From Academia to Entrepreneurship

by BOB KRONEMYER | illustrated by BRIANNA ASHBY

Eugene A. Bauer, ’67 MD

Over the past 15 years, Eugene A. Bauer, ’67 MD, has transitioned from academic dermatologist and dean of a top medical school to healthcare entrepreneur, and launched two dermatology companies.

In fact, even before Bauer served as dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, from 1995 to 2001, he helped found Connectics Corporation, a dermatology company with a platform technology for delivering skin disease products that was eventually acquired by Stiefel Laboratories Inc.

“Shifting from academia to entrepreneurship was not hard at all,” says Bauer, who received Northwestern’s Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award in 2012.

Bauer gives high marks to Northwestern for preparing him to become a broadly thinking individual. “I always believed that being a physician would provide me multiple opportunities to go in one direction or another, or multiple directions,” he says.

After stepping down as dean of Stanford Medicine, Bauer took time off to plan his next move.

“I took a deep breath,” says Bauer, now 75. “My wife Gloria and I left the Bay Area and moved to a house in Oregon, literally on the water, with nothing between us and China but about 5,000 miles of water.”

While in Oregon, Bauer helmed an executive search practice for Korn Ferry International. “Basically, I searched for deans and heads of hospitals at academic medical centers,” he explains.

I always believed that being a physician would provide me multiple opportunities to go in one direction or another.

Soon afterward, in 2003, the couple moved to Pasadena to be closer to Korn Ferry’s headquarters in Los Angeles. The next year, Bauer became the founding CEO of a startup dermatology company, Neosil Inc., which developed a treatment to promote hair growth in male pattern baldness, as well as a potent topical antimicrobial drug for certain kinds of skin infections.

In 2008, Neosil was acquired by Australian-based Peplin Inc., and Bauer became president and chief medical officer of Peplin, in charge of developing a novel treatment for actinic keratosis, a type of skin lesion caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

A year later, Peplin was taken over by Leo Pharma A/S in Denmark. “The product we developed is now an important treatment for actinic keratosis here in the United States,” Bauer conveys.

In 2010, Bauer co-founded another dermatology firm, Dermira Inc., which was publicly listed in 2014 on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. The three products in development are a biologic agent for psoriasis, a topical liquid wipe for the often highly debilitating hyperhidrosis and a totally novel topical acne agent.

Bauer, who continues to serve full time as chief medical officer for Dermira, has no timetable to retire. His wife Gloria, 73, says that her husband once told her that if he ever retired, “He would be like an Irish Setter in a closet. Gene has so much energy that it would drive him crazy. I suspect he will retire the day before he dies.”

Married in 1966, the year after they met at Northwestern, the couple has resided in San Rafael in Marin County, north of San Francisco, since 2005.

Gloria Bauer, ’67 diploma in nursing

Gloria Bauer graduated from Northwestern’s now-disbanded nursing program in 1967, the same year her husband graduated from medical school. “This was back in the Stone Age, when you got a three-year diploma in nursing. It was effectively a trade school without a degree program,” she says. “In fact, I have outlived the building in which I was trained, Passavant Memorial Hospital.”

Nonetheless, Northwestern taught Gloria “not what to think, but how to think,” she says.

After graduation, Gloria worked one year at public St. Louis City Hospital in Missouri. “It was an incredible training ground, although I was pregnant with my first child at the time.” Gloria was employed in clinical nursing at nearby Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University from 1968 to 1971, where she was exposed to specialties ranging from orthopedics to plastic surgery. She retired from nursing after the birth of the couple’s second child.

“However, I kept my license active and did some private duty through Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital while Gene was in the navy,” she recounts.

Through the years, Gloria has done volunteer outreach for chemical dependency. “I have been very open about my alcoholism,” she says. “I became sober in 1988.” She is also a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and sits on the board of HealthRIGHT 360, an organization in San Francisco that addresses chemical dependency and psychiatric disorders, as well as homelessness and free clinics. Previously, Gloria served on the board of the Women’s Recovery Association.

The Bauers, who have raised four children, say their closest friends from medical school and nursing school are still their closest friends.

1993

Founded Connectics Corporation

1995 – 2001

Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine

2002

Led executive search practice for Korn Ferry International

2004

Founded Neosil Inc. and led as CEO

2008

President and chief medical officer of Peplin Inc.

2010

Founded Demira Inc. and began serving as chief medical officer