The Hub


Leadership of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter is drawn from the best and brightest of biomedical, business innovation and real estate development in North Carolina.

Eric Tomlinson, DSc, PhD
President, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter
Chief Innovation Officer, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Eric Tomlinson, DSc, PhD, became President of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and Chief Innovation Officer for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in July 2012. His focus is to accelerate the creation and commercialization of innovative products, discoveries, and services arising from the clinical and academic base at the Medical Center and Wake Forest University, and on developing a new hub for science and business innovation in biomedical and materials technology and information science centered on the Innovation Quarter. Dr. Tomlinson is a scientific and business leader who has worked both in early-stage and clinical-stage biotechnology companies and within a global pharmaceutical company. He has built companies and teams from their inception to their development of biological and small drug/device combination products and gene therapy products. He has transacted mergers of publicly traded companies and raised private and public equity corporate financings, in addition to broad-based product licensing and commercialization agreements with major pharmaceutical companies. He is also a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

John McConnell, MD
CEO, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

In 2008, John D. McConnell, MD, was named as the first chief executive officer in the history of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, an integrated, academic medical center that, with close to 13,000 employees, is the largest employer in the Piedmont Triad. As CEO, Dr. McConnell oversees the clinical, research and academic enterprise for Wake Forest Baptist. Dr. McConnell came to Winston-Salem from Dallas, where he was executive vice president of health system affairs at University of Texas Southwestern beginning in 2003. In that position, he had overall responsibility for UT Southwestern’s university hospitals and clinics as well as the faculty physician practice. A noted urologist who joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 1984, Dr. McConnell held a number of clinical as well as administrative posts at UT Southwestern, including urology department chair, prostate disease center director, vice president for clinical programs and executive vice president for administration. During his tenure as chair of urology, Dr. McConnell’s department was ranked in the NIH top 10 funding list. His own research accomplishments were recognized by his election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Graydon Pleasants
Real Estate Development, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Mr. Pleasants leads site development and infrastructure for the Innovation Quarter. He was the co-founder of Meridian Realty Group in 1986, and by 1990 Meridian was the top commercial brokerage firm in Winston-Salem. After divesting his interest in Meridian, he formed and managed Forsyth Partners Brokerage, which became Carter of the Carolinas, a partnership with Carter of Atlanta. This company became the first full-service commercial real estate provider in the area with offices in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte. Mr. Pleasants also later helped form Magnolia Partners, developer for One West Fourth Street, a 430,000-square-foot, Class A office building in downtown Winston-Salem. He now owns Pleasants Properties and also serves in various community leadership positions and with numerous economic development professional organizations in Winston-Salem.