VOL. 132 | NO. 232 | Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Officials Talk Bioscience Research Partnership
By Andy Meek
Three major Memphis health care institutions including the University of Tennessee Health Science Center have established a formal partnership to help spur the commercialization of bioscience and technology breakthroughs.
The partnership includes the Memphis Bioworks Foundation and TriMetis Life Sciences, a preclinical services company that provides specialty laboratory and consultation services to help institutions advance research.
Not only will those institutions be working closely with the university, but key figures at both have been given university appointments.
Memphis Bioworks’ president and executive director Dr. Steve Bares, for example, is now also associate vice chancellor for research and entrepreneurship at the university. Likewise, TriMetis president and CEO Phil Cestaro has been appointed as associate vice chancellor for research and business development at UTHSC.
The motivation behind both appointments, according to the university, is to have both men focus on helping build and support research via entrepreneurship.
UTHSC executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer Dr. Ken Brown said the partnership with “established experts” in areas that include commercialization, business development, industry relationships and capital investment, will help the university better lay a path for efforts to flow from the research to commercial stage.
Bares will focus especially on capitalizing on existing research by professors and students and help lay a foundation for future research and discovery. He’ll also be working to help expand access and expose UTHSC faculty to educators and researchers who’ve successfully turned discoveries into commercial ventures.
“Bioworks is in the business of helping companies and entrepreneurs bring new products to market,” Bares told The Daily News. “The best way this region can grow is if we do more research and we’re more effective at bringing local talent into the marketplace. One of our principal research institutions is obviously (UTHSC), so in this role I’m focused on helping grow the research enterprise and helping faculty take that research and bring it into the commercial marketplace.”
This will be in addition to his role at Memphis Bioworks, which has invested tens of millions of dollars into startup businesses and helped create more than 800 jobs. It also builds on what already are longstanding ties between the university and Memphis Bioworks, the board of which includes UTHSC chancellor Dr. Steve Schwab and University of Tennessee president Joseph DiPietro.
But it’s one thing, Bares says, to have membership on your board. It’s another to be working alongside each other’s staff.
“By having us closely affiliated with the university like this, it makes it much easier to do what we do and much easier for the university to draw on those capabilities to build research and new talent,” he said.
In addition to the joint appointments of Bares and Cestaro, meanwhile, the new partnership includes the lease of the TriMetis Laboratory facility by UTHSC.
As part of the arrangement, TriMetis is leasing the building to UTHSC, and UTHSC is providing space back to TriMetis for its current and future business.
TriMetis has operated its 26,000-square-foot facility at 20 South Dudley, where it focuses on in vitro and in vivo research.
In addition to a laboratory, TriMetis’ services also include providing access to consulting and human biospecimen to support research.
Cestaro says his organization has been working with UTHSC for more than four years now, and “this type of arrangement is exactly what was envisioned with the construction of the TriMetis facility.
“It also enables the TriMetis sales team to not only recruit business appropriate to TriMetis, but to expand our offerings to include research and services available through UTHSC.”