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His story – and why he’s sticking to it

April 15, 2014
John McKearn

John McKearn

John McKearn, a prominent NIU alumnus and leader in the prescription drug industry, will speak at the Last Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.

The Last Lecture Series, sponsored by the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society, is free and open to the public. It is based on the book “The Last Lecture,” coauthored by Randy Pausch, who wrote a final lecture after learning that he had pancreatic cancer.

The student-nominated speaker is given the opportunity to deliver what would hypothetically be a final speech before dying. The speech is designed to encourage and inspire the audience. McKearn will speak on “My Story and Why I’m Sticking to It,” followed by a reception.

McKearn has served as a board member of seven biotech companies and an adviser to several biotech investor groups, and he has founded several companies. He is currently a general partner and managing director of RiverVest Venture Partners, one of the world’s most successful venture capital firms.

He is an accomplished drug developer in the prescription industry with experience “from the trenches to the top.” With more than 70 peer-reviewed scientific publications and an equal number of patents and patent applications, he has helped create important medicines, such as Celebrex, Sutent, Arthrotec and Daypro.

RiverVest logoHe earned his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from NIU in 1975 and a doctorate from the University of Chicago and completed a post-doctorate fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis.

At NIU, McKearn funded the McKearn Summer Research Fellows Program, a distinctive summer academic enrichment and professional development program that promotes research/artistry design, effective writing, leadership development and civic, social and global engagement. McKearn and his wife, Cassandra, hope “to create a more enriched, more varied and more world-balanced educational experience.”

Besides generously supporting the Huskies, McKearn is an ardent fan of the Dave Matthews Band, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago White Sox.

The Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center is located at 231 N. Annie Glidden Road. For more information on the Aprill 22 event, email [email protected].