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SCbio Names Connor Watkins to Lead Statewide Life Sciences Organization’s Marketing and Communications

A person in a suit and tie.

Former Nephron Pharmaceuticals professional takes reins as first full-time marketing leader, will lead efforts to support surging South Carolina life sciences industry

SOUTH CAROLINA – December 14, 2023 – Following a thorough search that considered marketing and communications professionals from across the region, SCbio has named Connor Watkins as its first full-time marketing director. He will assume his new duties on January 1, 2024.

Watkins joins SCbio from Nephron Pharmaceuticals where he led corporate events, community partnerships and sponsorships, and supported corporate communications initiatives for the West Columbia-based manufacturer. Nephron is a worldwide leader in production of generic respiratory and 503B outsourcing medications, ophthalmics and injectable medications, employing more than 1,200 associates.

While at Nephron, Watkins directed the production of corporate events, wrote and distributed corporate communications to state and national media, and created content for internal and external executive communications while working directly for Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy. Nephron is a Founding Partner of SCbio, while Mrs. Kennedy is a three-time Chair of the SCbio Board of Directors and currently serves on the organization’s Fiduciary and Operations Committee.

Prior to joining Nephron in 2021, Watkins served as Multimedia Strategist for the Lexington (S.C.) Chamber and Visitors Center, developing and implementing communications and marketing programs for the 800-member association. While with the Lexington Chamber, Watkins was honored with multiple awards for communications excellence by the Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication, as well as a graduate of Leadership Lexington County.

“SCbio and South Carolina life sciences are excited to welcome Connor to help lead and tell the story of this dynamic and forward-looking industry, and to help our hundreds of life sciences companies and thousands of employees and innovators continue to grow and prosper,” said James Chappell, CEO of SCbio.

“Competition for the position was extremely strong but we felt that his experience in life sciences coupled with his broad marketing and communications background were the precise mix we sought as we continue to build, advance and grow the industry here in South Carolina and sought to identify our first-ever full-time marketing director for the organization. We believe he will be a strong leader to lead SCbio marketing into the future.”

Watkins succeeds SCbio’s part-time marketing director of the past six years, Sam Patrick, who is ending his Patrick Marketing & Communications marketing consultancy after 15 years to spend time with family and friends, while engaging with select organizations in new ways.

South Carolina life sciences today is a $25.7 billion annual industry and growing faster than in any other Southeastern state. SCbio is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has more than 1,000 firms directly involved in the research, development, and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical devices, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products. Governor Henry McMaster has made life sciences a top state priority to continue to grow and expand the industry in the Palmetto State.

“While working at Nephron, I witnessed how the life sciences industry in South Carolina impacts and saves lives throughout our country,” said Watkins. “Our state has become an emerging leader in this industry and should be celebrated. I am excited to join the SCbio team and continue its great work in growing the life sciences industry.”

Since 2017, SCbio has seen its visibility skyrocket, its membership ranks soar and its revenues grow by more than 400%, implemented a strong economic development focus, and serves as the voice of the life sciences industry. SCbio has implemented multifaceted workforce development and entrepreneurship initiatives, created ongoing programs to encourage participation by women in life sciences, actively supports diversity-equity-inclusion initiatives and encourages student participation in the industry.

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Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.