INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana University Associate Vice President for Clinical Affairs Anantha Shekhar is the 2018 Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year. BioCrossroads made the announcement today at its annual Life Sciences Summit in Indianapolis. Shekhar is leading the $120 million Precision Health Grand Challenges effort. Also at today's event, the state's life sciences initiative announced the $9 million Indiana Seed Fund III, focused on Indiana-based life sciences, health IT and agbiosciences companies.

BioCrossroads says, under Shekhar's leadership, IU School of Medicine total research funding has hit $339 million, including a 33 percent ump in National Institutes of Health Funding. He is also founding director of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute,which is a partnership among IU, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame focused on improving Indiana health.

The award is named for BioCrossroads' late Chairman August Watanabe. Previous winners include former Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) Chief Executive Officer John Lechleiter, Cook Group founder Bill Cook and Biomet founder Dane A. Miller.

Indiana Seed Fund III boasts investors including Eli Lilly, Indiana University, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Regenstrief Foundation, Walther Foundation, Notre Dame, Walther Foundation and BioCrossroads for-profit affiliate BCI, which manages the fund. It has already made two investments: $500,000 to Scioto Biosciences, which is developing microbiome therapy technology and $250,000 in Animated Dynamics, which is a Purdue-based startup working on a diagnostic test for chemotherapy sensitivity.

Since 2005, BioCrossroads says it has raised nearly $25 million in seed funding and invested in 24 startups, including Shekhar's startup Anagin, which is developing treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder.