DECEMBER 9, 2020
1:00 - 4:45 pm CST








“Connecting the Dots: Strong Policies Foster Life Saving Innovations”

View the Program


The Luminary Award is presented to individuals for their contributions and efforts to further the development of the life science industry in Texas. THBI honors elected officials, patient advocates, researchers, and industry leaders. This year, THBI will be presenting the Luminary Award to Governor Greg Abbott for his dedication to furthering the life science industry in Texas and for this response to the coronavirus pandemic; Patient Advocate Khrystal Davis, JD, Founder and President of Texas Rare Alliance, for her advocacy and dedication to patients with rare diseases and for her efforts to improve access to life saving medications; and to all Texas health care workers on the front lines responding to the coronavirus. To honor their dedication, Texas elected officials in the healthcare profession will accept the award on behalf of those workers.
Governor Greg Abbott 
Khrystal K. Davis, JD, Founder & President, Texas Rare Alliance
On behalf of health care workers:

Texas U.S. Representative Michael Burgess, MD
Texas U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson
Texas State Senator Dawn Buckingham, MD
Texas State Senator Donna Campbell, MD
Texas State Senator Charles Schwertner, MD
Texas State Representative Greg Bonnen, MD
Texas State Representative Donna Howard
Texas State Representative Stephanie Klick
Texas State Representative Tom Oliverson, MD
Texas State Representative J.D. Sheffield, DO


Thank you to the generous sponsors of this event.

Presenting Sponsor

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

PhRMA represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested nearly $1 trillion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $83 billion in 2019 alone.


Amgen is one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies. Amgen is a value-based company, deeply rooted in science and innovation to transform new ideas and discoveries into medicines for patients with serious illnesses.

Justin Hudman - jhudman@amgen.com

Austin Community College Biotechnology Program 

New employees start around $28,541. Average pay is $40,465 per year and experienced employees can earn up to $62,375. There are about Sixty Job openings annually and the program has a 90% to 100% placement rate. The program offers a fast track level one certificate (one year), an AAS degree (2 years) for students without a 4-year degree, and an advanced technical certificate (one year) for students with a 4-year degree in an appropriate science (E.g. biology or chemistry).

Classes are small at 6 students (as a result of Covid 19) and are taught by highly qualified individuals including individuals from industry. The program is offered at night at EVC campus and during the day at RRC. Both sites are equipped with state of the art equipment. Courses are aligned with the Texas Skill Standards in the Biosciences that were and are validated by industry.

Austin Community College is home to the ACC Bioscience Incubator and the incubator was started with a grant to ACC via the Biotechnology Program. ACC students work and/or do internships in the incubator.

The program is also home to the InnovATEBIO, the National Biotechnology Education Center. The center is responsible for coordinating biotechnology workforce education in the nation and was funded by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Program at 7. 5 M. for 5 years.

Check out the program at the Austin Community College and the InnovATEBIO center.

Dr. Linnea Fletcher - linneaf@austincc.edu
Poornima Rao - poornima.rao@austincc.edu

Biotechnology Innovation Industry (BIO)

    BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

    Brittany Calderon - bcalderon@bio.org


Cancer Insight

    Cancer Insight’s mission is to discover, develop, test, and bring to market emerging immunotherapies.  Under the leadership of its CEO, Dr. George Peoples, MD, Cancer Insight is on the vanguard of developing novel immunotherapies.  Cancer Insight is a cutting-edge clinical Contract Research Organization (CRO) that designs and executes immuno–oncology (IO) clinical trials. 

    Cancer Insight offers a vertical range of CRO services from trial design to final execution, with a foundation grounded on decades of scientific research and clinical trial experience.  While providing the comprehensive CRO services needed to execute a clinical trial, Cancer Insight also offers consultation on trial design, regulatory strategy, and clinical development strategy.  Cancer Insight is conducting multiple trials in vaccines, personalized IO products, mABs, checkpoint inhibitors, therapeutic proteins, immune-modulators, and combinations of these agents.  Cancer Insight has an extensive network of collaborators and subject matter experts, as well as a vast network of study sites at both academic institutions and high volume community practices. 



CRB is a global design, construction, and consulting firm that relentlessly pursues and delivers success for our clients in advanced technology industries. CRB was founded in 1984 as a single three-person office and has grown to a team of more than 1,200 passionate professionals in 18 offices throughout the world. We design and build some of the most powerful facilities in the world – those that change people’s lives.


Bill Poole - Bill.Poole@crbusa.com

DisperSol Technologies 


Merck aspires to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world

For more than 125 years, Merck (known as MSD outside of the U.S. and Canada) has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives.

