Rob Dewit

President and CEO of the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center in Kalamazoo. The Southwest Michigan Innovation Center is a business incubator and accelerator for life science companies. The center celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and has about 75 percent of its lab space and nearly all of its office space occupied. The center initiated its Launch MI Lab, a fully equipped and staffed bioscience laboratory, in late 2012. Five companies have graduated from the center and moved on to become successful startups. Responsible for hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars added to the local economy, the center is expanding its offerings with a $600,000 Michigan Strategic Fund grant awarded in 2012. DeWit has 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry starting with the Upjohn Co. and serving the legacy companies in a variety of roles until retiring from Pfizer in 2008 as the R&D site lead in Kalamazoo. In addition to his continuous association with drug safety activities, DeWit led a complete preclinical laboratory in Japan for two years, participated in global acquisition team work, and represented safety interests for consumer health care, manufacturing quality assurance teams, and the animal health divisions of the various companies. He also aided research and leadership functions in the United Kingdom. DeWit started his career with Warner-Lambert/Parke Davis in Ann Arbor. He received his bachelor of science degree from Calvin College and his doctorate in toxicology from the University of Michigan.

WHERE BORN: “Grand Rapids.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “I have been blessed with several remarkable mentors. They include my father, Henry, who taught me how to go to work every day; three women with whom I shared my office in graduate school who were instrumental in changing the way I saw the world in so many ways — Dr. Anne Marie Gebhart, Dr. Rebecca Head, and Dr. Sumol Pavittranon, who is now a government official in Thailand; Dr. Jim Moe, my long–time boss and friend with whom I traveled the world and who always did what was right for the moment no matter how it impacted him personally; and my wife of 35 years, Joanne, who works harder than anyone I've ever met and who often raised our children while I was in an airport somewhere else in the world.”

LAST BOOK READ:In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner and Doc by Mary Doria Russell.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Confident, focused, admittedly impatient but also grateful, and I hope, credible.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “This is a conundrum for me as the future is not clear. On the one hand, new techniques and advances in our understanding of the genetic basis of health and disease have put us in a position to plan for personalized medicine; something that was impossible to dream about when I began my professional career in 1983. That is so very exciting, if we can only figure out a means to pay for it. On the other hand, so many scientists have been displaced by the consolidation of the pharmaceutical and chemical industries that I think the future of modern medicine might be in jeopardy; certainly things will proceed more slowly. For some of the right reasons and some of the wrong reasons, the funding of scientific endeavors has been reduced dramatically, which will negatively impact progress.”

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: “No question, anything related to GPS technology. I love knowing that "Sally" can find the way for me if I need to take a detour. It fits my impatient nature very well. I have also used a handheld GPS as a speedometer while trolling for northern pike in the Canadian wilderness.”

FAVORITE PLACE: “Wherever my family is. My favorite city is Yokohama City, Japan. To play into the Pure Michigan theme, I just returned from northern Michigan, which is as beautiful a place as anywhere I've been in the world. Except for being with my family, I suppose my favorite place is wherever the fish are biting, the bugs are not, and the scenery is spectacular.”

FAVORITE HOBBIES: “Fishing and golfing and walking as it relates to the first two.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “My wife is a phenomenal cook, so just about anything Joanne cooks. My second favorite would be sashimi when the fish deserves to be served as sashimi, and my third would be sushi. After that, I enjoy nearly everything that someone else was kind enough to prepare for me as cooking is neither a skill nor a priority for me. I am willing to clean up.”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “I love to sing, but am not invited to do so very often, especially by my kids. Some have suggested that I could be a standup comedian for my ability to find infinite entertainment in the everyday things of life.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “As someone who cared about others, who worked hard with the talents he was given, and who was grateful to God and the people around him for the wonderful life he was blessed to live. I'm also hoping to live long enough that people will forget the impatient side of me, especially my children.”