• October 2020

Five questions with Dr. Mark Brown


Dr. Mark Brown became President and CEO of the USD Discovery District in early 2020. He is trained as a molecular oncologist and has spent about 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry and as Head for Global Health and Health Disparities at Colorado State. Over the course of his career, Mark has developed a range of therapeutics with oncology and infectious disease applications. Before moving to Sioux Falls, Mark and his wife, Alicia, ran a small cattle ranch in northern Colorado. They have two sons, Everett (4) and Henry (1).

Q: As a newcomer to Sioux Falls, what is your favorite thing about the area so far?

A: My family and I have appreciated the ease and quality of life in this community. We also appreciate the family-focused culture of Sioux Falls and the warm welcome we've received.

Q: What attracted you to the position with the Discovery District?

A: It's difficult to explain…. I was being considered for other types of executive positions and was contacted about considering this job opening. I didn't think I was interested and ignored it. It took three contacts before I finally responded. Once my wife and I researched the Sioux Falls community, we were convinced that this was a great place to raise our family.

Q: Describe your vision for the Discovery District.

A: I'm on a mission to make Sioux Falls our country's next major pharmaceutical hub. By accomplishing this, we'll bring new, high-paying jobs to the community, we'll help to stop the mass exodus of the pharmaceutical industry from the U.S., we'll help bring down the exorbitantly high costs of prescription therapeutics, and we'll place South Dakota on the national stage as an integral part of our nation's capacity for biodefense and the development of life-saving therapeutics.

Q: What are some ways to strengthen connections between the research community and the broader business community?

A: Researchers often fail to recognize the importance of distilling the technical details of their innovations and presenting the real impact and significance of their work to non-scientists. I've spent much of my career serving as an interpreter, of sorts, between researchers and business leaders.

Q: Name a tool could you not live without. Why?

A: How could I live without my Boy Scouts of America-issued multipurpose knife that was given to me when I earned the rank of Eagle Scout? It's been essential for me on hunting/fishing excursions, working cattle fences, opening bottles, fixing my son's bike…. It does everything.


More Questions

Q: How did you choose your profession?

A: I was initially attracted to this profession after reading a book that documented some of the early pioneers of cancer research. I was fascinated with process of drug development and set-out to launch a career in oncology.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received?

A: Trust God and be thankful.

Q: What is a skill that you'd like to learn and why?

A: I've always wanted to learn to weld. It's one of the most practical skillsets.

Q: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?

A: When I started college, my plan was to be a Game Warden. My dad was a 40-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department and I thought it would be a good way to carry-on his legacy as a Peace Officer. My family is still baffled by how I made the jump from wildlife biology to oncology.

Q: If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be and why?

A: I'd like to go back as an adult and spend an afternoon fishing with my paternal grandfather. I've learned so much, as an adult, from my other grandparents but I was only six when my dad's dad passed away.

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