• Dr. Robert Karr
    Dr. Robert Karr

Dr. Robert W. Karr, a former pharmaceutical company executive and biotechnology entrepreneur, has been named the new chair of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees.

He succeeds Merriman Morton, an Austin banker who served as chair of the board since 2006.

Karr graduated from Southwestern in 1971 with a degree in biology. He received his medical degree from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 1975.

After completing an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in rheumatology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Karr accepted a faculty position at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. He later moved back to St. Louis to conduct pharmaceutical research for G.D. Searle Corp. and served in increasingly responsible positions in the company.

In 1999 Karr was recruited to lead a strategic planning group within Research and Development at Warner-Lambert. In 2000, Pfizer Inc. − the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company − acquired Warner-Lambert, and Karr was selected to lead the R&D Strategic Management Group at Pfizer’s R&D headquarters in Connecticut, where he helped integrate the two companies’ R&D divisions and set new division strategy.

Karr retired from Pfizer in 2004, but continued to work as a biotech consultant and entrepreneur and to serve as a board member for two public biotech companies. At one of those companies, Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Karr also served as its president from 2005 to 2007.

Karr has been a member of the Southwestern University Board of Trustees since 2006. He also is a member of the Campaign Cabinet for Thinking Ahead: The Southwestern Campaign and served as chair of the Trustee committee that developed Southwestern’s strategic plan for 2020.

“There is no one better qualified to chair Southwestern’s Board than Bob Karr,” said President Jake B. Schrum. “I look forward to working with him to advance Southwestern to new heights.”

Karr lives in St. Louis and is married to 1971 Southwestern graduate Jean Gibson Karr. The couple has two daughters – Courtney and Lee Ann.