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His Story & Why He’s Sticking to It

April 18th, 2014
John McKearn

John McKearn

John McKearn, a prominent 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.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University and a doctorate from the University of Chicago and completed a post-doctorate fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis.

John and Cassandra McKearn, generously support the McKearn Fellows Program– a program designed to give NIU students engaged learning and networking opportunities. The couple also provide support for the university’s new mascot–Mission. John McKearn joined the NIU Foundation Board in October of 2013 and is already an active member of its grants committee.

When he’s not cheering on his beloved Huskies, McKearn is an ardent fan of the Dave Matthews Band, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago White Sox.