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Born Entrepreneur

Oncologist Michael Kurman '73 is a driving force behind Syracuse's Biology Advisory Board

Sep 2, 2014 | Article by: Laura Bulman

Photo of Michael Kurman

Michael Kurman '73


Michael Kurman ’73 has always had an entrepreneurial streak in him. When he isn’t developing cutting-edge oncology products, the New Jersey resident may be found raising awareness of and support for Syracuse University’s still-new Life Sciences Complex.

“Syracuse University provided me with a special experience that has stayed with me my entire life,” says Kurman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Syracuse’s College of Arts and Sciences. “I want to make sure current students have this kind of opportunity, if not a better one.”

Supporting his alma mater comes naturally to Kurman, a longtime member of Syracuse’s Biology Advisory Board. In this capacity, he advises the biology department’s leadership; facilitates professional and academic connections for students, faculty, and alumni; and advocates for the department and its activities, on and off campus.

To date, working on the Campaign for the Life Sciences—the largest capital project in University history--has been one of Kurman’s finest hours.

“The Life Sciences Complex is a vital instructional facility, a major research center, and a training ground for future scientists,” says Kurman, who runs an eponymously named company that provides strategic drug development and consulting services in the area of oncology (i.e., the branch of medicine dealing with tumors). “It’s a physical expression of the importance of the life sciences—biology, in particular—at Syracuse University.”

Kurman has spent the past two decades as a consultant to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and health care industries. After earning an M.D. from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, he served as an investigator in several oncology clinical trials, before going to work for multiple pharmaceutical companies.

“My primary interests are in early- and late-phase oncology clinical trial design and drug development, as well as strategic portfolio management,” says Kurman, who is board-certified in internal medicine and oncology.

Kurman traces his interest in oncology to Professor Thomas Arygis, a Syracuse biologist who instilled in him a passion for undergraduate research and with whom he published an article on cell growth and division.   

“As an 18-year-old, I was given a lot of freedom and responsibility to conduct research,” Kurman says. “I came to Syracuse University as a kid with big dreams; I quickly learned those dreams were possible. The faculty was incredibly supportive in fostering my dreams and helped me pursue them.”

As for his entrepreneurial streak, Kurman gives credit where credit is due. “There was a distinct expectation of excellence among my Syracuse professors,” he adds. “It put me on the right path for my medical school and post-medical school training, thus laying the foundation for a very satisfying career.
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Contact Information

Laura Bulman
315-443-8085
lbulman@syr.edu