Jeff Welch has joined Duke as director of new ventures, while executive director Robin Rasor has been promoted to associate VP.

Duke University has unveiled personnel changes as part of a restructuring of its technology transfer operation, appointing Jeff Welch as director of new ventures and promoting Robin Rasor to associate vice-president for translation and commercialisation.

The university unveiled plans for a dramatic overhaul earlier this month, announcing that its Office of Licensing and Ventures (OLV) would become part of a larger operation called Research Translation and Commercialization from July 1.

Rasor was the executive director of OLV since she joined Duke from University of Michigan in June 2016. She had been at Michigan for 15 years, most recently serving as managing director of licensing.

Welch, now the director of new ventures at Duke, joined from orthopaedic therapy developer Bioventus. He had joined Bioventus in May 2012 and acted as vice-president, business development, since January 2016.

Welch’s appointment marks a return to his alma mater: he joined the university in 1994 for a BSc in biology and economics, eventually departing after a one-year stint as a postdoc fellow in neurobiology in 2006.

Welch said: “I am thrilled to return to Duke and join OLV. I am passionate about new technology development and maximising the odds that new products will achieve their potential to improve human life through business success – and that is what Duke New Venture is all about.”

Rasor said: “The university’s pipeline and the deal flow that comes out of it have grown quite nicely over the past few years. In particular, we have focused on ensuring that our agreement terms are commensurate with our peers and that we close as many deals as possible.

“The number of our startups has increased and we are focused on the quality of the startups in terms of their attractiveness to investors and potential for exits via public markets or acquisitions.”

Duke University launched 17 companies last year, for a total of 159, and executed 105 licensing agreements.

Photographs courtesy of Duke University