Nation angler Evans helping with vital COVID research

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Jay Evans, a B.A.S.S. Nation angler and competitor in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, is the CEO of Inimmune — a biotech company that for the past five years has been at the vanguard of vaccine research.

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Many anglers like to escape to the water, leaving the cares of the world back on land.

Jay Evans is certainly one of them, but he knows that a day of fishing always is followed by a hard day of work, and it’s not necessarily work he can wait a day to tackle.

Evans is the CEO of Inimmune, a biotech company that for the past five years has been at the vanguard of vaccine research, better protecting people from everything from allergies to cancer to COVID-19. He co-founded the company in 2016 at the same time he and 14 other scientists went to work at the University of Montana. There, they started what is known as the Center for Translational Medicine, where they take discoveries in the lab and turn them into medical treatments that help people across the world.

Since its founding, Evans’ team has grown from 15 researchers to 60, and they’ve received more than $97 million in National Institutes of Health grants and contracts to conduct their work both at the university and at Inimmune.

It’s important work, historically for the 10s of millions of people vaccinated against one ailment or another every year, but especially now in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Evans — he has a Ph.D. from Oregon State University in molecular and cellular biology — and his team have spent the better part of the past year working to improve vaccines to short-circuit the novel coronavirus, as well the numerous mutations cropping up across the globe.

Needless to say, Evans isn’t fazed by the attention he’s getting as he sits in third place at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional here in Arizona. In fact, this kind of pressure likely is a breeze to the 50-year-old Missoula, Mont., resident, given that he’s dealing with multimillion dollar projects, not to mention literal matters of life and death, on a daily basis.

“I love having the chance to be here and be fishing,” Evans said Wednesday evening after he caught a limit of five bass that weighed 17-10 that put him 14 ounces from the tournament lead. “But every day I go out, there’s a hundred emails waiting for m