Fort Worth Biotech Innovator Honored With Lifetime Achievement Award for Vision Research and Philanthropy

Former Alcon executive and Bios Partners co-founder Stella Robertson was recently awarded by the ARVO Foundation, recognizing a lifetime of work in vision research and philanthropy. Her vast expertise and guidance have been instrumental in helping countless entrepreneurs and startups in emerging technology.

Longtime Fort Worth biotech innovator and investor Stella Robertson has been honored with a 2023 ARVO Foundation award recognizing her lifetime of work in vision research and philanthropy.

Robertson’s expertise and guidance has helped countless entrepreneurs and start-ups, making her a true inspiration in biotech and the field of ophthalmology. The award was given “in recognition for her long-standing support of the Women in Eye and Vision Research (WEAVR) initiative and her generous philanthropic support of the foundation.”

The ARVO Foundation is the philanthropic arm of ARVO (The Association of Research in Vision and Ophthalmology). WEAVR is the Foundation initiative supporting women in vision research.

Robertson and Suchi Acharya, founder and CEO of Ayuvis Research in Fort Worth, were speakers at ARVO’s B2B education course this year. The course, Bench to Bedside, is a translational research and pitch workshop for ARVO members.

From leading R&D to focusing on startups

“I have always wanted my research to make a difference in people’s lives, to solve problems and help them have a better life,” Robertson said in an Arvo Q&A in 2019.

The scientist is known for her work at Fort Worth-based Alcon where she launched roughly 17 products, and is co-founder at Bios Partners, a venture capital firm focusing on life sciences based in the city. Bios Partners was founded in 2015 by Robertson, along with managing partners Aaron G.L. Fletcher and Les Kreis.

With over 25 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development, she has a wealth of knowledge to share. 

During her time at Alcon, where she was vice president in R&D at Alcon Laboratories, Inc., a division of Novartis, she grew and led organizations responsible for the ophthalmic pipeline, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Robertson developed some of the first human ocular cell lines used for drug discovery and successfully launched sixteen ophthalmic medications to treat ocular allergy, pain, inflammation, glaucoma, uveitis, and infection.

Her research interests are diverse, ranging from local immune and inflammatory mechanisms to diagnostics and drug delivery. Robertson is a published author and also holds several patents.

The scientist received a Ph.D. in biology-immunology from Johns Hopkins University, was an Arthritis Foundation postdoctoral research fellow at UTHSC Dallas, and completed the Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School.

Today, as the founder of Arrochar Consulting, Robertson specializes in due diligence, translational research, product development and life sciences, providing support to entrepreneurs and start ups in emerging technology.

Robertson’s passion for helping others extends beyond her consulting work. She volunteers and mentors with TECH Fort Worth, a local non-profit incubator/accelerator, and local university entrepreneurial program. She also serves as a corporate board member, board observer, and scientific advisor for early-stage companies. In addition, Robertson is a member and investor with Cowtown Angels, an angel investment network based in Fort Worth.

My focus now is on giving back,” according to the ARVO Q&A. Her dedication to the field is apparent through her involvement in various organizations such as Women in Ophthalmology and ARVO (IM section). She’s served on multiple committees and sits on the ARVO Foundation Board. 

Robertson is credited with expanding the research and entrepreneurial community in Fort Worth and encouraging students to stay in STEM education. Her advice to young women scientists is to get the best training in their chosen field, find something that makes them feel fulfilled, and persevere through many “no’s” in their careers, she said in the Q&A.

“A career in research is a life choice,” Robertson has advised. But, she adds, “don’t forget to take time for yourself and family. Together you will delight in and discover the world, nature, and research again through their eyes.”

Quincy Preston contributed to this report.

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