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SOP Abilene to Open Center for Immunotherapeutic Research

The TTUHSC School of Pharmacy Abilene regional campus has established its first Center of Excellence, a research center specifically designed to study immunology strategies to detect and treat human diseases.

In December, the Texas Tech University Board of Regents granted its approval to an agreement between TTUHSC and the Development Corporation of Abilene that will result in the Center for Immunotherapeutic Research, which will be located at the SOP's Abilene regional campus.

The Center's mission includes improving the healthcare of people by developing and implementing novel immune-based approaches to detect and treat human diseases. It will feature technologies such as gene expression and protein engineering, hybridoma generation for monoclonal antibodies, microscopy and flow-cytometry. A Human Immunology Core will provide support for clinical trials that will focus upon cancer treatment and immune interventions.

Under terms of the agreement, TTUHSC will spend $4.5 million and the DCOA will spend $3 million to develop the Center during the next five years.

One of the Center's primary goals of the will be to commercialize research. Dr. Jon Weidanz, an associate professor at the SOP's Abilene campus, will be director for the new center. Dr. Weidanz helped bring the SOP its first commercialized research venture in 2004 when he founded Receptor Logic, a company that researches antibodies capable of attacking cancerous cells.

The Center for Immunotherapeutic Research is presently working to establish its research infrastructure and will eventually employ seven faculty members and a total of six graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and administrative assistants. Dr. Weidanz said his goal is to hire one of the faculty members sometime this summer and two more in 2009.