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SwRI seeking to expand San Antonio’s role in drug development
August 15, 2018

Southwest Research Institute has invested in new laboratory and warehouse space to boost its capabilities in drug development. COURTESY OF SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE

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

Southwest Research Institute is investing in infrastructure and educational outreach to boost its work in drug development and generate more of such activity in San Antonio.

The institute has redeveloped a portion of its campus to expand drug development capabilities, including new clean room and high-potency laboratory space, as well as a complementary storage facility. The cost of those improvements alone is about $1 million.

“Every instrument that you could imagine is here, as well as every scientific discipline,” said Joe McDonough, director of SwRI’s pharmaceuticals and bioengineering department. “As we develop, we have to add capital and facilities.”

SwRI is also making its expertise available to a wider audience. In October, it will offer a new course for startup companies, academic researchers and others that could improve the flow of new pharmaceuticals. SwRI officials said the program will help participants better understand how to go from complex chemistry to manufacturing and control regulations to Phase I clinical trials. The course could help bring more life-saving drugs to market and more attention to drug development in the nation’s seventh-largest city.

“There is a little bit of self-interest, but it’s really about sharing this wealth of experience that we’ve accumulated,” McDonough said. “We’ve gotten some battle scars along the way. But we’ve learned from those.”

It's all part of SwRI officials working to enhance the institute’s role in drug development and awareness of its accomplishments and capabilities in that sector. If successful, its strategy could have a major impact on the city’s bioscience industry and attract more research talent and companies to the Alamo City.

SwRI officials said the institute understands that there is more drug development activity in other Texas cities, including Austin, and the significance of that. Its goal is to keep and bring more of that work here.

SwRI is not new to drug development, having helped clients large and small for nearly two decades move new therapeutics from concept to commercialization.

“We’ve worked with hundreds of clients in different therapeutic areas. So we’ve developed a functional institutional knowledge on drug development that is very deep and broad,” McDonough said.

Yet due to the nature of SwRI’s work and protecting client's confidentiality, McDonough said the institute, at least regarding drug development, has remained a “well-kept secret.”

“We are a hidden jewel,” McDonough said. “That’s not what we want to remain.”


BioMed SA Editor's Note: For the convenience of our website visitors, BioMed SA has added a link within the published story above to additional details about the new course posted on the Events page of the BioMed SA website.

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