Evestra Debuts | May 19, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 20 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 20 | p. 10 | News of The Week
Issue Date: May 19, 2008

Evestra Debuts

Firm spun off from private foundation will focus on women's health
Department: Business

The Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio is spinning off its organic chemistry department as a for-profit business. The new company, called Evestra, will focus on women's health. It will get assets, personnel, and start-up funding from SFBR, which will be a majority shareholder. Evestra will seek additional funding from local area investors.

SFBR, founded in 1941 by oilman, rancher, and philanthropist Thomas B. Slick Jr., is part of the Southwest Research Consortium, which includes the University of Texas Health Science Center, the Southwest Research Institute, Trinity University, and the University of Texas, all in San Antonio.

Since 1978, SFBR's organic chemistry department has operated in large part as a chemical synthesis facility for the contraceptive development branch of NIH's National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. In this role it has received a total of about $18 million in NIH funding.

The department has specialized in discovering and synthesizing steroids and other compounds under the direction of SFBR senior scientist Pemmaraju N. Rao. He will become Evestra's senior vice president for research. Joining him at Evestra as executives will be CEO Ze'ev Shaked, former chief operating officer and head of R&D at ILEX Oncology, and Chief Scientific Officer Klaus Nickisch, who was a senior vice president at Schering AG.

According to Shaked, Evestra is positioned to "hit the ground running." Its drug development pipeline will include candidates for fertility control, hormone replacement therapy, and oncology. The firm will also generate revenue from synthesizing steroids for NIH.

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