Dr. C. David Adair (86) has worn many hats throughout his career: obstetrician, surgeon, medical school professor and, most recently, medical venture capital investor. No matter what role he’s been in, Adair said he owes all his success to the educational foundation he received at Morehead State.
A native of Pike County, Adair had always been fascinated with life sciences and earned a degree in biology. He received his degree in medicine from Marshall University, held a residency at the University of Florida College of Medicine in obstetrics/gynecology and was a fellow at Wake Forest University, specializing in maternal-fetal medicine. Adair completed his MBA at the University of Tennessee at Chatanooga last year.
Like many first-generation college students, when Adair first set foot on the MSU campus, he was filled with uncertainty.
“I came to Morehead (State) really scared,” he said. “There were a lot of smart people here, and I was worried about being accepted, I was worried I couldn’t compete.”
Adair said his professors at MSU gave him confidence and offered support and guidance when he needed it. Adair said he received support from several professors, but his work with Dr. Gerald DeMoss (66) helped him feel at home as an Eagle.
“He helped me, and that individual approach helped me realize that I did belong there, and I could compete,” he said. “Thank God I went to Morehead State; if I’d gone to EKU or UK or a bigger school, I’d have been lost.” Adair said he tried to incorporate the “humanistic” approach of his professors at MSU into his own time as a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Tennessee.
Adair said he knew high-risk maternal and fetal medicine would be his future the first time he delivered a baby in 1989.
“When that baby was born, it was like it was exploding with life,” he said. “I just think that’s the greatest calling in the world, to bring life into the world and to save lives that might otherwise be lost.”
Adair first got involved in the medical venture capital business about 15 years ago to bring new ideas to the medical field. The process begins when a medical company approached Adair’s firm with an idea. They present their ideas for drugs, devices and research, and the firm decides if the idea is a good opportunity for investment.
“It’s more complicated, but the best way I can describe it is, it’s like ‘Shark Tank’ on steroids,” Adair said. “We’re looking for game-changers, we’re looking for ideas that will bring innovation to medicine.”
Adair currently serves as managing partner and co-founder of Solas Bioventures and as founder and chief science officer of Glenveigh Medical, a pair of medical venture capital firms. He also serves on the boards of directors for several biomedical technology companies and other medical venture capital firms.
Adair has been involved in medical innovation since he helped develop a medication to treat preeclampsia, a dangerous and potentially fatal pregnancy complication. Other projects Adair is engaged in are a treatment for prostate cancer involving water vapor and a gastrointestinal drug that shows promising results in treating obesity and diabetes. Adair said he’s proud of the work he did as a researcher and hopes to help many more people by helping fund innovative treatments.
“If I died today, those endeavors would carry on and help people,” he said. “We have to bring innovative ideas to medicine, but we can’t let technology and innovation remove the humanity from treating patients. They’re not a number or a machine, that’s a real person.”
Adair was inducted into the Morehead State University Alumni Hall of Fame in 2009 and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science in 2013.