Evidence that It Takes a Public Research University to Build Our New Economy

Kinex Pharmaceuticals Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder David Hangauer exemplifies how the University at Buffalo is helping grow the 21 century economy in Western New York and around the world. Now retired UB Associate Professor Hangauer developed the concepts in his chemistry lab, worked with UB STOR to commercialize the process and then collaborated with two other UB graduates to start the biotech business in 2004.

In his lab, Hangauer, PhD ’80 developed a synthetic chemistry process critical to computer-aided drug design. The start-up company focused on the development and commercialization of next-generation therapies for cancer. It grew over the years and now has a few hundred employees locally. Its growth precipitated a move to the recently built Conventus Building, which was designed to link clinical, research and academic entities on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Recognized as an inventor and entrepreneur, Hangauer has received several honors for his research and commercialization achievements, and much support along the way. UB STOR was instrumental in the early years, filing patents and licensing the technology upon which the company was built. UB President Satish K. Tripathi noted Hangauer’s work and the role of UB, calling it “the true innovative and intellectually creative work of faculty that defines the best of public research universities … the discovery, application and transmission of new knowledge is perpetuated, not only today, but throughout generations to come.”

Kinex has raised more than $200 million in funding since it started, with the more recent activity coming from large institutional investors and wealthy business owners in China and Asia. It is widely considered one of the most promising life sciences companies to come out the medical campus collaborations as it pivots from drug research and development into drug testing and manufacturing.

Kinex chairman and CEO Dr. Johnson Y.N. Lau has said: “We are no longer just a New York or a Western New York company. We are already having a global outreach.” The company website says it is dedicated to delivering innovative drugs that can have a life-changing impact on patients. It has offices in Buffalo, New Jersey, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.