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Athenex: from UB lab discovery to job generator

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Thu, Feb 11th 2016 02:30 pm

New Dunkirk facility for UB spinoff demonstrates potential of university research, UB president said

University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi today congratulated Athenex, a successful biotech company that began as a UB startup, on the unveiling today by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of the state's plans to build a $200 million high-tech manufacturing center for the company in Dunkirk.

The center is expected to create 500 new jobs in the Southern Tier community in addition to the company's existing 325 jobs, which are located in Western New York and around the globe. The company's North American headquarters are in the Conventus Building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

"The announcement today of a biotech manufacturing center that extends the resources of the 'Buffalo Billion' to create more jobs in our region is the best possible evidence that research universities contribute strongly to economic development," Tripathi said. "The research that led to the development of the cancer-fighting drugs that will be manufactured in Dunkirk and which began in the laboratory of a UB professor, will not only bolster the region's economy. It also is bringing life-saving treatments to cancer patients."

Athenex began as UB startup Kinex Pharmaceuticals, a company that associate emeritus chemistry professor David Hangauer, Ph.D., co-founded based on a compound he developed that targets a protein linked to cancer cell survival. After Hangauer, also an alumnus of UB, started Kinex in 2003, the company maintained strong ties with the university and benefited from its support.

UB's office of science technology and economic outreach was instrumental in the early years, filing patents and licensing the technology upon which the company was built. UB also holds equity in the company.

"Athenex is a wonderful example of how our expertise, services and state-of-the-art facilities, including UB CAT, establish critical links between UB researchers and companies," said UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences Executive Director Norma Nowak, Ph.D. "Through university-industry applied research collaboration, we develop new, innovative biomedical and bioengineering products and services that spur the life sciences industry, providing maximum impact on the region's economy." 

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