Life Science Experts, Researchers Examine Houston's Potential as Global Innovation Hub
HOUSTON, April 27, 2023 — In partnership with Convergence Ventures and Greathouse Holloway McFadden Trachtenberg PLLC, Asia Society Texas hosted a panel of academics, researchers, and pharmaceutical industry leaders who shared insights on the state of Houston’s life science ecosystem and what it would take to make Houston a global biomedical research hub.
Help Us Build a More Inclusive World
The program featured Ann Tanabe, CEO of BioHouston; Dr. Ferran Prat, Senior Vice President of Research Administration and Industry Ventures at MD Anderson Cancer Center; Dr. Abria Magee, Senior Program Manager for Product Development Research at CPRIT; Eric Johnson, Executive Managing Director for Transwestern’s Life Science Advisory Services Group; Dr. Paul Cherukuri, Vice President for Innovation at Rice University. Convergence Venture’s partner John Nghiem moderated the discussion.
Promoting Houston’s life science ecosystem
The panelists spoke on the importance of connecting Houston to biomedical research institutions and capital markets in Asia, as well as attracting and retaining global talent. Tanabe focused on how the regional infrastructure, which was built for and utilized by the energy industry, has created a robust business and investment climate, laying the foundation for established capital markets for research and increased the human talent available in the city. In that regard, Dr. Prat suggested a strategy of promoting innovation by nurturing the companies with the best chance of success.
Tanabe and Dr. Magee clarified that the creation of a global research hub is an ongoing process that requires years or even decades. For this reason, Tanabe suggested focusing on the successful projects that have already taken place in the city and creating a critical mass to continue making progress. Reflecting on how the rush to provide results often rivals the need to protect intellectual property, Dr. Cherukuri said that innovation and commercialization are equally necessary aspects of the life science field.
Connecting Texas to Asia
Dr. Magge outlined how outreach strategies can connect companies and laboratories worldwide, and how fostering mutual cooperation and sharing resources that can lead to better outcomes. She highlighted clinical trials as an area with many cooperation opportunities. Dr. Cherukuri added that local institutions must be willing to recruit both talent and capital from around the world. Dr. Prat and Johnson pointed out the relevance of having partnerships and strong ties to Asia, as well as the impact that Asian companies are having as they establish footprints in Houston.
Vision for the future and the next generation of researchers and managers
During the discussion, Dr. Johnson emphasized the role of transparency in promoting investment. Dr. Prat also referred to the future of clinical trials and cell therapy, and how this could create a lasting local competitive advantage to bring businesses to Houston.
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.