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UT Southwestern ranked No. 1 in Texas, fourth in nation for tech transfer

Patents, licenses, startups help UTSW move discoveries from bench to bedside

Pegasus Park

DALLAS – Oct. 27, 2022 – UT Southwestern Medical Center ranked fourth in the nation and No. 1 in Texas for commercializing new biomedical technologies, considered a critical step in bringing its laboratory discoveries into clinical practice.

UT Southwestern was the only Texas institution in the top 10 of the rankings, released by the economic think tank Heartland Forward. The rankings included peer institutions from across the country, including Mayo Clinic (No. 1), Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles (No. 5), Massachusetts General Hospital (No. 6), and Cleveland Clinic (No. 8). The University of Texas System ranked No. 3 nationally among university systems on the list. Five other Texas institutions made the top 25 list.

“Dallas is in the early stages of becoming a biomedical/pharma hub. The critical components to create such a boom are in place and growing rapidly; and this is an exciting time for our region, which offers tremendous opportunity,” said Denise Canales, M.A., Assistant Vice President of Technology Commercialization in UTSW’s Office for Technology Development, which is centrally located in the heart of Pegasus Park, Dallas’ new 23-acre biomedical laboratory and office park. “We have innovation coming from premier academic institutions, the workforce continues to develop, existing companies are moving in, new companies are forming, companies which moved to the coasts are moving back, wet lab space is available, accelerators and other programmatic support are available, and investors are taking notice. Texas is the place to be right now.”

“UT Southwestern has actively positioned itself at the forefront of this evolution, pioneering trailblazing solutions to medical challenges that have viable market potential,” said Brad Phelan, M.B.A., Director of Technology Commercialization and Blackstone LaunchPad in UTSW’s Office for Technology Development. “The exciting announcement of Heartland Forward’s ranking came as UTSW is holding its annual Pitch Competition, which offers scientists opportunities to pitch ideas to a curated audience of investors and entrepreneurs. This and other opportunities have become a staple in DFW as the region’s biotech reputation continues to boom.”

Dallas is now ranked among the Top 20 U.S. Metros for Life Science Companies in 2022, with the Pegasus Park campus offering more than 750,000 square feet of office and warehouse space across multiple buildings, including an 18-story office tower, to serve as the epicenter for regional life science innovation.

Over the years, UT Southwestern scientists have been issued nearly 750 patents and disclosed more than 4,000 innovations, with the University issuing more than 1,100 licenses and options to business partners, resulting in more than $278 million in licensing revenues for the University. Ninety startups have been launched off UTSW technologies, including Taysha Gene Therapies, ReCode Therapeutics, OncoNano Medicine, Exonics Therapeutics, Rodeo Therapeutics, and Peloton Therapeutics. Peloton, acquired by Merck for approximately $1 billion in 2019, developed a first-in-kind kidney cancer drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2021.

Technology in development or brought to market based on UTSW research includes cancer therapeutics, lightweight shielding that protects surgeons from intraoperative radiation, a new catheter design, and mRNA drugs. UTSW’s decadeslong history of bringing lab discoveries full circle includes successes like cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, which resulted from the Nobel Prize-winning work of Michael Brown, M.D., and Joseph Goldstein, M.D., who recently celebrated 50 years of collaboration at UTSW. Charles Pak, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and in the Charles and Jane Pak Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research, developed three FDA-approved orphan drugs for kidney stones, elucidated metabolic causes for stone formation, and devised a multitest kit for individuals at risk for forming kidney stones.

UTSW also has established a variety of education and training tools available for students, trainees, and faculty, including joining Blackstone LaunchPad, a network for colleges and universities that provides technology development mentorship and skill-building.

The annual UTSW Pitch Competition held Thursday provides faculty and students exclusive opportunities to present early-stage technologies to leading investors, entrepreneurs, and representatives from the health care industry with prizes totaling $200,000 in three categories: therapeutics, diagnostics/medical devices, and digital health. Its host committee includes luminaries such as Nicole Small, CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies and LH Capital; J.H. Cullum Clark, Director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative; Jun Il Kwun, Founder and Managing Director of the Actium Group; and Kathleen M. Gibson, President and CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation. The Office for Technology Development also fosters connections with investors and entrepreneurs through programs such as Dolphin Tank, a “Shark Tank”-like experience where scientists can receive feedback on inventions, and Venture Visits, which attracts venture capitalists to visit labs, meet faculty and students, and discuss job opportunities with postdoctoral fellows.

UT Southwestern partnered with UT Arlington in 1974 to establish the first Ph.D. biomedical engineering (BME) program in Texas. This pioneering effort, coupled with the extensive collaboration with the engineering school at UT Dallas, has enabled UT Southwestern to sustain a vibrant and highly sought-after graduate BME program. The educational program includes a $120 million, five-story Texas Instruments Biomedical Engineering and Sciences Building opening in 2023 to house joint biomedical engineering programs at UT Southwestern and UT Dallas. Samuel Achilefu, Ph.D., who holds 65 patents, was recently selected to chair UT Southwestern’s Biomedical Engineering Department. He has developed cancer-avid materials and a wearable cancer-imaging goggle system that highlights cancer cells, providing real-time guidance to surgeons in the operating room to ensure the complete removal of cancerous tissue.

Dr. Achilefu holds the Lyda Hill Distinguished University Chair in Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Brown is a Regental Professor who holds The W.A. (Monty) Moncrief Distinguished Chair in Cholesterol and Arteriosclerosis Research, and the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Medicine. Dr. Goldstein, a Regental Professor, holds the Julie and Louis A. Beecherl, Jr. Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Research, and the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Medicine. Dr. Pak holds the Alfred L. and Muriel B. Rabiner Distinguished Academic Chair for Mineral Metabolism Biotechnology Research.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 24 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,900 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 4 million outpatient visits a year.