SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Biomedical Research Institute is a nonprofit infectious disease center in San Antonio that has worked in life sciences.
Among the many diseases the institute has worked on, the organization’s COVID-19 research has helped develop Pfizer’s vaccine, as well as therapeutics.
Texas Biomed President and CEO Dr Larry Schlesinger joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss the vaccine development process and what’s next for the institute.
“Numerous contributions to the institute launched our animal studies and in two months validated these animal studies. And this is what allowed us very early on to interact with Pfizer BioNTech, with Regeneron and Novavax and to start these studies at the end of spring (2020). It was the success of these animal models that resembled the success we are seeing in humans that allowed these clinical studies to begin in the summer of 2020. And it’s hard to believe that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on which Texas Biomed did all the work now has a year of administration to humans. Almost half a billion of these vaccines have been distributed worldwide, and I am very proud of this accomplishment alone, ”said Dr Schlesinger.
Currently, Texas Biomed is in year two of a 10-year strategic growth plan that is expected to impact the local economy by $ 3.2 billion.
“The animal care complex is the first major capital project in our 10-year strategic plan in which we will really redo the campus. It’s an amazing project at the south end of campus. It’s really four buildings, 18,000 square feet of space, and it’s going to allow us to dramatically expand what is a national and global shortage, ”said Dr. Schlesinger.
The plan also includes a new veterinary hospital, where 150 employees will work to care for animals that participate in medical studies, according to Dr Schlesinger.
“Animal keepers can come together and provide cutting-edge human care to these animals as we work with them to make a great discovery that is helping humans. It’s going to be for buildings, and it was started with a federal grant from the Economic Development Administration, and then generous donations from community donors, as well as institutional resources that allow us to build this building. This is really just the start of many of our capital projects. St. Jude, our center research building, which will be our new front door building, is really what we are developing research sources for at the moment. So, you know, these are game-changing opportunities for the San Antonio institute, ”said Dr. Schlesinger.
Dr Schlesinger said this was just the start for Texas Biomed and the biomedical industry here in Alamo City.
“This is a great economic development plan for the city. We are talking about going from just under 400 current employees to 700 employees. These are good paying jobs. We anticipate that our plan will create approximately 1,700 new jobs, directly or indirectly at the institute. And, and I think it’s a great opportunity. There are three things I would like to highlight about Texas Biomed besides science and our growth for the future, and that is economic development, ”said Dr. Schlesinger.
The future is bright for the medical research institute and education plays a key role.
“It’s education and you know, we currently have about 10,000 students we’re interacting with in San Antonio and the 17 school districts for STEM. We have internships, day schools, students on campus. We do awareness; it’s a very important part of Texas Biomed, ”said Dr. Schlesinger.
San Antonio is Military City, United States, and this connection is vital to the biomedical industry.
“Currently we have grants with the military and we are planning to expand them. And then finally, it’s the culture of San Antonio. The four presidents of the city’s major research organizations speak to us frequently. We have collaborative research agreements. It’s about tapping into all the talent resources that San Antonio has to support. And then, it’s about talking about us to the world. We are no secret. We are actually a tremendous economic engine for the future of biomedical science and healthcare and I think our future is very bright and wonderful, ”said Dr Schlesinger.
You can watch Dr. Schlesinger’s full interview in the video player above.
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