Influential person: Dr. Don Brown

Tech entrepreneur and philanthropist

Serial entrepreneur Dr. Don Brown considers one of his greatest achievements to be proving, by his very success, that Indiana possesses the talent and infrastructure to produce world-class homegrown tech firms.

“We put together some extraordinary teams that competed against Silicon Valley companies and other tech giants, when a lot of people didn’t think that was possible,” Brown said. “We validated that it could be done.”

The first three companies he founded were acquired for large sums, including Software Artistry, which IBM purchased for $200 million in 1997. Most famously, Interactive Intelligence was acquired by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories in 2016 for $1.4 billion. His fourth startup, LifeOmic, uses IT to advance development of precision health care, giving physicians a much more nuanced overview of the health of specific patients.

But for Brown, a doctor himself, his interest in health care doesn’t end there. He also donated $30 million to establish Indiana University’s Brown Center for Immunotherapy. The seeds were planted half a decade ago, when Brown decided it would be “fun” to enroll in a graduate program in biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University. There, he became intrigued by the study of immunotherapy—the use of the body’s own immune system to battle cancer.

“There’s a growing realization that our immune systems are the most effective mechanism for dealing with cancer,” Brown said. “I’m just very passionate about helping people live healthier lives. Anything we can do to improve health care, especially for the poor, is something I deeply care about.”

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