TMSAtalks Session: A Career in Science – A Straight Line or an Exciting Evolution

By Rahul Bhatia – Director, TMSAtalks

On Thursday, October 12, 2017, TMSAtalks invited Dr. Mark Dibner, the Founder and Board Member at Kramden Institute, as well as President of BioAbility, to kick off this year's TMSAtalks sessions.

Mark D. Dibner, PhD & MBA, has had a broad career in the practice and business of science.  A Neuropharmacologist for 10 years, he then switched to helping start and grow the biotechnology industry in NC, throughout the USA, and in other countries.  For the last 14 years, he has been the founder and chairman of Kramden Institute, refurbishing and awarding PCs to students lacking a home computer.

Here is a summary of Dr. Dibner's story:

Dr. Dibner gave the high school students at TMSA the following 5 adages that have guided him throughout his life:


1       Sometimes in life, important, but unexpected, opportunities come along. The trick is to recognize them and take advantage of them.

2       You can achieve things in life by finishing what you start.

3       Find things that you enjoy and that interest you. It makes you look forward to each day ahead.

4       If you don't ask, you don't get.

5       Be willing to think and live outside the box.

To begin with, Dr. Dibner started out with his pre-med, and although he was involved in many things, he ended up in Physiological Psychology. He was a Neuroscience major at Cornell University. He then earned his Ph.D. in Developmental Neuroscience.

And then the unexpected happenedDupont offered to pay for all of Dr. Dibner's research. They were so impressed with his work and the papers he had written that they actually decided to hire him!

Dr. Dibner's luck continued. North Carolina was just starting a Biotechnology Center. He joined them and ended his days as a lab scientist. Dr. Dibner then became even luckier! A friend had arranged a breakfast with the Duke Business School Dean, and because of this, another career facet was launched. After 8 years at NC Biotech, the Duke Business School faculty asked him to teach Entrepreneurship classes.

Dr. Dibner then decided to start his own company. BioAbility was born in 1994. Throughout the next 20 years, he and his team worked to help build the biotech industry in NC all over again.

Of course, the unexpected happened again! Dr. Dibner's son Ned decided that he wanted to refurbish and donate some old computers to some of the kids in his school that didn't have one. This resulted in Kramden Institute's birth in June 2003.

Since inception, Kramden has awarded more than 29,000 computers to students across 81 of North Carolina's counties to date. They have partnered with many schools, other non-profits, and military aid organizations across the state to award computers to those in need.

To learn more about Kramden Institute and volunteer, visit:

To learn more about TMSAtalks, visit: