2006.02.10 Broward Sun Sentinel Press Release

Trade Group Leader Moving To Equity Firm
February 10, 2006|By Glenn Singer Business Writer

Diana Robinson, president of biotechnology trade group BioFlorida, said Thursday she is leaving to head business development for Aisling Capital, a major life science private equity firm with $1 billion under management.

"Simply, it was an offer I could not refuse," said Robinson, who will continue to be based in South Florida but will "spend a great deal of time in New York and elsewhere." She said she would remain as BioFlorida's acting president through March and oversee its annual meeting later this month. A search committee has been formed to find a successor.

Robinson, whose job is to assist existing biotech firms and bring others to Florida, characterized her time at the West Palm Beach organization as "a struggle," largely because of the political and legal controversies surrounding Scripps Florida and its search for a permanent site.

The Palm Beach County Commission is expected to vote on its choice for Scripps' campus on Tuesday. Locations from Jupiter to Boca Raton are being considered. Scripps' initial choice, Mecca Farms in northern Palm Beach County, faces environmental hurdles that could tie up the project for years.

"I remain committed to the growth of the biosciences industry in Florida as I take on my new role at Aisling," Robinson said. "I look forward to continuing to play an important role in advancing biotechnology throughout Florida."

Robinson's new employer was spun out of Perseus-Soros Management. It recently raised $550 million in equity for its life sciences fund, Aisling Capital II. The fund will invest primarily in life science companies that are developing biopharmaceutical products and creating businesses based on advanced life science technologies.

Tom McLain, chief executive of Boca Raton-based Nabi Biopharmaceuticals and chairman of the BioFlorida board, praised Robinson for increasing the organization's membership and raising regional and national awareness about Florida within the industry.

"While it will be a challenge to find a successor who can match Diana's abilities and drive, we will be seeking to attract leadership that can help BioFlorida take biotechnology to the next level in our state," McLain said.