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Building the Next Generation of CEOs: Houston’s Fannin Names Fellows

Xconomy Texas — 

Houston—Fannin Innovation Studio has named five new fellows as part of its program to help nurture biotech and life sciences executives.

The fellows, most of whom have PhDs, have specialties in neurosciences, systems biology, economics, and cellular biology. They will work alongside the executive leadership of companies in Fannin’s portfolio. The fellows will be given managerial roles and participate in discussions related to product commercialization, including market analysis and regulatory requirements.

Once they complete the fellowship, the hope is that many may ultimately go on to serve as CEOs of Houston’s up-and-coming life science startups, said Atul Varadhachary, Fannin’s managing partner. “The aim is to meet the needs of our academic institutions and our (innovation) ecosystem,” he says. “The vast majority of people coming out of graduate school are going to have to look outside of academic institutions for long-term jobs. We can integrate them into the life sciences ecosystem.”

The Fannin program is one of several efforts in Houston aimed at grooming the next cohort of life sciences and biotech executives to lead companies produced from homegrown research. Last year, for example, the Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute launched a fellowship in biodesign. Two teams of four fellows—one in digital health and the second in medical devices—spend the year in three phases: a clinical “shadowing” stage, during which they will get an idea of unmet needs; an inventing and prototyping stage; and an implementation stage to begin the process of raising money and figuring out a product’s market.

Varadhachary describes Fannin’s program as an “entrepreneurship post-doc.”

Instead of the sort of mentored research done in traditional post-doctoral fellowship, engaged in work related to his or her scientific field, Fannin fellows will have mentors to help them deepen their experience in innovation. “They could be running their own biotech companies, joining a big pharmaceutical company,” he adds.