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VenturePeople, June 20, 2011
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TopSpin's Ian Rogers

IAN ROGERS, a frequent Nashville visitor and the Los Angeles-based CEO of TopSpin Media, will soon take the reins as host of webcast This Week in Music, Rogers told VNC. TWiM is one of a portfolio of ThisWeekIn webcasts including This Week in Startups, co-founded by longtime digital-beat publisher Jason Calacanis, based in Los Angeles. Rogers, 38, is also a member of Nashville's Leadership Music Class of 2012. An Indiana native, Rogers says he's committed to Leadership participation; LM's eight or more gatherings each year are all booked on his calendar, Rogers told VNC. Apple co-founder Steve 'Woz' Wozniak signed-up in 2008, but the commute apparently proved too much.  Rogers was dubbed "one of the few beacons of common sense" in the Music industry by a Techcrunch writer as Rogers went aboard Topspin Media in 2008. Sixteen years ago, Rogers chose to support a Beastie Boys tour instead of completing his Ph.D. in computer science; he subsequently earned leadership roles with Yahoo! Music and other ventures. Rogers' lengthy and informative interview with Calacanis in March is here. Calacanis' version of Rogers' bio here; Rogers' LinkedIn, here.

Jon Lehman

JON LEHMAN recently told colleagues he'll soon become CEO of PAX Scientific, ending a six-year run as an associate dean within Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, where he often taught strategy for students focused on health information technology and related fields. In a recent letter to colleagues, Lehman said PAX Scientific needs his help commercializing the company's technologies. PAX was founded by current CEO Jay Harman, a biomimicry pioneer in engineering, about whom The New York Times reported in 2008. Lehman was earlier CEO of Evolved Digital Systems.

Gregg Lehman

GREGG LEHMAN is the Nashvillian who led Gordian Health Solutions before it was acquired in 2005 by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee. Lehman recently accepted the position of Interim CEO for Angeion Corp. (Saint Paul, Minn.), at the urging of Chairman Mark Sheffert, to whom Lehman previously reported as CEO of Health Fitness Corp. in the Twin Cities. Lehman left Health Fitness in late 2010 in part to work with a sponsor to launch Tennessee-based Meridian Group LLC, alongside a financial sponsor he did not reveal. Meridian will eventually be back in the hunt for acquisitions in healthcare services and HIT/SaaS (and possibly devices), it seems.

Richard Close

RICHARD CLOSE recently became Avondale Partners' newest healthcare research analyst. He spent the previous 14 years covering healthcare and pharma technology and supply chain, as well as education and business services for Jefferies; and, working with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and its predecessors, SunTrust Equitable and Equitable Securities. Early in his career, according to one source, he also covered privatization plays. His career began at Montgomery Securities and Montgomery Asset Management. His coverage universe has spanned at least 18 names familiar in Nashville, including Emdeon, Cerner, Allscripts, AthenaHealth, McKesson, Cardinal and Stericycle (which recently bought NotifyMD). Close has received many StarMine and Wall Street Journal accolades over the years for his analyses, stock-picking and projections. He earned his degree in economics at Rochester Institute of Technology in 1991. RIT's Distinguished Alumni Award was conferred on Close in 2005.


DAVID MERRYMAN, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, is no stranger to early-stage companies. Before he moved to Vanderbilt in 2009 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Merryman joined the advisory board of InQ Biosciences, based in Huntsville. InQ develops technologies for research and development focused on cell tissue growth. The company, which has been backed by area angel investors marshalled by InQ chairman and CEO Dick Reeves, is exploring a B-round raise. Merryman is still tracking efforts to commercialize a catheter on which he earned a utility patent, now held by UAB. At Vanderbilt, Merryman is involved in, among other things, early-stage work related to drug discovery. Merryman said he views commercialization of translatable research as an important means of advancing his work, attracting more grants and bolstering resources available to his VU team in the Merryman Mechanobiology Laboratory (MML). In the past 90 days, VUSE has announced that Merryman earned a National Science Foundation early career development grant here; and a University of Tennessee Alumni Promise Award here.


MEMPHIS Research Consortium, which is soon to receive $10 million in state funding to advance its work, has absorbed the Memphis Coalition for Advanced Networking (MCAN), said MRC President and Executive Director Russell Ingram, who previously held those same titles within MCAN, which he founded. MCAN is a municipal fiber optic research network that connects that area's research institutions at 10 gigabits per second. Ingram, 48, is a Vanderbilt Owen GSM (2004) degree holder. Ingram told VNC he expects to put a strategic plan for MRC in front of Haslam Administration officials by late Summer. The MRC website suggests the group has continually refined its vision.


AGVENTURE: The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, which touches most communities in the state and represents leverage for research and entrepreneurship, particularly in rural areas, is likely to get a new leader during the June 23 meeting of the UT Board of Trustees. Larry Arrington, professor of agricultural education and communication at the University of Florida, has been recommended by UT President Joe DiPietro for election by the UT Board of Trustees as the next chancellor of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. UT said in a release, in part, "A 23-member search committee comprised of University faculty, staff, students, alumni and administrators reviewed the applicant pool and identified four finalists for DiPietro to consider before recommending his choice to the Board. Arrington served as interim senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences from 2009 to 2010. Prior to that, Arrington worked in the Florida Extension Service, serving as dean from 2004 to 2009. He has worked at the University of Florida since 1981." Arrington's degrees are from the University of Florida, University of Georgia and the Ohio State University. Related Knoxville News Sentinel story here.

Kevin Proud

KEVIN PROUD, 25, says the Nashville area needs the Central Tennessee Entrepreneur Society, which he recently registered as a nonprofit with the state. Recently interviewed by VNC, Proud said he hadn't yet visited the Nashville Entrepreneur Center downtown, but said he has encountered a number of youthful adults of entrepreneurial mien who say they'd welcome a less formal organization in which to network and gather startup business tips. Asked why not just arrange meet-ups, Proud said formalizing the group will help recruit speakers and sponsors. Proud and his wife moved here from Austin to be near his wife's family. Proud said he has targeted commercial real estate for his own entrepreneurial pursuits. His previous gig here was as ad-marketing director for American Songwriter magazine, according to his LinkedInVNC


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Tags: agriculture, Angeion, Avondale Partners, biomechanics, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Central Tennessee Entrepreneur Society, David Merryman, Dick Reeves, Gordian Health Solutions, Gregg Lehman, Ian Rogers, InQ Biosciences, Institute of Agriculture, Jefferies, Jon Lehman, Kevin Proud, Larry Arrington, Memphis Research Consortium, Owen Graduate School of Management, people, Richard Close, Russell Ingram, Steve Wozniak, The Meridian Group, This Week in Music, This Week in Startups, TopSpin, TopSpin Media, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, VenturePeople, Yahoo!

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