Old Dominion University has selected Kevin Leslie to serve as the first associate vice president for innovation and commercialization.
Leslie is charged with transforming ODU’s technology transfer operation to better identify, develop and market faculty, staff and student intellectual property and startups. He will also lead the pursuit of federal and other grant opportunities in innovation and ecosystem building, which have increased significantly as the result of recent congressional appropriations. In addition, Leslie will represent the University in a variety of regional, statewide and national innovation and technology transfer venues. In his new role, he will work closely with Sarah Jane Kirkland, who was named associate vice president for corporate partnerships in December.
“Dr. Leslie will take ODU’s innovation and commercialization activities to the next level of success, as appropriate for an R1 institution,” said Morris Foster, vice president for research. “ODU will expand its role as Hampton Roads’ academic research and innovation leader.”
For the past two years, Leslie served as the inaugural executive director of the Hampton Roads Biomedical Research Consortium (HRBRC), a state-sponsored partnership among ODU, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University and Sentara Healthcare collaboratively advancing regional health equity and biohealth innovation. In that role, he worked closely with regional leadership to develop and implement collaborative strategic plans, deploy $22 million in capital and operating funds, create novel partnerships with the community and startup ecosystem, and build shared research infrastructure and resources.
"Building the Hampton Roads Biomedical Research Consortium helped me gain a deep understanding of the region and its institutions. As ODU’s role in Hampton Roads and the commonwealth continues to grow, I look forward to building on that knowledge to accelerate the translation of ideas from its labs and classrooms out into the world,” Leslie said. “Joining ODU in this new role allows me to continue fostering innovations that will strengthen the University’s research enterprise, contribute to a more resilient regional economy and address important societal challenges."
Prior to leading the HRBRC, he was associate director of VCU Ventures and provided scientific leadership for Richmond’s Health Innovation Consortium, a national private-public platform for supporting novel health care technologies. In addition, he led strategy and oversight at a university startup company developing novel molecular diagnostic techniques with applications in cancer medicine and the detection of genetic disorders.
He is active on state and local innovation and economic development boards, is a member of the 2023 CIVIC Executive Leadership class, and has served as adjunct faculty for the National Science Foundation I-Corps program. He is a mentor and subject-matter expert for startup ecosystems in Richmond and Hampton Roads.
Leslie holds a Ph.D. in integrated life sciences from Virginia Commonwealth University and earned master’s and bachelor’s degrees in biology from The College of William & Mary.
During the spring semester, Leslie will visit with faculty, students and staff to identify opportunities and issues to work on together to make innovation and commercialization integral parts of ODU’s research enterprise.