Capers McDonald

Capers McDonaldGraduation Year: 1974

Degree at Duke:
Bachelor of Science

Biomedical Engineering

Career Highlights:

  • President and Chief Executive Officer of BioReliance Corporation


Take your four years at engineering school to broaden yourself; explore coursework outside of your department, meet people different from you and take opportunities to experiment.

Capers W. McDonald, President and Chief Executive Officer of BioReliance Corporation since 1992, graduated from Duke University in 1974 with a Bachelors degree in engineering. After moving on to earn a Masters degree in engineering from MIT (1976), an MBA from Harvard Business School (1983), and establishing himself as a successful corporate leader, community member and family man, McDonald proudly admits, “I still bleed Duke Blue after all these years.”

McDonald describes his undergraduate experience as a time for growth, opening his eyes to a world larger than Georgetown, South Carolina, and providing the opportunity to “learn how to learn.” McDonald recalls one of his more memorable professors, Dr. James Bonk, saying, “He brought the large lecture class to a whole new level. He was engaging, intellectually challenging, and athletic. He would run up and down the auditorium stairs as he was teaching. He taught a large group better than anyone.”

As a Duke student, McDonald participated in activities not unlike students today: painting himself Duke Blue for basketball games, living in a selective living group and enjoying campus opportunities, all the while completing a double major in biomedical engineering and zoology. It is perhaps McDonald’s pursuit of a challenge, evidenced by his double major and graduate courses taken as a senior, which has driven McDonald to success. Using engineering skills even as a President and CEO, McDonald claims, “I am very analytically oriented and quantitative.”

Capers McDonald has led BioReliance to continuous growth and success. During 2002, the Company earned revenue of $82 million and net income of $11 million, representing a growth of 18% in revenue and 83% in net income over 2001. BioReliance is a diversified Contract Service Organization providing high quality technical service to biotechnology and pharmaceutical clients worldwide. Recognitions and praise in 2003 for the Company’s success include a #11 ranking by Fortune Small Business among “The 100 Fastest Growing Small Companies in America,” recognition among the “50 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in Maryland” by Deloitte & Touche and an American Business Awards “Stevie” for investor communications. The Company also received a Diamond award for its Annual Report in 2002 and was named “Emerging Business of the Year” by the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce in 2001.

While his career has been filled with accolades, McDonald’s energies have not stopped there. Personal recognitions include being named the 2002 Entrepreneur Of the Year in the Life Science by Ernst & Young. He is active in community service and balances both this career and community service with his wife and son, putting family first. And, McDonald still finds time for favorite hobbies such as saltwater fishing.

What sage advice does Capers McDonald offer current Duke students? “Take those four years to broaden yourself; explore coursework outside of your department, meet people different from you and take opportunities to experiment.” Given McDonald’s personal and professional success, these words of wisdom can be beneficial to all Duke students.

Originally published in DukEngineer, 2003. Written byJean Foster, a junior double majoring in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Chinese.