LINCOLN, Nebraska (Nov. 3, 2021)—Jim McClurg, PhD, former Charmain of the UNeMed Board of Directors and former Regent for the University of Nebraska, was honored with BioNebraska’s first-ever Bioscience Lifetime Achievement Award during the trade organization’s annual meeting last week.
McClurg—who played a significant role in the early stages of Hudl, one of Nebraska’s most successful startup companies—was a part of the group that created UNeMed, serving as its first chairman.
To hear Don Leuenberger tell it, UNeMed might owe its existence to McClurg.
“When we started UNeMed in 1991, it was very innovative,” said Leuenberger, who was UNMC’s Vice Chancellor for Business from 1988 until his retirement in 2015. “There weren’t any other tech transfer entities at the University of Nebraska… I think it was Jim’s presence on the board that prompted the Board Regents’ approval.”
As the person who invited McClurg to join to UNeMed in the first place, Leuenberger himself has often been called the “Godfather of UNeMed.” Leuenberger eventually went on to serve UNeMed as its chairman in 2006-2016, but he still points to McClurg’s early involvement as foundational.
“Certainly, he gave us the prominence, the respect and guidance that made this whole innovative thing work,” Leuenberger said. “He gave us legitimacy.”
McClurg’s impact and influence has not been lost on UNeMed’s current CEO and President, Michael Dixon.
“In addition to his role as a founding father of UNeMed, Jim has continued to serve UNeMed as a mentor and adviser,” Dixon said. “When UNeMed needed to restructure a decade ago, Jim’s guidance and mentorship were invaluable.”
UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green, PhD, presented the award during BioNebraska’s annual meeting, which included a video message from former governor Mike Johanns, a longtime friend of McClurg. Johanns also served as a U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
“If we are lucky, once in a lifetime, we meet someone who makes lifetime commitments and friendships that change our world,” Johanns said in the video. “Tonight, we honor such a man: Jim McClurg.”
A native of Bassett, Neb., McClurg earned his doctorate in biochemistry from UNMC in 1973. He sat on the University Board of Regents in 2002-2012, serving as chairman in 2006-2012.