Seattle, WA – September 15, 2022

Washington Research Foundation (WRF), a leader in advancing life sciences in Washington state, announces Tom Daniel, Ph.D., as chief executive officer. This appointment follows the retirement of Ron Howell, who served in the position for nearly three decades. Daniel will join WRF on October 1, relieving interim CEO Susan Coliton, WRF’s director and grants committee chair, who has overseen operations since July 2021.

“Tom’s history of conducting trailblazing science, combined with his notable efforts in mentoring scholars from diverse backgrounds, epitomizes WRF’s ethos of investing in innovative research and people,” said Brooks Simpson, WRF board chair. “We look forward to his leadership and future success as he takes the helm of WRF.”

Daniel has a rich history in the life sciences sector, with deep ties to the University of Washington (UW) and WRF. After a Doctoral Degree in Biology at Duke and postdoctoral training in engineering sciences at Caltech, Daniel joined the Biology faculty at UW in 1984. He held the Joan and Richard Komen Endowed Chair, as well as adjunct appointments in Computer Science and Engineering, Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering until transitioning to emeritus faculty status earlier this month. As chair of UW’s Biology department, he worked with the late Benjamin D. Hall, Ph.D., to establish student scholarships and support. Hall was a UW professor who invented the expression of polypeptides in yeast technology that was pivotal to WRF’s licensing program and has had an enormous impact on vaccines and public health.

“Washington Research Foundation has the unique ability to advance some of the most innovative life sciences research happening in our state, with a model that takes research from bench or computer to positively impact the health and welfare of our communities, as well as the fabric of science in the Northwest,” said Daniel. “I am humbled and eager to carry on the legacy of the visionaries who established WRF more than 40 years ago.”

As CEO, Daniel will work with the board of directors to lead the Foundation’s strategic planning, programs, grant-making and investment affairs.

“I’m thrilled that Tom will be joining WRF as CEO!” said Thomas Cable, co-founder of WRF. “I’ve known him for years and he has the leadership qualities, scientific background, imagination and creativity to successfully leverage the assets of WRF for the benefit of life sciences research and technology commercialization in our state.”

Throughout his career, Daniel has published more than 100 research papers and conference abstracts. He has received numerous awards and honors including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, as well as the UW Distinguished Teaching Award and the Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. He is a member of the Washington Academy of Sciences and serves on the federal advisory committee for the NSF Biological Sciences Directorate, the board of directors for Allen Institute and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and directs the UW Weill Neurohub program. Through his lab, Daniel mentored more than 100 students and scholars with a focus on championing diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

To learn more about Washington Research Foundation, visit


About Washington Research Foundation

Washington Research Foundation (WRF) supports research and scholarship in Washington state, with a focus on life sciences and enabling technologies.

WRF was founded in 1981 to assist universities and other nonprofit research institutions in Washington with the commercialization and licensing of their technologies. WRF is one of the foremost technology transfer and grant-making organizations in the nation, having earned more than $445 million in licensing revenue for the University of Washington and providing over $137 million in grants to the state’s research institutions to date.

WRF Capital, a reserve pool of funds that Washington Research Foundation invests in local early-stage companies, has backed 119 startups since 1996. Returns support WRF’s investment and grant-making programs.


Jacque Gairrett, Fearey

(206) 343-1543