Trudeau Institute taps Reiley as new president

Bill Reiley ‘fell in love’ with institute’s research model 17 years ago

Bill Reiley (Photo provided)

SARANAC LAKE — Trudeau Institute has a new leader.

Dr. Bill Reiley was appointed its next president, director and chief executive officer by its board of trustees this week after Bill Chapin announced his plans to step down on Feb. 1.

Reiley has been with Trudeau Institute for 17 years, researching diseases like coronavirus, tuberculosis, influenza and herpes. He’s held a range of positions since he arrived in 2006, and said that while he never planned to stick around, he enjoyed the institute’s research model so much that he chose to stay.

In January of last year, Dr. Atsuo Kuki stepped down from leading Trudeau Institute after six years in the position. The institute’s board of directors appointed Chapin, then the institute’s chief administrative officer and chief financial officer, as its interim director. At the time, Trudeau Institute Board Chair Kip Testwuide said Kuki’s leaving was “unexpected” but done for personal reasons. Chapin was appointed full-time to the position a month later. Recently, after 10 years with the institute, he accepted a new position at another organization in the Tri-Lakes region. The institute has been asked not to say where until that organization makes its announcement, according to spokesperson Elisabeth Cain.

“We’re grateful for Bill’s leadership throughout his career here, and we wish him the best in his new endeavor,” Testwuide said.

Tina Moody, who has been at Trudeau Institute for two years, will be taking over Chapin’s chief administrative officer and controller roles.

17 years of research

It’s been an whirlwind week for Reiley as he prepares for the transition. But he said he’s already working with everyone at the institute on a number of projects, so he expects the transition to be quick and easy.

“I think Bill Chapin has done a good job to set us up,” Reiley said.

“I’m incredibly honored to have the chance to serve as director of Trudeau Institute,” Reiley said in a statement. “Since the institute opened its doors 60 years ago, our groundbreaking work with infectious diseases has helped save countless lives. I’ve been inspired my entire career by the remarkably talented team here.”

He is currently the chief scientific officer, as well as a principal investigator and head of the research institute’s affiliate contract research unit TICRO Bioservices, a company he helped launch in 2011, which he said is “near and dear to my heart.”

“In 2010 there was an economic downturn. Grants were increasingly hard to obtain and resources at the institute were strained,” Reiley said.

The institute’s funding was predominately through grants. As faculty members started to think about ways to diversify revenue, they decided contracting research to pharmaceutical companies looking to test the efficacy of their products was a good way to do that. The institute was already doing this at times, but TICRO expanded and centralized that. It started with Reiley as its sole operator and now employs 19 people.

“In recent years, employment at TICRO has tripled, and six of the world’s 20 largest pharmaceutical companies are among its clients,” according to a Trudeau Institute press release. “Those companies rely on TICRO to evaluate the efficacy of new vaccines, adjuvants and other anti-infective therapies before they are used in clinical trials.”

Testwuide noted that TICRO revenue has played an increasingly important role in supporting the institute’s ongoing research in areas such as tuberculosis, COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

“Few people have the mix of scientific and entrepreneurial acumen needed to bring Trudeau Institute into its next 60 years as Bill Reiley,” Testwuide said. “He not only understands the challenges we face but, after spending nearly his entire career here, has a deep appreciation for the work we all do — and all we’re capable of accomplishing. The entire board is confident Bill is the right person to make this happen.”

Under Kuki’s leadership, Reiley said the institute has pivoted to more drug and therapeutics discovery, particularly in tuberculosis.

“A lot of us in the U.S. still think TB is eradicated. We don’t really think about it,” he said. “But in the world’s population, this is still a very prevalent problem.”

Tuberculosis continues to be Earth’s most deadly disease, killing 1.6 million people in 2022, according to the World Health Organization.

When the coronavirus pandemic began, even before it reached U.S. shores, Reiley was one of the researchers working on a universal COVID-19 vaccine and later helped publish a paper in partnership with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, which was supported by the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed vaccine program.

The institute is currently researching pathogens that have not emerged widespread, but could in the future. This “outbreak science” is important in terms of protecting against bioterrorism, Reiley said.

In 2022, Trudeau Institute researcher In-Jeong Kim was the lead author on a paper researching a potential vaccine for the Zika virus. Her research showed a vaccine candidate as being safe and effective at preventing transmission to fetuses in pregnant animals.

“I’m in good hands”

When Reiley came to Trudeau as a postdoctoral fellow from Penn State in 2006, he said it was not his plan to grow a career at the institute.

“Usually as a postdoc you come to a place for four to six years,” he said. “Usually you find another position … after that.”

But he “fell in love” with the place because of his ability to work on important and interesting research, and was able to roll into an assistant adjunct position.

“His early work at the institute, in the lab of Dr. David Woodland, focused on the generation, maintenance and persistence of T cells to infections such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, influenza virus and herpes virus,” according to a Trudeau Institute press release.

Reiley said Trudeau Institute is “an amazing place to be able to do research.” He had never seen a place like it where research was so easy to do. At larger institutes, he said things can get “bogged down.” But here, he said communication and problem solving is simple.

“Moving things along for the good of science,” he called it.

But he would still like to grow Trudeau Institute. In 2006 he worked with around 120 people.

Then, in 2010, when a secret plan to move the headquarters to Florida was leaked by a former employee, there was a wave of resignations, according to Cain. Only after Kuki took the helm did the trend start to reverse, she said.

The institute has 64 employees now. Reiley said that number used to be lower and they’ve been “clawing” their way back over recent years. He hopes to return the institute to its former glory of putting more people to work on important high-end research.

“I know how important it is to retain these well-paid, highly skilled jobs in our communities,” Reiley, a Saranac Lake resident, said in a statement.

He’s now raised his family here and said he has a strong connection to his community.

Reiley said he loves his staff and the institute’s administration. Good leadership requires a good team, he said, from the top on down.

“Everyone here really cares,” Reiley said. “I really know I’m in good hands. … It’s really encouraging for me.”

Reiley said he has learned from each of the three directors he’s worked under, and now he’s amazed that he’s a director himself. Coming from the research field, he said he knows what his researchers need and he wants to find more funding sources for more research.

The institute was incorporated 140 years ago when Edward Livingston Trudeau launched the first American laboratory solely dedicated to tuberculosis research. It’s been at its current location for 60 years now.

“I’m so excited for the chance to lead us into the next 60 years,” Rieley said in a statement.


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