Leaders from business, research, education to headline URI Leadership Summit Sept. 18,19

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KINGSTON, R.I. – September 15, 2015 – The University of Rhode Island’s 2015 Leadership Summit on Sept. 18 and 19 will showcase innovation and the impact of the University on the economy, health care and beyond.


President David M. Dooley, the URI Foundation and the URI Alumni Association have developed the two-day program, which runs Friday, from 11:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by the URI-Harvard football game at Meade Stadium. Space is limited. To register, call 401.874.4854 or visit alumni.uri.edu/leadership. University stakeholders as well as alumni and other high-level University volunteers, including the Alumni Association and Foundation boards, are expected to participate.


Throughout the weekend, attendees will get firsthand insight into URI’s laboratories and classrooms in sessions dealing with climate change, physical therapy, three-dimensional modeling at the molecular level, supply chain management, wind power, nursing simulations, neuroscience and biomedical devices engineered in URI laboratories.


Among the headline speakers are: Michael Fascitelli founder of MDF Capital LLC, and previously the president and chief executive officer of Vornado Realty Trust, NYC; Dr. N. Joseph Espat, chairman of the Department of Surgery, chief of Surgical Oncology, and director of the Cancer Center at Roger Williams Medical Center; and Annie De Groot, University of Rhode Island research professor and director of the URI Institute for Immunology and Informatics (iCubed), where she and her colleagues apply bioinformatics tools to accelerate the development of vaccines for infectious diseases such as H7N9 influenza, HIV, and tuberculosis.


Fascitelli, a 1978 graduate of URI who earned his bachelor of science in engineering summa cum laude, will speak during a networking event Friday, Sept. 18 at noon in the Ryan Center. Fascitelli continues to serve as a trustee of Vornado Realty Trust. Prior to joining Vornado, he was a partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co. He is currently a trustee of Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust, as well as a board member at Child Mind Institute, Real Estate Board of New York, Rockefeller University and Urban Land Institute. Fascitelli holds a master of business administration degree, with highest distinction, from Harvard Business School. Vornado is listed on the S&P 500 and has an enterprise value of more than $30 billion. The Anna Fascitelli Fitness and Wellness Center, dedicated in 2013 at URI, was named for Fascitelli’s late mother. Fascitelli, and his wife, Beth, were significant donors to the project.


Espat, the keynote speaker at Friday’s Leadership Summit Talk, from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Ryan Center, is also professor of surgery and assistant dean of clinical affairs at Boston University School of Medicine. He was recently named one of the top cancer physicians in the United States in Newsweek’s “Top Cancer Doctors 2015” list.


De Groot is the keynote for Saturday’s Leadership Summit talk at 8:30 a.m. in URI’s Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences. De Groot’s institute is also working to develop treatments and therapies for tropical diseases identified as “neglected” by the research community, including Dengue, filariasis, and malaria.

De Groot is nationally and internationally recognized as a leading force in the vaccine industry. She is working on an innovative campaign to immunize West African women against the human papillomavirus in an effort to prevent cervical cancer—her idea for the campaign, which involves using African storytelling cloth to educate people about the disease, won a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Last fall, De Groot was named one of the 50 most influential people in her field in an international survey of her peers conducted by the website VaccineNation. She has received more than $27 million in federal funding for her research, which has received national and international recognition for her innovative “genome–to–vaccine” approach.


Lorne Adrain, URI Foundation chair, said, “Our goal is to expose people to the amazing, inspirational and impactful work happening at our state’s land-grant University. It’s something every Rhode Islander, including our state leaders in government and industry, should know about, celebrate and be proud of.”