Spotlight on Women in STEM

By | About THBD, News, Press Coverage, Startups, Tenants | No Comments

In the heart of Temple lies a best-kept-secret: one you may drive by every day and not even realize is there. Located in an unassuming building at 1802 South First  Street, directly across from Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, sits Temple Health and Bioscience District (THBD), a 5,000 square foot lab and office facility that serves as home for some of the greatest health and biotech innovators in the region.

Among the tenant companies that utilize THBD’s state-of-the-art equipment and harness diverse professional resources are two female-owned companies making waves in the health tech ecosystem: ama biotech and Sunthetics.

Mia Mihailovic, Founder and CEO of ama biotech, first envisioned her startup while earning her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. Inspired by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that declared a sexually transmitted disease (STD) epidemic in the United States, Mihailovic set out to offer expanded options for STD testing. She decided to target women, because STDs are particularly common in women ages 15-24 and are often asymptomatic, leading to long-term health issues such as infertility and cancer.

Mihailovic utilized her training in designing molecular tools to create a straight-from-the-source biosample test that would create affordable access to at-home STD testing. Thus, ama biotech was born! The result, currently being developed at THBD, is a diagnostic tampon that will collect menstrual fluid that can then be analyzed, without doctor’s visits, third-party labs, or waiting for results. For women at-large, this means affordable, anonymous, easy-access STD testing at home is on the horizon.

“Given ama biotech’s mission to empower vulnerable populations we are honored to be a part of THBD,” says Mihailovic. “We are thankful for this space for tech innovation and I can’t wait for what’s to come.

Another female leader taking center stage at THBD is Daniela Blanco, Co-Founder and CTO of Sunthetics. Blanco earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at NYU in 2020 and dedicates her research to developing socially-responsible solutions for renewable energy integration in chemical reactions. Sunthetics’ mission is to make the chemical industry, responsible for products we use daily from food to textiles and electronics, more sustainable. Sunthetics helps bring new ideas to life for technology that has lower energy consumption, better resource usage, safer or bio-based starting materials, and integrate with renewable energy sources.

Blanco leads the technical development of the hardware and software aspects of the Sunthetics solution. Sunthetics’ artificial intelligence (AI) software platform has the ability to generate insights equivalent to thousands of experiments using only a few data points. The highly efficient tools accelerate and enhance process optimization.

“At Sunthetics, we have leveraged the laboratory suites and equipment at THBD for our research in chemical process optimization,” says Blanco. “The support we have received from staff and other tenants is invaluable. THBD is constantly connecting us with opportunities to support our scientific growth and explore funding initiatives. We are forever grateful.”

Blanco’s vision for the future is featured in Own the Room, a NatGeo documentary now streaming on Disney+. It follows five students from different corners of the world as they launch startup companies to build a better future. The documentary highlights Blanco and the birth of Sunthetics.

Sunthetics and ama biotech represent just two of the tenants developing groundbreaking technologies at THBD. Visit templebioscience.org to learn more about the life science facility, tenant companies, and the growing impact on the Temple community.

Report looks at bioscience expansion

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March 28, 2021
Temple Daily Telegram | Shane Monaco

Nine months after commissioning a report, Temple now has a list of possible ways to expand the bioscience industry in the city.

The Temple Health and Bioscience District board of directors adopted a report by Newmark Knight and Frank Consultants in a 6-0 vote Wednesday, with Michael Norman not attending. In addition to approving the report, which included an amendment to allow for changes at a later date, the board tabled the appointment of a committee to implement the report’s suggestions.

The report looked at the current actions of Temple and the Bioscience District, along with what other similar communities are doing, to create feedback and suggestions.

While the board accepted the document, they plan on holding a workshop within the next month to decide what suggestions they plan to move forward on.

“We as a board haven’t gotten the chance to digest (this report) together,” board member Jason Locklin said.

The report includes 72 different recommendations that both the Bioscience District and the community can take to open up more opportunities.

The consultants said in the report that for Temple to have success in recruiting biotech firms it “will require major, long-term investments in assets and workforce.”

Temple, the report showed, has between 20 and 8 percent of the key workers needed, offered few operating cost savings, lacked research and development funds and was not on the radar of site selectors for the industry.

While the area currently is lacking in some areas to attract biotech companies, the report said Temple’s proximity to Interstate 35 and Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Temple, along with attractive vacant land, provides room to grow.

The consulting firm said this work would require a 20-year plan.

The report suggested the district broaden its scope moving forward and look for other ways to generate revenue so it can institute the changes needed.

Thomas Baird, board chairman for the district, said he wasn’t surprised by the number of recommendations in the report and was excited for the future.

Baird said that he had felt that there was more the district could be doing and with the suggestions made in the report now sees many new avenues. He said he knows developing a bioscience industry in a city can take decades, but hopes to see some significant change in his lifetime.

The district now needs to decide what parts of the report to work on, Baird said. As long as it helps the city, he is willing to move forward, he said.

“I am a bottom-line type of guy,” Baird said. “And if we can get the results to make our city a healthy city and a medical destination where there are more high-paying jobs, that is what I want to do.”

Source: https://www.tdtnews.com/news/central_texas_news/article_5d75ab56-9008-11eb-9736-0f4c083805c1.html

Innovation thriving in Temple’s health care ecosystem

By | About THBD, Industry Happenings, News, Press Coverage, Tenants, THBD | No Comments

March 9, 2021
Dallas Business Journal | Adrian Cannady  –  President and CEO, Temple Economic Development Corporation

Temple has established itself as a leader in health care and innovation due to the abundance of top-tier health care establishments in the region and the workforce that powers these institutions. In fact, 30.2% of the city’s population is trained and working in the health care industry.

