In the newly approved Operational Strategic Plan for Research, there is an entire section devoted to Stimulating Partnerships and Collaborations. Outlined carefully in this section are subsections that describe specific ways UTHSC can spur partnerships and collaborations with our different partners, both established and yet to be established. Corporate Partners in Research, one of the several listed, notes that “business-industry partnerships need to be beneficial in very significant ways to both UTHSC and the industry, as well as support the overall mission of each participant.” To lead the charge on behalf of UTHSC, Vice Chancellor for Research Steven R. Goodman, PhD, has appointed Gabor Tigyi, MD, PhD, as associate vice chancellor for Research and Industry Relations effective October 1, 2016.
“Gabor Tigyi has years of experience taking discoveries from the bench through the regulatory process,” said Dr. Goodman. “I know he will help us identify our strengths and capabilities in the entrepreneurship environment and pinpoint ideal partners.”
Dr. Tigyi is one of the founders of RxBio, Inc., a bio- technology company formed around novel and proprietary small-molecule technology developed at UTHSC. He also serves as the corporation’s Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Tigyi has acquired several patents throughout his career, some of which have been licensed to RxBio and moved into the FDA approval line. His research mainly focuses on antidotes for radiation injury and therapeutic resistance of cancer. He spent the last 10 years serving as chair of UTHSC’s Department of Physiology and was recently appointed Distinguished Visiting Chair Professor at Taiwan National University Center for Biotechnology.
“Due to a fortunate discovery of lipid growth factor early on in my career, I have been able to start a field of research that is now performed by over 100 labs worldwide,” said Tigyi. “In this next phase of my career, I want to focus on taking drugs through the regulatory process. In my new role, I will be working on finding industry partners for our university, and will help foster those relationships. I know I have a lot to learn, but I am eager to start.”
Beginning with an internal assessment of the university’s colleges, then examining the city and region’s needs, one of Dr. Tigyi’s main goals is the application of UTHSC’s key strengths as support or complements to companies in Memphis and around the region. He will look at strengthening current relationships and building new ones with major players in the Mid-South area.
“Memphis has a traditional biotech industry especially in orthopedics and spinal implant development manufacturing,” said Dr. Tigyi. “As an academic institution, we can partner with these key players. With the coming development of the UT Biotechnology Park, we can cast a bigger net to business from around the region who are not only in the biomedical field but in food, chemical, and agricultural industries too.”
Referencing facilities such as the Plough Center for Sterile Drug Delivery Systems, Dr. Tigyi suggests that UTHSC has unique resources that can be built up and built around. He said “lots of leaps have been made in the past year” by the institution.
“We’re focused on building up our infrastructure, the clinical faculty, and are investing in and improving our core facilities,” said Dr. Tigyi. “We are developing a diversified portfolio that will drive us towards successful industry partnerships with commercial companies in Memphis and the Mid-South.”