We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships.

Today, we continue to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases, such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases.


Holly Turner - holly.turner@merck.com



    Otsuka in the U.S.

    Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company is a global healthcare company with the corporate philosophy: “Otsuka–people creating new products for better health worldwide.” Otsuka researches, develops, manufactures and markets innovative products, with a focus on pharmaceutical products to meet unmet medical needs and nutraceutical products for the maintenance of everyday health.

    In pharmaceuticals, Otsuka is a leader in the challenging area of mental health and also has research 
    programs on several under-addressed diseases including tuberculosis, a significant global public health issue. These commitments illustrate how Otsuka is a “big venture” company at heart, applying a youthful spirit of creativity in everything it does.

    Otsuka established a presence in the U.S. in 1973 and today its U.S. affiliates include Otsuka 
    Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc. (OPDC) and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. (OAPI). These companies’ 1,800 employees in the U.S. develop and commercialize medicines in mental health, oncology, cardio-renal and nephrology, using cutting-edge technology to address unmet healthcare needs. Otsuka’s most recently approved product in the U.S. is indicated for the treatment of adults with schizophrenia and as an adjunctive therapy to antidepressant medications for adults with major depressive disorder. In the medical device field, Otsuka markets a urea breath test used to detect H. pylori infection in the digestive tract.

    OPDC and OAPI are indirect subsidiaries of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd., which is a subsidiary 
    of Otsuka Holdings Co., Ltd. headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The Otsuka group of companies employed 6,000 people worldwide and had consolidated sales of approximately USD 11.1 billion in 2017.

    All Otsuka stories start by taking the road less travelled. Learn more about Otsuka in the U.S. at 
    otsuka-us.com. Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.’s global website is accessible at otsuka.co.jp/en/.

    Learn more about Otsuka here



Breakthroughs That Change Patients’ Lives

At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day,

Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world's premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us. We routinely post information that may be important to investors on our website at Pfizer.com.


Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals


Ultragenyx is a biopharmaceutical company committed to bringing to patients novel products for the treatment of rare and ultra-rare genetic diseases. We aim to address diseases with high unmet medical need and clear biology for treatment, for which there are typically no approved therapies treating the underlying disease. We believe that we can deliver significant value to our patients by building a diverse and high-quality pipeline of rare disease therapeutics and efficiently transforming good science into great medicine. Our diversified pipeline includes 3 approved therapies and ~20 programs in clinical or pre-clinical development.


Our primary responsibility is to our patients, and we are passionate about educating and supporting patients, families and caregivers affected by rare and ultra-rare diseases. We work with advocacy groups to provide support and outreach to individuals and families affected by these disorders and engage them in the drug development process.


Julie Haeber -     jhaeber@ultragenyx.com



Established in 1972 by The University of Texas System Board of Regents, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) is Houston’s Health University and Texas’ resource for health care education, innovation, scientific discovery and excellence in patient care. The most comprehensive academic health center in the UT System and the U.S. Gulf Coast region, UTHealth is home to Jane and Robert Cizik School of Nursing - consistently ranked in the top five percent, John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School - the sixth largest in the nation, and schools of biomedical informatics - the first and only of its kind, biomedical sciences - a joint school with MD Anderson Cancer Center, dentistry - more than 115 years old, and public health - with six campuses across the state and the fourth largest in the nation. UTHealth includes the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center, as well as the growing clinical practices UT Physicians, UT Dentists, and UT Health Services. The university’s primary teaching hospitals are Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.

As a comprehensive health science university, the mission of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston is to educate health science professionals, discover and translate advances in the biomedical and social sciences, and model the best practices in clinical care and public health.

We pursue this mission in order to advance the quality of human life by enhancing the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and injury, as well as promoting individual health and community well-being.

Excellence above all in the quest to be an acknowledged leader in the collaboration to treat, cure and prevent the most common diseases of our time through education, research and clinical practice.

Pamela Kennedy - Pamela.Kennedy@uth.tmc.edu

​UT Health San Antonio


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, also known as UT Health San Antonio, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education and the premier academic research center in San Antonio and South Texas. With missions of teaching, research, patient care and community engagement, its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have graduated more than 37,000 alumni who are leading change, advancing their fields and renewing hope for patients and their families throughout South Texas and the world. The UT Health Science Center at San  Antonio is ranked in the top 3 percent worldwide for all organizations that receive National Institutes of Health funding. It is the chief catalyst for the $40.2 billion health care and biosciences sector of the San Antonio economy, the city’s largest economic sector. To learn about the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit uthscsa.edu.