ATI’s Bioscience program focuses on human health – medical devices, diagnostics, research tools, and therapeutics. The Bio team has deep expertise in the regulatory pathways and reimbursement landscapes that human health-focused start-ups have to navigate.
Founded in 2008 in partnership with the City of Austin, ATI-Bioscience works closely with other members of the Central Texas and statewide bioscience ecosystem, including BioAustin, Austin Life Science Entrepreneurs, local medical centers, and more. The ATI-Bioscience team has also invested in building relationships with life sciences funders, including specialist venture capital firms (both inside and outside Texas,) the Emerging Technology Fund, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute Texas, and others.
ATI-Bioscience has also partnered with the University’s College of Pharmacy to create an on-campus wet lab facility that can be accessed by early-stage life sciences companies. That offering, called the UTech Dorm Room, is explained more fully here.
The Bioscience program also hosts symBIOsis, an event (co-sponsored with the Rice Alliance) designed to bring the commercial and academic life sciences communities together. symBIOsis events happen quarterly; more information is here.
ATI-Bioscience is led by Dr. Cindy Walker-Peach. Cindy has a PhD in Molecular Biology and more than 20 years’ experience in biotech, including participation in the founding teams of Cenetron Diagnostics, Stratagene, Ambion, Assuragen, and Mirna. Cindy has expertise in business development, partnerships, licensing, and regulatory and reimbursement strategy and is the inventor on multiple issued and pending patents on clinical assay innovations.
On the healthcare payor and provider side, Cindy also brings in ATI’s overall director, Isaac Barchas. Isaac worked extensively in healthcare while at McKinsey & Company, where he was on the leadership team of the firm’s North American Healthcare Practice.
Beyond Cindy and Isaac, ATI surrounds each bioscience portfolio company with a “virtual board” of experienced biotech executives and successful entrepreneurs. Recent advisors include: Stephen Andrade (former CEO, DecisionView); Curt Bilby (CEO, Terapio); Dwight DuBois, MD (President, Centeron Diagnostics); Greg Hartman (CEO and President, Seton Family of Hospitals); Jim Jacobson (Laboratory Director, Biophysical); Lynne Hohlfeld (CFO, Asuragen and Mirna Therapeutics); Paul Lammers, MD (CEO and President, Mirna Therapeutics); Gary Sabins (CEO and President, Spinal Restorations); Bruce Leander (former President, Ambion, Inc.) and Timothy Sullivan (CEO and President, Mystic Pharmaceuticals).
But the best illustrations of the ATI bio vertical focus, and success, are in its portfolio company stories, and direct thoughts from company leaders:
Is developing AeroVanc (vancomycin hydrochloride inhalation powder), a novel dry powder form of vancomycin in a capsule-based inhaler for the treatment of respiratory methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is a genetic disease characterized by the prevalence of thick, sticky mucus produced in the lung, frequent lung infections and a resultant decline in pulmonary function. As the disease progresses, patients' lungs are typically colonized with bacteria that are difficult to eradicate. MRSA infections have been found to cause a decline in lung function and are associated with a significantly shortened life expectancy, without any approved treatment. Vancomycin administered by IV is the antibiotic of choice for the treatment of MRSA-related infections; however, IV administration, poor penetration into the lungs and systemic toxicities limit its use in a chronic setting. By delivering vancomycin directly to the site of infection, AeroVanc is expected to improve clinical efficacy and reduce systemic exposure.
Rob Neville, President & CEO, Savara
ATI was instrumental in Savara's early successes; including a $1.9M ETF award, federal grants and equity funding totaling over $8M. In addition, under the watchful eyes of Isaac Barchas and the bioscience team, Savara successfully graduated from ATI with a polished value proposition and strategy.
Is developing a pipeline of therapeutic applications based on RLIP76, an endogenous protein, that functions as a key element of an innovative drug delivery technology. As one of the few biopharmaceutical companies in Austin, Terapio tapped the unique talents and network at ATI to help secure Texas ETF, federal grant and venture capital funding totaling over $7M in a time span of less than two years.
Curt Bilby, President & CEO, Terapio
Isaac Barchas and the ATI team were instrumental in contributing to our management team's strategy and approach to positioning, corporate governance and organizational development, along with keen insights into understanding the nuances of public policy that directly impact our unique markets.