Healthcare Leader: Kris Kimel, Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation

Kris Kimel

President of Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, Founder of Kentucky Space and Exomedicine Institute and Co-Founder of Space Tango

Education: Master’s Degree from the University Kentucky

Hobbies: Reading, running and playing tennis.


What was your first job in healthcare?  What did you take away from that job that you use today?

In my position with the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC), I have been involved with a range of health and biomedical R&D projects and companies. Now, through our work in space including the Exomedicine Institute, I am directly engaged in working with biomedical professionals and entrepreneurs from around the world, understanding disease processes and pursuing novel solutions in the microgravity environment of space for applications on Earth.

How do you approach management and leadership in your organization?

We employ a very open and flat management strategy that encourages disruptive thinking, creativity, delegated decision making and group/individual accountability to achieve success.

As a leader, we all face many challenges.  What challenges do you face in your role that are unique because you work in healthcare?

The speed at which new information is developed and technology is coming on-line presents enormous research, execution and competitive pressures on every aspect of the enterprise. These challenges are compounded by the fact that in the case of Exomedicine we are fundamentally engaged in a new frontier of biomedicine. The big question we are pursuing the answer for … “What if the next breakthrough in medicine isn’t on the planet Earth?”

What was the most significant event/development in your company in 2015?

The final design and manufacture of Tango Lab-1, a fully automated R&D technology platform that is to be permanently installed on the International Space Station (ISS) in March 2016.

What opportunities do you see for your company in 2016? 

The installation of Tango Lab-1 Lab on ISS will exponentially increase our research and thus commercialization opportunities.

If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry’s problems overnight, which would it be?

The vast myriad of inefficiencies.

How do you revitalize yourself?

Reading, running, spending time alone and taking part in the IdeaFestival, where I get to surround myself with all sorts of interesting people and ideas.

What’s one piece of advice you remember most clearly?

There is no such thing as useless knowledge.

What is your very best skill — the thing that sets you apart from others?

This is a tough question. An openness and ability to work with different types of people and skills is critical.  Being a convergent thinker…involving the ability to identify, synthesize and apply a broad range of ideas and information from different domains is important as well.  Also employing a leadership style that embraces an empower and persuade approach over one of command and control (while it can take a certain amount of patience at times) in the long run is the best way to maximize the talents of people.

Where do you do your best thinking?

Creative thinking is not limited to a particular time or place for me. It can emerge when I am alone thinking about a problem, running or just daydreaming. I also find working with colleagues in a dynamic format where ideas and different perspectives collide in often unique and surprising ways to be very productive.