and CEO. “Their backgrounds in healthcare, venture capital, and helping early-stage businesses are key to our mission for the program nationally, and regionally.”

Diane Ignar brings broad experience in biopharmaceutical research and development and business strategy. During her 22 year tenure at GlaxoSmithKline, she developed novel screening technologies, contributed to the discovery of new therapeutic targets, and led the development of three clinical-stage medicines for respiratory and metabolic diseases. In addition, Diane was chair of the metabolic diseases lead optimization portfolio, directed the metabolic diseases department, and led business development efforts for two significant technology partnerships. Since departing from GSK, she has held senior leadership roles in life science startups. She has assisted numerous startups at Duke University and the University of North Carolina with business strategy, R&D plans, and seed funding. In addition, Diane was co-founder, President, and CSO of Ostrea Bio which focused on novel therapy for lysosomal storage diseases. She is currently the President of Surrey View Consulting LLC, which offers services to biotechnology companies and nonprofit foundations in the areas of drug development, business and R&D strategy, and business development. Diane received her Ph.D. in neuropharmacology from Duke University and was an NIH PRAT fellow. She received her BS Pharmacy from Purdue University and is a Registered Pharmacist.

“I am delighted to join the BHI team as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence,” said Diane Ignar. “I look forward to assisting NIA entrepreneurs with their journey of bringing innovations to the market.”

Dr. Loleta Robinson is a seasoned physician entrepreneur, startup advisor, venture partner with extensive healthcare technology and services expertise. She is the Founder and Principal of Fortis Industries, LLC, a firm specializing in blending data analytics, due diligence, and a strong industry network to identify and evaluate prospective healthcare investment, in-licensing, and partnership opportunities for various clients. Dr. Robinson calls on her extensive industry experience and relationships to help bring together venture capital and corporate innovation firms with appropriate healthcare startups and early-stage companies with the potential to significantly improve the quality of care. She also facilitates their collaboration via incubators, accelerators, and other entrepreneurial support organizations and researches the healthcare market landscape to provide competitive analyses and offer industry insights. In addition, Dr. Robinson serves on the advisory board of startup companies.

Dr. Robinson most recently worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield Nebraska (BCBSNE) as Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR). During this time, she evaluated and sourced digital health, healthcare, and technology solutions aligned with corporate strategies. 

Dr. Robinson also co-founded Syan Biosciences, LLC to discover, develop and commercialize novel biomarkers for early melanoma detection. 

Dr. Robinson holds a BA in Microbiology from the University of Kansas, an MD from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and an MBA in Health Administration from University of Colorado at Denver. She also recently completed a Certificate – Venture Capital Finance from the National Venture Capital Association’s VC University ONLINE at UC Berkeley School of Law.

“It is an exciting opportunity to be joining the BHI team as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence,” said Loleta Robinson. “Helping NIH innovators advance their product development efforts and bring their products to market is an energizing challenge.”

About BioHealth Innovation, Inc.

BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI) is a public-private nonprofit organization focused on accelerating biohealth (therapeutic, diagnostic, medtech, and health IT) commercialization in the BioHealth Capital Region (Maryland, DC, and Virginia). BHI’s team of expert Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, in-house venture analysts, and other professional staff work in the region to:

  • Facilitate technology commercialization,
  • Raise the profile of the industry cluster and individual organizations,
  • Increase access to capital for early-stage and growing companies, and
  • Expand the pool of talent with commercially relevant experience.

BHI’s early-stage company support includes market research and commercialization plan development, non-dilutive funding application assistance; a jobs board; event calendar; and introductions to investors, strategic partners, business advisors, and potential clients. BHI also manages wet lab space and provides referrals to other spaces for early-stage companies, offers soft-landing support for international companies, and works with partners to co-host the annual BioHealth Capital Region Forum and an annual BioHealth Capital Region investor partnering conference. For more information:

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Media contacts:
Rich Bendis
Phone: 301-637-6439, email: [email protected]