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Salk Institute Board of Trustees Elects Leaders in Business, Innovation and Philanthropy to its Membership

Salk Trustees

Dean L. Kamen, Ralph S. O'Connor, Conrad T. Prebys, and Margaret Faye Wilson

The Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute unanimously voted to elect four new members with records of extraordinary entrepreneurial success and expertise in business, innovation, real estate and philanthropy during its April meeting in La Jolla.

"These four individuals exemplify uniquely American success stories of innovation, entrepreneurial acumen and the desire to give back to their communities and the world," said Salk Board Chairman Irwin M. Jacobs. "I am confident that their considerable business expertise, overall good sense and generosity will make them invaluable colleagues and assets to the Institute."

Jacobs said the four new board members are joining the Salk leadership at a moment of both impressive research productivity and a growing public awareness of the small but internationally renowned non-profit institute in La Jolla.

Dean L. Kamen, of New Hampshire, is a vastly successful inventor best known for designing the Segway, the two-wheeled, upright scooter he unveiled in December 2001. He holds more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents, many of them for innovative medical devices that have expanded the frontiers of health care worldwide.

While still a college undergraduate, he invented the first wearable infusion pump, which rapidly gained acceptance from such diverse medical specialties as chemotherapy, neonatology and endocrinology. In 1976 he founded his first medical device company, AutoSyringe, Inc., to manufacture and market the pumps. At age 30, he sold that company to Baxter International Corporation. By then, he had added a number of other infusion devices, including the first insulin pump for diabetics.

His most recent project, the "Luke Arm," is a state-of-the-art robotic arm for amputees, funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Kamen has won numerous awards for his contributions to science and technology. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 for his biomedical devices and for making engineering more popular among high school students. In 2000 he was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Bill Clinton. Two years later he received the Lemelson-MIT Prize for inventors for his invention of the Segway and the infusion pump for diabetics. Kamen was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the AutoSyringe the following year.

Ralph S. O'Connor has served as chairman and CEO of the private investment firm of Ralph S. O'Connor & Associates since 1987, when he formed the company. Previously he was corporate director for Texas Eastern Corporation (1963-1989). O'Connor was among the four original partners who acquired the NBA's San Diego Rockets and took them to Texas as the Houston Rockets. He is Chairman of Arnaud's Restaurant, a landmark New Orleans eatery.

He is also Trustee Emeritus of Johns Hopkins University, having served from 1969 to 1975 and again in 1981. His exceptional generosity at Hopkins helped fund scholarships for undergraduates at the Krieger School for Arts and Sciences, a named professorship in biology, and the creation of the Walter J. Stark Chair in Ophthalmology in the School of Medicine.

He is also a Trustee Emeritus of Rice University; and former president of the Marian and Speros Martel Foundation of Houston (1983-2003), the organization that funded Martel College at Rice University.

Conrad T. Prebys built a real estate empire after founding Progress Construction and Management Company in 1966 in El Cajon, Calif. With a network of buildings and single-family homes spread across San Diego County, Prebys is among the region's 20 largest property tax payers.

Since 2004 he has been broadening his legacy as a philanthropist, giving away nearly $50 million to San Diego organizations. His philanthropy has had a significant positive impact on a number of area organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club of East County, the Scripps Mercy Medical Group, UC San Diego and the Sanford-Burnham Institute for Medical Research (which renamed its genomics facility the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics).

Margaret Faye Wilson, a leader in the banking and retail industries with more than 25 years of executive experience, currently serves as principal and co-founder of Wilson Boyles & Company, a business management and strategic planning consulting firm with offices in San Diego and Chicago.

She previously held the position of senior vice president of the Risk Management Group for The Home Depot, also serving on that board of directors.

Wilson spent 21 years at Bank of America, where she flourished as a top-level executive and manager, including executive vice president, and chairman and president of Security Pacific Financial Services (a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation).

During her career at Bank of America, Wilson was responsible for several successful initiatives: She led the turnaround and sale of a $2.4 billion consumer finance business; and created new corporate advisory services, debt restructuring products, and a mergers and acquisition division for the company's European and U.S. entities.