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New StemBioSys CEO has big plans for San Antonio company
September 20, 2013

New StemBioSys Inc. CEO Peter Savas says the company will pursue more funding and partnership opportunities. (Photo by Lyndsey Johnson / SABJ)

By W. Scott Bailey, San Antonio Business Journal

StemBioSys Inc. is a relatively young venture with huge upside potential. Its new CEO, Peter Savas, has an ambitious vision for the San Antonio-based company.

Savas, who is relocating from one of America's bioscience hot spots, Boston, was not fully aware of the advancements San Antonio has made to date in the life-sciences sector. But he was sold on the work that StemBioSys is doing in the stem-cell arena and believes there is an opportunity to market that technology platform to major companies across the globe. Savas' plans for StemBioSys could provide a significant boost to local leaders' efforts to position the Alamo City as a major biosciences hub.

"What got me to look at San Antonio was Gary Frashier," says Savas. "He had described to me that one of the city's critical initiatives was to become a prominent health- and life-sciences center, and that there were all of these hidden ingredients here that no one knew about."

Frashier has led a number of bioscience companies, including OSI Pharmaceuticals, which discovered a major cancer drug. It was Frashier, a member of the StemBioSys board of directors, who made Savas aware of the technology the company has developed, which isolates and expands populations of high-quality stem cells.

"I was skeptical. So I took the data back to Boston and met with a guy named Bob Langer from MIT," Savas explains. "We looked through the material and I said, ‘I think these guys are on to something.'"

Langer believes StemBioSys is well-positioned to take advantage of its work on the stem cell front.

"Langer is a big name (in the biosciences)," Savas says. "He's well respected and rightfully so."

One of the major challenges in stem-cell research is that a large quantity and high quality of these cells are needed to pursue novel ways of attacking diseases. Savas, who began his career at pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb, and who has held executive leadership positions with a number of science-related companies, says StemBioSys has an opportunity to market its unique technology platform to entities far and wide that need access to large quantities of high-quality cells.

Savas has raised some $200 million for a variety of companies over his career. He has also sold a number of companies, but wants to build up StemBioSys. Savas will bring to StemBioSys several high-powered board members and advisors, including Langer, a Nobel laureate.

StemBioSys raised more than $2 million in investor funding this summer. Savas says the company will aggressively pursue additional funding. StemBioSys will also look to create new partnership opportunities and expand existing relationships. Last October, the Business Journal reported that StemBioSys had entered into a new research partnership with what has since been branded as BioBridge Global and its South Texas Blood & Tissue Center affiliate, GenCure. That partnership is evolving.

"BioBridge Global is now actually making space available for us at their facility where we can process all of our blood tissue to the highest possible standards required by the pharmaceutical industry," Savas explains.

 

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