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An named UTHealth Houston’s first vice president of drug discovery

Portrait of Zhiqiang An, PhD
Zhiqiang An, PhD, has been named UTHealth Houston’s first vice president of drug discovery. (Photo by UTHealth Houston)

Zhiqiang An, PhD, has been named UTHealth Houston’s first vice president of drug discovery. In this new role, An will work in close collaboration with researchers across campus, as well as the Office of Technology Management, Academic and Faculty Affairs, and the Office of the President to promote drug discovery and therapeutic innovation.

“Dr. An is a world leader in therapeutic biologic drugs, and his Texas Therapeutics Institute is a signature collaborative enterprise at UTHealth Houston,” said Kevin A. Morano, PhD, senior vice president of academic and faculty affairs at UTHealth Houston. “We look forward to leveraging Zhiqiang’s experience, expertise, and sincere desire to serve to assist other investigators in their efforts to translate their discoveries and ideas into effective treatments.”

An, professor of molecular medicine and the Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry, is a trailblazer in the development of antibody-based biologicals to treat various cancers, spinal cord injury, and Alzheimer’s disease, with multiple drug candidates currently in clinical trials.

More than $50 million in extramural funding, 200+ papers published in top-tier journals, and 45 filed patents are all testaments to an extraordinary level of success and drive of Dr. An to improve health through novel pharmacological interventions.

During the last 10 years, more than 12 novel antibody drug leads discovered in his laboratory were licensed to eight different biotechnology companies, and six have advanced to clinical trials for acute myeloid leukemia, breast cancer bone metastasis, solid tumor, spinal cord injury, COVID-19, and other diseases.

“Dr. An and his team have set new national and international milestones for therapeutic antibody development with associated clinical trials, offering profound opportunity for targeted immune therapy,” said Bruce D. Butler, PhD, vice president of research and technology in the Office of Technology Management at UTHealth Houston.

An directs the Texas Therapeutics Institute, which operates in the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and in shared space in the South Campus Research Building 3. The institute recently expanded with a third location in the Texas Medical Center Helix Park in the newly built TMC3 Collaborative Building. The institute is, in part, supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which includes two CPRIT CORE grants for antibody drug development totaling $11.2 million. The institute also has support from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry and has established collaborations with numerous state and national leaders in drug discovery in both academic and industry.

In addition, An directs the Antibody Drug Discovery Lab, an academic drug discovery program at McGovern Medical School, and serves as a member of the faculty at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

He is an elected fellow of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, the American Academy of Microbiology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Inventors. An received his PhD from the University of Kentucky and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Prior to joining UTHealth Houston in 2009, An served as chief scientific officer at Epitomics, Inc. and was director of Biologics Research at Merck Research Laboratories.

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