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HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology mourns death of co-founder Lonnie McMillian

Lonnie McMillian, HudsonAlpha board of directors co-chair, sits at his desk in his office, with a image of his own DNA hanging on the wall in his office at Hudson-Alpha Monday, March 21, 2011 in Huntsville, Ala. (The Huntsville Times/Eric Schultz)

Huntsville, Ala. (January 2, 2019) – The team at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology mourns the passing of an inspirational leader, Lonnie McMillian, the co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Institute.

McMillian died on Sunday, a spokesperson told WHNT News 19, who reported the family would hold a private funeral service.

McMillian was a founder of ADTRAN, a leading global provider of networking and communications equipment. When he retired from the company in 2001, he worked with longtime friend Jim Hudson to create HudsonAlpha.

Lonnie McMillian, HudsonAlpha board of directors co-chair, sits at his desk in his office, with a image of his own DNA hanging on the wall in his office at Hudson-Alpha Monday, March 21, 2011 in Huntsville, Ala. (The Huntsville Times/Eric Schultz)

The pair set out to develop a unique vision — a nonprofit institute that could combine the power of academic research with the resources of the commercial sector to bring discoveries to market quicker. Their focus was to deliver better medical care to people everywhere. McMillian and Hudson’s belief in the Institute and their devotion to its success have impacted countless lives the world over, through advancements in diagnosis, treatment and our fundamental understanding of the genome.

“Lonnie was so deeply humble,” Hudson said of his friend, “that not many people have a true scope of how much he gave to the world. The Institute is only one example, and I feel blessed for the opportunity to have worked on it with him. He will be dearly missed.”

“He was an innovator,” said Rick Myers, PhD, president of HudsonAlpha. “Lonnie was a visionary and a gift to all of us that knew him — and many more who were impacted by his generosity without ever realizing it. We have our work cut out for us to live up to his legacy.”

McMillian was a generous philanthropist, and he lived out his commitment to improving the human condition through support of educational, scientific and other charitable causes. Many of his gifts will never be recognized due to his desire for anonymity.

He also offered his personal guidance and friendship to many, developing leaders and sharing wisdom. He had an open door to entrepreneurs from across the region. “He had a servant’s heart,” noted Brian Pollock, CEO of Kailos Genetics. “I can’t think of many people who offered so much of themselves. Lonnie quietly and humbly set a vision that is timeless, not just for HudsonAlpha but for everyone that knew him, on how to live and treat others.”

“We at HudsonAlpha are proud to see Lonnie McMillian’s legacy resonate far beyond the Institute to the many individuals and organizations that he positively impacted. His humble and generous spirit sets a benchmark for us all,” the team noted.

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About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning, and commercialization. Opened in 2008, HudsonAlpha’s vision is to leverage the synergy between discovery, education, medicine, and economic development in genomic sciences to improve the human condition around the globe. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. The state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and includes more than 30 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit hudsonalpha.org.