Michael Roof joins Iowa State as CTO for Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics biosciences platform

By Dan Kirkpatrick, Iowa State University Office of the Vice President for Research

Michael Roof has joined Iowa State University to serve as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics research and innovation platform, which supports the state of Iowa’s biosciences-based economic growth initiative.

In his role as CTO, Roof will lead efforts to identify and accelerate development of new technologies and innovations with strong commercial potential in the Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics platform. Roof will work closely with platform lead, Balaji Narasimhan, and research teams at Iowa State and the University of Iowa to identify technologies with commercial potential in the platform space. Roof will also work in tandem with the Iowa Innovation Corporation (IIC) CEO and staff to prioritize those opportunities for commercial development within Iowa.

“The chief technology officer plays a critical role in accelerating the translation of emerging technologies and enhancing collaborative networks with industry,” Narasimhan said. “The goal of our national search was to identify an exceptional candidate who understands the scientific and technological underpinnings of the Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics portfolio and who has extensive industry experience. Dr. Roof checks both boxes, and we’re pleased he agreed to join the team at Iowa State to serve in this important capacity.”

Roof comes to Iowa State with nearly three full decades of vaccines and animal pharmaceuticals experience. He spent the past 22 years with industry leader, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. Over the past 10 years with the company, he served in an executive director role and headed up technical efforts to support global research and vaccine development in the U.S. (three sites), Germany, and China, focusing on cattle, swine, dogs, and cats. Roof is credited with more than 25 patents and patent applications throughout his career. Roof earned his B.S. in Microbiology, M.S. in Veterinary Microbiology and Ph. D. in Immunobiology and Veterinary Microbiology, all from Iowa State University.

“I’ve spent my entire career focusing on the discovery and advancement of vaccines for disease prevention, so this is a dream opportunity to return to Iowa State to join a world-class team and contribute to this important Bioscience-focused initiative,” Roof said. “With this position’s link to the Nanovaccine Institute, I’m excited to help explore greater opportunities to leverage platforms at both Iowa State and the University of Iowa to create technologies that benefit both animal and human health.”

Roof’s addition to the Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics development team at Iowa State was made possible, in part, by a $750,000 fiscal year 2021 research award by the Iowa Innovation Corporation.

“We firmly believe that working with our research partners and stakeholders to strengthen and expand our nationally renowned innovation ecosystem is key to advancing our work in the Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics category and helping the state grow and diversify its economy,” said Guru Rao, interim vice president for research at Iowa State. “Bringing Dr. Roof onboard as CTO is a critical step in affirming Iowa as an innovation leader in Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, and will help accelerate technology transfer from the research labs of Iowa State to the marketplace served by Iowa-based companies.”