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Southwestern Graduate Named New Director of the Texas Life Sciences Collaboration Center

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    Southwestern graduate Michael Douglas has been named the new director of the Texas Life Sciences Collaboration Center.

Michael Douglas is also trying to develop a new partnership between Southwestern and the Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston

Michael Douglas, a Southwestern graduate with more than 30 years experience as a professor, university administrator and biotechnology executive, has been named the new executive director of the Texas Life Sciences Collaboration Center in Georgetown. He replaces Russ Peterman, who left the center last year to start a new regional biotechnology partnership.

The TLCC was founded in 2007 by Southwestern, the City of Georgetown and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce. It currently is home to seven companies – Cleanint, DiFusion Technologies, DisperSol Technologies, Microbinc, Molecular Templates, Radix BioSolutions and Xeris Pharmaceuticals. These companies have brought 55 new technical jobs to Georgetown and attracted investments totaling more than $40 million.

TLCC has completely filled its first 15,000-square-foot building with biotechnology startup companies and hopes to break ground soon on a new building that will be completed by the end of the year. The new building will offer space that meets the FDA requirements for manufacturing drugs for use in humans as well as additional wet lab space. It also will provide training space for students enrolled in Austin Community College’s new program in bio and advanced materials manufacturing.

Douglas earned undergraduate degrees in chemistry and biology from Southwestern and earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the Saint Louis University Graduate School. He served as a faculty member at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio and as chair of the Department of Biochemisty and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina Medical School before leaving academia in 1994 to become CEO of Sigma Diagnostics, a multinational clinical diagnostics company based in St. Louis.

Douglas then held leadership positions in two other pharmaceutical companies in St. Louis before being named associate vice chancellor for research and director of the Office of Technology Management at Washington University in Saint Louis in 2002. He held that position until 2006, when he was named director of UAMS BioVentures, the technology licensing office and life science business incubator affiliated with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Douglas said being able to return to Texas and work at the TLCC is a “dream that finally came true for him.” In addition to working with public and private sources to secure financing for TLCC’s new building, Douglas is working with the City of Georgetown and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce to recruit and retain biotechnology companies to the area and a long-term plan to develop a technology research park in the area near the TLCC.

Douglas has published nearly 100 scientific papers. He holds two patents for discovering new ways to use a naturally occurring compound in biopharmaceutical compositions.

He has served on the Board of Directors for numerous companies, including Novactyl Inc. and Sigma Diagnostics in St. Louis; U.S. Canadian Biofuels Inc. in Green Bay, Wisc.; and AgriEnergy Ltd. in Melbourne, Australia.

Douglas also has served on the Board of Directors of the Central Arkansas Biotechnology Park Authority, the St. Louis Academy of Science, the Center for Emerging Technology in St. Louis, and the Saint Louis University School of Engineering and on the Board of Visitors at Saint Louis University and Southwestern University.

In addition to serving as executive director of the TLCC, Douglas has been hired by Southwestern University to help the school develop a new master’s degree program in translational medicine in cooperation with the Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston. The program will train students in the business and management of clinical trials, biotechnology and pharmaceutical research and development.

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