Prominent Professor Delivers Two Lectures at Birzeit University

“Coming up with a great medical breakthrough is one thing, but actually creating a business out of it is a whole different endeavor,” said Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at Washington University in Saint Louis School of Medicine Dr. Abdul Kareem Azab at the the first of two lectures he gave at Birzeit University on 18 November 2017.

The first lecture, organized by the Faculty of Business and Economics under the title “Challenges and Opportunities in Translating Biomedical Research into a Successful Business,” explored the realities and challenges of turning medical developments and discoveries into viable business.

Dr. Azab, who founded Cellatrix LLC and Targeted Therapeutics LLC, detailed the process of creating and sustaining a business in the medical research field: “The very first step is to find a need in the market that your product fulfills - a solution to a problem. Even if your product has a ton of innovation behind it, customers will not perceive its value unless it solves their problems.”

“After establishing your product’s profile,” added Dr. Azab, “you need to create a marketing profile. This is where a lot of people fail, because they try to be both scientists and businesspeople, when in reality most can be only one or the other. Create a team of technical, business, and legal experts and delegate tasks accordingly.”

Dr. Azab also discussed the formation of an exit strategy. “Think about your exit strategy. Do you want to be acquired by a big pharmaceutical firm? Or do you prefer to remain independent? This discussion should be held with your team so that your business and legal structures and technical prowess fit neatly into the overall firm’s strategy.”

The second lecture given by Dr. Azab, organized by the Faculty of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Professions, was held under the title “Multidisciplinary Approaches for Cancer Therapy: from Cancer Biology, through Tissue Engineering, to Targeted Drug Delivery.”

“Analyzing the underlying mechanisms of myeloma development, in particular, and malignant blood cancers helps in innovating new, breakthrough medications and in designing new treatment strategies,” Dr. Azab added.

The Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in Saint Louis School of Engineering and Applied Sciences also discussed the shortcomings of chemotherapy, “Current treatments for cancer are mostly drug-based that utilize chemotherapeutic agents as a main strategy. While prevalent, chemotherapy is not without its demerits. Such treatments exhibit no specific targeting of the cancer cells, which affects healthy, normal tissues too, and they induce side effects as well as systemic toxicity.”

“Modern treatment strategies,” Dr. Azab continued, “target the tumor areas with higher dosages of active drug ingredients while avoiding the healthy cells and tissues, thereby overcoming the limitations of regular chemotherapy.”