Ellen Purpus

Assistant Vice President, Enterprise & Innovation
Ellen Purpus


As assistant vice president for enterprise and innovation, Ellen Purpus oversees the development of enhanced enterprise and commercialization services on campus including technology-transfer functions such as patents, licensing, agreements, startups, spin-offs and corporate relations. Also reporting to Purpus are Grace Chou, Ph.D., director of the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center, Tom Simpkins, interim director of Nevada Industry Excellence (NVIE), and Carlos Cardillo, Ph.D., director of Nevada Center for Applied Research (NCAR). NVIE, the state of Nevada’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership hosted by the University, helps Nevada companies by providing resources to improve processes, efficiencies and productivity. NCAR is a stand-alone applied-research and technology center focused on making Nevada businesses internationally competitive by leveraging the laboratories and intellectual assets of the University.

Purpus oversees the Sierra Accelerator for Growth & Entrepreneurship (SAGE), a state and federally funded state-wide program aimed at assisting faculty and small businesses with obtaining SBIR/STTR grants.

Purpus built and organized the infrastructure for the Nevada Research & Innovation Corporation (NVRIC), a non-profit corporation created solely to benefit the University and streamline commercialization of university innovations.  She acts as NVRIC’s vice president and secretary and works with Mridul Gautam, Ph.D., NVRIC’s president and vice president for research and innovation for the University, and with a board of directors comprised of business leaders and University faculty and officials.

Purpus specializes in the protection and commercialization of discoveries. She is a frequent speaker for the Association of University Technology Managers American Association and an active member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and other organizations working to advance research and discoveries.

Purpus earned her bachelor's degree in biology at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, and her doctorate in pathology and cell biology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. She went on to complete a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship in experimental immunology at the National Cancer Institute and interned at the NIH Office of Technology Transfer in Bethesda, MD.

Her career progressed through roles at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, where she was a business licensing associate; Indiana University in Bloomington where she was director of biotechnology and director of the Life Sciences Office of Technology Transfer; and The Ohio State University where her roles included director and interim associate vice president of the Office of Technology Licensing.

At the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Purpus provided leadership to the development of corporate sponsored research and clinical-trial agreements. She oversaw creation of the hospital's first startup and was integral to the hospital's participation in the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation network, a collaboration model created by Pfizer to bring together academic researchers and industry scientists to expedite the translation of biomedical discoveries into clinical treatments.


Ph.D., Pathology & Cell Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, 1993
B.S., Biology, Ball State University, 1984