ASHLAND – James E. Hagstrom, a former Ashland resident who has been a part of one of Wisconsin’s biggest tech-based business stories in 2008, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Lake Superior Technology Conference.

Hagstrom is the co-founder and vice president of scientific operations at Mirus Bio Corp. in Madison, which is being acquired by Roche Holdings of Switzerland for an announced price of $125 million. Hagstrom, a 1977 graduate of Ashland High School, will speak 9:15 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, 2100 Beaser Ave.

The conference begins 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6 with a reception and networking event at the Hotel Chequamegon, 101 Lakeshore Drive West. It will be immediately followed by a 7 p.m., cruise of Ashland harbor departing from the hotel’s dock.

General registration for the conference is $50 ($35 for WIN members, $15 for students) and includes the reception, cruise and all Aug. 7 events and meals. Register online through noon Aug. 5 at or at the event.

Hagstrom holds a B.S. degree in biology from the UW-Eau Claire and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Mayo School of Medicine, doing post-doctoral work at the University of California, San Diego. He was a research fellow at the UW-Madison until 1996, when he helped to co-found Mirus Bio. Mirus has developed a technique that targets specific cells with a genetic “silencing switch” known as RNA interference, which blocks the production of disease-causing proteins inside those cells. The technique may have applications in a wide variety of human diseases. Roche, a major pharmaceutical firm, purchased Mirus in part to acquire that technology.

“Jim Hagstrom is a veteran of the tech-based economy in Madison, and he understands what it takes to launch and grow a company. He will also provide unique insights into what it will take to grow companies in northwest Wisconsin,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council.

The conference is being produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council, the Wisconsin Innovation Network Lake Superior Chapter and other Lake Superior region partners. It will include four panel discussions, each of which will be repeated:

?      Eco-Industrial development
?      Trends in alternative energy and biofuels
?      Regional economic development models
?      Education as an economic driver

WIN is the membership subsidiary of the Wisconsin Technology Council, the science and tech policy advisers to the governor and the Legislature. To join WIN, go to or call Liz Katz at 608-442-7557, ext. 27.