The industry in Temple and the surrounding Killeen-Temple MSA is also a significant force in the regional economy — employing 25,900 workers and generating an estimated $102.6 million in local tax revenue for cities, counties, and school districts in the region in 2019.

Temple Medical and Educational District (TMED) is the foundation for Temple’s health and life sciences ecosystem. Established in 2009 to promote future development around existing industry assets, TMED is where some of the state’s established medical institutions are giving Central Texas direct access to exceptional health care.

World-class institutions

Temple’s state-of-the-art medical facilities are at the crux of the region’s health care innovation. Among the prominent institutions that call Temple home are Baylor Scott & White Health, the largest not-for-profit health care system in the state of Texas; McLane Children’s Hospital, the only children’s hospital between Dallas and Austin; and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the largest VA medical consortium in Texas, serving more than 250,000 veterans across 39 local counties each year.

Adding to Temple’s distinguished line of medical institutions is Everest Rehabilitation Hospitals. Headquartered in Dallas, the company opened a $23 million, 36-bed rehabilitation hospital in Temple — bringing 120 new jobs to the city in 2019.

Beyond these health care providers, the Temple Health and Bioscience District (THBD) cultivates local entrepreneurship by mentoring early-stage biotech companies and helping them reach success. The facility was created to grow such companies from concept to commercialization through funding, counseling, and providing access to labs and equipment. The district’s programs include e-learning series webinars, annual conferences, internships and more. Tenants are also introduced to an extensive network of collaborators and mentors to help further their professional endeavors.

In recent news, Houston-based Baylor College of Medicine announced plans to open a new medical school campus in Temple in 2023 as part of a collaboration with Baylor Scott & White Health. The establishment of a new campus will attract more industry professionals to Temple’s existing talent pipeline, and support the growth of companies formed out of this new research partnership.

Additionally, when exploring the successes of Temple’s health and life sciences industry, it’s important to mention the medical education cluster formed by Texas A&M University-Central Texas, University of Mary Hardin Baylor and Texas Bioscience Institute at Temple College, which offers students the opportunity to earn up to 60 college credit hours in STEM curriculum. This array of colleges of sciences and technology are educating and expanding the future of our health and life sciences workforce, with the goal of creating a strong talent pipeline of highly educated skilled workers.

Visit templeedc.com to learn more about Temple’s position as a hotbed for health and life sciences.

Temple Economic Development Corporation (Temple EDC) works to enhance economic development and quality of life for businesses and residents in Temple, Texas. For more information about doing business in Temple, visit templeedc.com.

Bioscience District approves grant for transplant hospitality house

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March 9, 2021
Temple Daily Telegram | Eric Garcia

The board of the Temple Health and Bioscience District approved an $11,250 grant to support Amy’s House, the Temple facility for transplant patients and their caregivers.

The hospitality house, 2114 S. 15th St., is sponsored by Transplant Recipients International Organization Central Texas, is located near the east side of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple for ease of access for patients.

Board chairman Thomas Baird said the nonprofit life science facility approved the action Feb. 24.

“Everything we can do to support health care and help our community is a priority for Temple Health and Bioscience District,” Baird said. “We are very supportive and worked with city of Temple and Amy’s House from the beginning. They make the transplant process for families smoother. Amy’s House provides a place to stay so that patients and their families can focus on the hard parts of the transplant process. They support the success of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple and the transplant department, and that is an initiative we support wholeheartedly.”

Amy’s House provides temporary housing at an affordable cost, according to a news release.

From Jan. 4 to March 2 this year, Amy’s House has provided a total of 41 nights of stay for 13 patients and caregivers, with each guest staying an average of six nights, the Bioscience District said.

“The need is great. Patients come in from all over Texas to be cared for by Baylor Scott & White Transplant Center – Temple. So far in 2021, guests of Amy’s House have driven an average of 118 miles to see providers and stay at the facility,” the release said.

The facility is a place to heal after surgery, Dr. Debra K. Doherty, surgical director for the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, Baylor Scott & White – Temple Region, said.

“Thanks to the generosity of those who are helping with this project, several patients have already taken advantage of Amy’s House and have commented how wonderful it is to have a home away from home – allowing them to focus on getting well,” Doherty said.

The $11,250 grant will help the further development of the facility.

The Bioscience District, which supported Amy’s House since its inception, provided funds to aid in the construction of the facility. The building cost $1.1 million to build, encompassing about 6,000 square feet. The facility includes eight bedrooms, a kitchen, a conference room and offices.

 “We could not be more grateful to the Temple Health & Bioscience District for these additional funds,” Amy’s House Executive Director Jim Fly said. “It takes a community presence like Temple’s to make a nonprofit like ours operate successfully. We look forward to continuing to serve transplant patients and their families with your support.”

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple’s transplant department continues to grow and expand. The department had 840 referrals and 138 transplants in 2020, of which 127 were kidney and pancreas, and 12 were living donor transplants, the release said. The department’s goal is to perform 165 transplants in 2021. A majority of the transplant patients served by the hospital are from low socio-economic families, and more than 60 percent live more than 50 miles from Temple.

Amy’s House, which held a ribbon cutting in December, welcomed its first guest on Jan. 4.

Temple helped the facility by donating land to TRIO, Mayor Tim Davis said.

 “For the city of Temple to have the chance to be involved in taking care of those families in a time of need, it is a great honor to get to be a part of that,” Davis told the Telegram in December. “The stress of having a family member with a serious medical condition can be overwhelming, and with something like Amy’s House stepping in and being able to provide a safe, comfortable and affordable place for that family to stay while they are caring for their loved one is great.”