Renamed West Health Institute Names CEO, Creates Health Tech Incubator

8/15/12Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego’s renamed West Health Institute has hired a new CEO and is unveiling some organizational changes today, reflecting its continuing shift away from an exclusive focus on wireless health to a broader mission that studies ways to lower healthcare costs

The organization that began more than three years ago as the “West Wireless Health Institute” was initially billed as one the world’s first medical research organizations created to advance health and well-being through the use of wireless technologies. Gary and Mary West, the philanthropists who founded the nonprofit, have pledged $100 million to get the center going. But the institute began re-casting itself early last year, eliminating some commercial initiatives and severing some industry ties—notably with San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM)—as it began emphasizing its role as an independent institute providing its expertise in a variety of ways to help lower health care costs.

The shift seems to be set against a broader conflict between mobile device makers and federal health regulators.

Nicholas Valeriani

In a statement this morning, the West Health Institute named former Johnson & Johnson executive Nicholas J. Valeriani as its new CEO. Valeriani, a vice president for strategy and growth at J&J headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ, succeeds Don Casey, a former J&J executive who left the institute in March, after about two years as the institute’s CEO.

While Casey’s resignation was a huge disappointment for many in San Diego, there’s a logic to the institute’s shift away from a tech-centric focus, says Rob McCray of the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance, a San Diego nonprofit industry group.

The institute also announced the creation of a new business incubator, with about 10,000 square feet of space, for early stage health care companies developing innovative technologies. In addition to providing the space and infrastructure for new companies, the West Health Incubator will provide strategic guidance and access to corporate partners. Companies seeking admittance to the incubator must first receive an investment commitment from the West Health Investment Fund.

The investment fund was created … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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