Founder, Icagen, Inc.
P. Kay Wagoner, Ph.D. has over thirty years of experience as a leader in drug discovery, drug development and health care. Dr. Wagoner founded and led a not-for-profit cardiovascular disease prevention and rehabilitation company for which she raised funding, led multi-faceted teams of healthcare workers, and provided direct patient care. While working for Glaxo, Inc., Dr. Wagoner led the discovery of new drug candidates targeting membrane bound receptors and ion channels for central nervous system, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, and in doing so, led the establishment of novel screening systems and the identification of leads for further development. Based on experiences in founding companies and working in big pharma, Dr. Wagoner founded Icagen, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in RTP, North Carolina, where she served as Head of Research and as Chief Executive Officer from 1996 through 2011. At Icagen, Dr. Wagoner led teams involved in the discovery, preclinical and clinical development of drugs for sickle cell anemia, atrial fibrillation, urinary incontinence, memory disorders, epilepsy and pain. Dr. Wagoner led collaborations to develop new drugs with six major pharmaceutical companies and took Icagen public in 2005 before its acquisition by Pfizer.
Dr. Wagoner has undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing, as well as a PhD in physiology and postdoctoral work in pharmacology. She was a Robert Wood Johnston scholar and was awarded a Grass Fellowship for study at the Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In 2001, Dr. Wagoner was awarded the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Distinguished Alumna Award for Science and Business. In 2004, she received the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award by the North Carolina Council for Entrepreneurial Development and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Regional Award for Life Sciences and Healthcare. In 2007, Dr. Wagoner was honored for outstanding achievement by the Women in Bio organization. Dr. Wagoner serves or has served on a variety of boards of directors, including the public company Board of Directors of Icagen, Inc., the N.C Biotechnology Center Board of Directors, the University of North Carolina’s Graduate Advisory Board, the Governing Body of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO) Emerging Companies Section, the University of North Carolina Board of Visitors, and the boards of numerous private life-science startup companies.
Throughout her career, Dr. Wagoner has focused on advancing the underlying science that is foundational to building strong life-science companies. Based on her experiences building her own businesses, she has challenged others to look at the end goal when setting early strategic business priorities. For the past ten years, Dr. Wagoner has been an advisor to 40 startup companies working in multiple therapeutic areas. She has advised on research, preclinical, clinical, and regulatory strategies, as well as on general business issues, e.g., business plans, obtaining grants, loans and investments, commercial and competitive analyses, financial modeling and exit strategies. Examples include startups focused on 1) targeting the GI microbiome, 2) kinase receptors for new drug cancer treatments, 3) novel delivery technologies for obesity, Rett’s Syndrome and Parkinson’s Disease, 4) new antibiotics for drug-resistant bacteria, and 5) women’s health.