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SA biotech group gets new leader who will seek more critical funding
February 26, 2016

Kenneth Trevett has a new gig. Image by Carlos Javier Sanchez.

By W. Scott Bailey, San Antonio Business Journal

The Vaccine Development Center of San Antonio has instituted a leadership change designed to secure the funding and gather the resources needed to carry out its mission.

Kenneth Trevett, a center co-founder, will become executive director of the center, which was formed in 2012 to help expedite the development of new drugs to combat infectious diseases worldwide.

One of the lead items on his agenda will be to find new funding for the group, whose stakeholders include the The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Southwest Research Institute and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute.

"The goal here is to incentivize collaboration in order to facilitate vaccine development," said Trevett.

USAA and the Greehey Family Foundation, named for NuStar Energy LP Chairman Bill Greehey, provided seed funding to launch the vaccine center. The State of Texas also provided matching funds. But the center is now running low on cash and needs a booster shot of capital to meet its mission.

"We have about $300,000 remaining, so we need to refill the bank in order to best carry out our programs," Trevett told me.

One way the center could secure more financial support is through more joint applications from its stakeholder institutions for federal funding.

"The best mix of financial support is one of charitable dollars, federal research support and state matching funds," Trevett said. "Our success in raising funds naturally will determine the breadth of our programs, but it is too soon to tell the level of support we are likely to muster."

The center has been tasked with incentivizing collaborative research and drawing more attention to San Antonio's work in the infectious disease arena.

Under Trevett's leadership, the center will also work to promote greater immunization rates - particularly among children - in the Alamo City. He said San Antonio lags behind many other cities in use of vaccinations.

"This program needs to be fleshed out and implemented," he said.

Texas Biomed President Dr. Robert Gracy, another co-founder of the vaccine institute, credits Trevett with bringing together scientists with different views and research interests to work more constructively in unison. He believes the former Texas BioMed president can help inspire more collaboration within and secure more funding for the center as executive director.

"Not only did (Trevett) get donors to the table to fund the center's programs, he got people focused on working together towards common goals," Gracy said.

Trevett, who is also chairman of BioMed SA, said he decided to take the executive director position with the vaccine center because San Antonio needs to foster more collaboration in drug development.
"I believe so strongly that institutions must work more closely together to take advantage of each others' intellectual strengths, physical assets and infrastructure," he said. "Not only is this important from a program development perspective. It is equally important in terms of putting money - whether charitable or public funds - to the best possible use."

W. Scott Bailey covers health care, tourism, sports business, economic development; he also plans and edits some special reports.

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