Dallas/Ft. Worth: A “No-Brainer” for Life Science Development

Dallas skyline

Texas is such a large state—larger than France with chunks of Germany, the UK and Italy included—that it can be a bit unexpected when organizations analyzing the biopharma industry break it up into specific cities or regions.

For example, a recent report by CBRE Research analyzing U.S. life science clusters found that Houston, Texas is the third-fastest growing life science market from 2014 to 2017. Much has been written about the life science market in Austin, both the capital of Texas and the location of the University of Texas. In terms of the report’s top-ranked emerging life science clusters, Houston ranks #2, Austin ranks #3 and Dallas/Ft. Worth ranks #7.

The recent CBRE Research report, “2019 U.S. Life Sciences Clusters” has two Texas metropolitan areas in its top-10 fastest-growing life sciences market. Houston ranked third, while Dallas/Ft. Worth ranked seventh. Let’s look at Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Of the cities and regions in that category, the report notes, “exhibit an attractive combination of a substantive life science workforce, including key scientists, strong recent life sciences employment growth, ample NIH funding, top-ranked schools and medical institutions, and a sizeable high-tech workforce to support future convergence between the industries.”

Jeff Ellerman, vice chairman, CBRE, stated, “The DFW area is an attractive market for companies in the life sciences industry. There is an enormous amount of high-tech talent in the area, which helps support the cross-pollination between tech and life sciences. When you combine the growing market with available talent, it becomes a no-brainer for large companies in the pharmaceutical and medical technology sectors to Choose North Texas for their headquarters.”

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Academic Institutions

The Dallas/Ft. Worth region has several major academic institutions, including Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas-Dallas. Texas has quite a number of major research institutions, including Texas Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The area also is host to a number of nationally renowned healthcare and medical institutions, including Parkland Memorial Hospital, Baylor University Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.

Dallas/Ft. Worth academic institutions churned out 2,120 biological and biomedical science degrees in the 2016/2017 academic year, with 129 of these being doctorates.

In addition, Dallas/Ft. Worth institutions received $181 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

An Overview

According to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the region’s healthcare infrastructure is made up of more than 450 biomedical companies, 1,110 research, development and testing laboratories, and nationally-recognized healthcare systems.

“The University of North Texas (UNT) Health Science Center in Fort Worth is a major driver and collaborator in medical research and cutting-edge technologies that are gaining ground in the fight against major disease.”

Their report indicates there are 222,700 life sciences industry jobs in the DFW area.

Incentive programs in the DFW area include the Texas Enterprise Fund, used to attract new business to the state or to assist existing businesses in expanding; the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, designed to help the state create jobs and grow the economy over the long term; the Texas Enterprise Zone Program, an economic development tool for local communities to partner with the state to promote job creation and capital investment, as well as other tax incentives and workforce training funds.

Coming up on May 21, 2019, is the North Texas Life Science Career Symposium (LSCS 2019). The goal of the event is to create an annual event connecting top academic talent in North Texas with careers in the life sciences. As such, graduate students, post-doctorates, medical professionals and life science company representatives and executives are invited to attend for career exploration, networking, and job opportunities.

Keynote speakers will be John Milligan, former president and chief executive officer of Gilead Sciences, and Gaurab Chakrabarti, chief executive officer of Solugen.

The event is organized by Health Wildcatters and the Biotech Club at UT Southwestern in collaboration with Quest for Careers (QFC), Consulting Club, and the Science Policy Education and Communication (SPEaC) student organizations.

Examples

Here are just a few examples of recent DFW biopharma and life science stories.

Tricida Announces Positive Data From Kidney Disease Trial

Tricida, a biopharma company based in South San Francisco, announced that its veverimer (TRC101) was positive in treating metabolic acidosis in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The TRCA-301E trial was a 40-week extension of the 12-week TRCA-301 trial.

The lead investigator for the trial, Donald E. Wesson, Professor of Medicine at Texas A&M Health Sciences Center College of Medicine in Dallas, stated, “This trial provides evidence of long-term safety and tolerability of TRC101 and that the sustained increase in blood bicarbonate led to improvements in multiple clinical outcomes that matter to both patients and physicians.”

Prelude Fertility and Inception Fertility Become Largest Fertility Services in the U.S.

New York-based Prelude Fertility has conducted a deal with Inception Infertility, which will make the Prelude Network the fastest-growing network of fertility clinics and the largest provider of comprehensive fertility services in the U.S. The Prelude Network and Inceptions’ Aspire clinics in total completed about 18,000 IVF cycles last year. TJ Farnsworth, founder of Inception Fertility, will act as chief executive officer of the new parent entity.

Inception is the parent company of Aspire Fertility, with sites at 11 locations in Texas, including Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and McAllen, as well as one site in Atlanta.

C-Hear Will be Featured at Dallas Startup Week

C-Hear was launched in Dallas in 2015. It delivers a small digital footprint file that contains both image and sound using its Codec platform. This allows visually impaired individuals to “hear” images on the Internet. Within the healthcare industry, it is helping transition into ADA compliance. The company founder and chief executive officer, Adena Harmon, will speak Thursday, April 4, 12-12:45 pm in a panel called “Startups That Change Our Lives” at the Dallas Startup Week event. Other panelists will include ob-gyn Lyndsey M. Harper, Chris Bricker, chief executive officer of MyndVR and Lara Ashmore of the University of Texas at Dallas.

United Neuroscience to Present Alzheimer’s Vaccine Data

United Neuroscience, which has offices in Dublin, Ireland and Dallas, will present Phase IIa data from its lead product, UB-311, at the 14th International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases in Lisbon, Portugal, from March 26-31, 2019. UB-311 is a novel UBIth active vaccine targeting the N-terminus of A-beta peptides. It is, essentially, a vaccine for Alzheimer’s. It is designed to induce high B-cell specific responses while avoiding T-cell inflammation. In a Phase I clinical trial, UB-311 vaccination safely increased anti-Abeta antibodies with “a suggestion of cognitive stabilization.”

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