OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Christian University has converted a section of the Undergraduate Research Laboratory into a biotech business incubator and welcomed a startup launched in September 2019 by an OC graduate as the first incubator occupant.
Excitant Therapeutics occupies two offices in OC’s Herold Science Hall and a lab bench in its Undergraduate Research Laboratory.
“Excitant Therapeutics is developing a small molecule, oral delivery drug for patients who have diabetic retinopathy,” said Jeff McCormack, Ph.D., dean of OC’s College of Natural and Health Sciences. “We’re proud that we’ve launched our biotech incubator with a company founded by an OC alum and graduate of our natural sciences program.”
OC alum Henry Shin, Ph.D., is co-founder and CEO of Excitant Therapeutics. The company was founded by Shin and Drs. Jian-Xing (Jay) Ma and Adam Duerfeldt based on research the trio conducted into a novel treatment for eye diseases.
Shin earned his undergraduate degree in biology at OC and went on to earn a Ph.D. in physiology at OU under the mentorship of Ma, laureate professor and chairman of OU’s Department of Physiology.
“OC has really nice laboratory space that we’re happy to utilize as we pursue development of our novel therapeutic for diabetic retinopathy,” Shin said. “I’m grateful that Dr. McCormack and OC administration worked with us to develop this unique incubator space to launch our company on their campus.”
For OC, the incubator space and new company offers potential employment opportunities for current students, McCormack said.
“We want to celebrate and support our graduates who pursue research into the area of sciences,’ he said. “And this is an opportunity for our current students to see that this is a career pathway to consider. Going to medical school or PA school is great, but there are other options.”
In addition to Shin, a second Excitant employee, Anna Wang, Ph.D., works in the OC laboratory with Shin.
OC expects to welcome a second startup launched by an alumnus in its incubator space within a few months, McCormack said.
“Our Undergraduate Research Laboratory is a great resource for us,” McCormack said. “We pleased that it can be put to use to help launch new companies and nurture them as they take their first steps in product development.”
ABOUT EXCITANT THERAPEUTICS
Excitant Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical start-up based in Oklahoma City, OK. It is focused on developing novel therapeutic agents for ophthalmic diseases, especially those with dysfunctional microvasculature basis such as Diabetic Retinopathy, Diabetic Macular Edema, and Age-related Macular Degeneration. With its world-class scientific expertise in this field, the company strives to translate its science to enhance current standard of care for many ophthalmic diseases. “Our Science, Your Vision!”