December 23, 2021

President Turner: Year One

In December 2020, the MLSC began a new chapter with Kenn Turner starting in the role as the Center’s new and permanent President and Chief Executive Officer. Kenn brought executive-level leadership experience, having held parallel public sector, industry and military officer careers, and joined the MLSC with a keen expertise in leading highly complex, matrix-driven operations in public and private-sector organizations.

President Turner is continuing to navigate the ecosystem following an ambitious first year building his team and creating alliances, while also participating in approximately 100 external opportunities engaging cross-sector leaders throughout the Commonwealth.

Building Strong Partnerships with Industry

In December, President Turner traveled to Acton for a visit with the leadership team of Insulet, whose decision to choose Massachusetts to onshore their manufacturing facility back to the U.S. from overseas, continues to serve as a model for the type of companies we want to attract and help grow here in MA on the manufacturing front.
This past June, President Turner joined local and state officials for a tour of Worcester-based Mustang Bio. The clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company is focused on translating today’s medical breakthroughs in cell and gene therapies into potential cures for hematologic cancers, solid tumors, and rare genetic diseases.

Driving Innovation

In August, President Turner and André Haspels, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands visited LUMICKS, a Waltham-based biotechnology company aiming to improve human health by empowering researchers with tools that provide unparalleled insight into the fundamental cause of disease and the potential for drug optimization.
This past September, President Turner toured Northeastern University’s Burlington Innovation Campus, which houses the MLSC-funded Biopharmaceutical Analysis Training Laboratory (BATL), which aims to train students in drug creation, manufacturing, and regulatory steps.

Prioritizing Regionalization

In October, President Turner ventured to Woburn to celebrate Vaxess Technologies’ new manufacturing facility. In the past year, Vaxess has more than doubled their headcount.
President Turner was no stranger to the thriving regional clusters taking hold across Massachusetts. This included several visits on the North Shore. In 2021, the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute opened its new, state-of-the-art biomanufacturing learning environment enabling its Gloucester Biotechnology Academy to double its annual class size.

Meeting the Workforce Demand

Among his visits in the summer was Middlesex Community College, where President Turner saw first-hand the impact its Biotechnology Technician program is experiencing thanks in part to MLSC capital funding totaling more than $3 million. The Center has also sponsored 82 internships for their students.
President Turner was grateful to learn more about Quincy College’s Biotechnology and Compliance program, established in 2010 and regularly funded in the years since by significant MLSCC capital grant investments, which continues to successfully educate and train workers each year to enter the biotechnology field, where demand for employees continues to exceed supply.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

President Turner greatly enjoyed discovering the exciting opportunities young people are experiencing thanks to the Life Sciences Center. This included a visit to MassBiologics’ Mattapan facility to learn about internship opportunities MassBiologics is providing to local high school and college students. Through its High School Apprenticeship Challenge, the MLSC has funded 10 internships at MassBiologics.
Non-profit partners will continue to play a key role in helping diversify and strengthen the ecosystem. This past fall, President Turner addressed the graduating class of Just-A-Start’s Biomedical Careers Program. The MLSC has provided Just-A-Start nearly $200,000 in funding to support their mission.