Dr. Eric Toone joined Breakthrough Energy Ventures as executive managing director and science lead in 2017. The investor-led fund was created by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which billionaire Bill Gates established to develop new energy technology.
From 2013 to 2017, Professor Toone served as vice provost and director of the Duke University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, a program designed to foster entrepreneurship across the entire university community.
Dr. Toone began his career at Duke in 1990, and during that time he authored nearly 300 original papers, reviews, book chapters and abstracts in physical organic and biophysical chemistry. He is also listed as an inventor on more than 30 patents in a range of biomedical fields and is a scientific founder of two research-based pharmaceutical companies, Aerie Pharmaceuticals and Vindica Pharmaceuticals, focused on ophthalmology and therapeutic administration of nitric oxide, respectively. From 2009 to 2012, Professor Toone was detailed to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). During that time, he served both as program director and deputy director for technology before leaving the agency in 2012 to return to Duke. As program director, Dr. Toone devised and implemented ARPA-E’s Electrofuels program, which explores the use of non-photosynthetic autotrophic organisms for the production of energy-dense, infrastructure-compatible liquid fuels.
Dr. Toone received his doctoral degree in organic chemistry from the University of Toronto in 1988 and completed post-doctoral studies with Professor George Whitesides at Harvard University in 1990. He earned his master’s at the University of Toronto and his bachelor’s from the University of Guelph.