Science Market Update

New $1M Drug Development Lab Opening At UT Austin

Posted by BCI Staff on Mon, Oct 22, 2012

Breaking news, the University of Texas, Austin is bridging the gap between research and commercialization with its new $1 million dollar drug development lab called UT Advance. The lab is aimed at helping the researcher move their projects farther down the drug pipeline. The University has an,  “outstanding preclinical research programs in drug development and targeted drug delivery," said M. Lynn Crismon, dean of the College of Pharmacy. "This facility will help our researchers … more efficiently and effectively to get their discoveries into human trials."
Dr Williams
(Courtesy of College of Pharmacy web page)

William O. Williams has the honor of being the first researcher to have a new drug tested at the UT Advance lab. His aerosolized drug is used for lung transplant patients to keep the immune system from rejecting the transplant. Dr. William’s lab explores a variety of delivery methods such as: depot drug delivery, oral drug delivery, pulmonary/nasal drug delivery, and aerosol device technology to optimize drug delivery depending upon its intended target.  

Most universities are excellent at doing basic research, but have a hard time getting their breakthroughs into clinical developments. Often researchers have to rely on large pharmaceutical companies taking an interest in their projects before it can progress out of the lab environment.  If they ignore the research, it is likely to never to go to trial. The only chance the researcher has is to try and start their own company and push their products through advanced testing and clinical trials. But the University of Texas, Austin instead wants to fast track research through commercialization. This new facility will fill the gap and speed the process of getting new drugs to clinical trials. University of Austin has already succeeded in bringing 60 drug and drug delivery products to the final stages of commercialization.

According to Lynn Crismon, dean of the College of Pharmacy:

“This lab will allow our faculty, not only in pharmacy but chemistry, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, and other departments to take their dreams, to take their ideas from the bench and help get those ideas into therapeutic products that mitigate disease.”

The new UT Advance facility will test and provide documentation to the FDA, proving the drugs can be used in clinical trials safely. Another name for this kind of research institution is a Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) facility. According to CISCRP, it typically takes more than 15 years to get a drug from discovery to clinical trials.  The process is to expensive, times consuming and rigorous. For every one drug that makes it to the market, there are 5,000 to 10,00 that do not.

The new home of the UT Advance lab is in the Dell Pediatric Research Institute. The purpose for the facility is to advance children’s health through improvements in pediatric medicine and research into childhood diseases and disorders. A goal of the center is to move new research and discoveries out of the lab into medical practice for new products, programs and treatments.  The research at facility is centered around three areas, “cancer, including pediatric and hormone-related cancers; childhood nutrition, metabolism and obesity prevention; and neurodevelopmental disorders and birth defects, including inherited metabolic diseases of childhood,”  The Dell institute got its start with a $ 38 million dollars grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.  The facility opened on April 20, 2010, and has room for 28 facility members conducting research in its 150,000 square foot facility.

Some of the current researchers and their projects include:

  • Dean Appling -Chief Administrator- working on folic acid research.
  • Zhengrong Cui -Associate Professor- drug and vaccine delivery.
  • Jaimie Davis -Assistant Professor- obesity and metabolic disorder in minority children. 
  • Linda deGraffenried -Associate Professor –mechanism on how breast and prostate cancer cells become highly aggressive.
  • John DiGiovanni -Professor -Cancer development and prevention.
  • Richard Finnell -Professor-researching environmentally induced birth defects.


If you are a laboratory supplier or life science researcher in the Austin area, plan on attending Biotechnology Calendar Inc.'s Austin BioResearch Product Faire™ life science trade show event at UT Austin on September 18, 2013. Our trade shows provide an opportunity for life science researchers to network with suppliers and keep up to date on the latest laboratory technologies in your field. For information on exhibiting and to request a free funding report, click the button:

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You may also be interested in these nearby shows:






Tags: Bioresearch, Biomedical expansion, University of Texas, 2012, UTAust, UT Austin, Austin, Research, Front Line event

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