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UT Health’s new hire expected to spawn SA biotech companies
May 21, 2018

Dr. Patrick Sung is headed back to UT Health San Antonio from Yale University.


W. Scott Bailey, Senior Reporter, San Antonio Business Journal

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas allocated $6 million to UT Health San Antonio, which is using that money to recruit Patrick Sung, a world-class researcher who left San Antonio 15 years ago for Yale University. And his return could do much more than bolster the Alamo City institution’s scientific roster.

Sung, who was chairman of biochemistry at Yale during part of his tenure there, is bringing with him $6 million in additional grant and contract funding for his work to combat inherited cancers. Dr. Robert Hromas, dean of the Long School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at UT Health San Antonio, said CPRIT is matching those funds.

“This new mechanism of treating cancer — synthetic lethality — is revolutionary. Patrick Sung is an expert in this area,” Hromas said.

Sung has invented assays for defects in inherited cancer cells that he and others at UT Health San Antonio can use to help define new treatments, Hromas said.

“He brings with him the possibility of creating whole new biotechnology companies right here in San Antonio,” Hromas said.

Prying Sung out of Yale was not easy.

“They did put up a fight to keep him. They offered a nice retention package that was in the millions,” Hromas said. “But with UT Health San Antonio’s support, and then with the addition of a philanthropic gift and the CPRIT funds, we markedly outstripped the Yale offer.”

Sung brings to the Alamo City expertise in an area where UT Health San Antonio has some impressive bench strength. And because he is bringing some of his colleagues, Hromas said there will be a collective expertise that should position UT Health and San Antonio as one of the top five places in the nation for work in inherited cancer.

There are others in Sung’s circle of expertise who have indicated an interest in joining him in San Antonio.

“Simply signing Patrick allows us to automatically be in the running for more world-class scientists,” Hromas said. “That has direct implications for spin-off biotechnology startups from UT Health and San Antonio.”

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