Southern Research announced that Jay Liu, Ph.D., an experienced biotech industry innovator and entrepreneur, has joined its Drug Discovery division as director of technology development and innovation.
In this new role, Liu will seek to expand Southern Research’s drug discovery capabilities in areas that include biologics and monoclonal antibodies, which are revolutionizing the treatment of many serious and chronic diseases.
Liu, who has worked for both biotech startups and pharmaceutical industry giants, will also strive to advance promising projects already in Southern Research’s drug discovery pipeline along the path to product development.
“Southern Research is known for its rich history in drug discovery and its focus on innovative research,” Liu said. “What I want to achieve is to push these projects forward so that a pharmaceutical company or venture capitalist investors will want to work with us so that we can deliver a commercial product.”
Mark J. Suto, Ph.D., vice president of Southern Research’s Drug Discovery division, said Liu’s scientific background and wide-ranging industry experience in the U.S. and China will bring significant benefits to the Birmingham-based non-profit organization and allow it to move into new research areas.
“One of our most important missions is identifying new therapeutics that will have an impact on people’s lives. Jay’s industry experience in both research clinical development of new concepts will facilitate efforts to move our research from the lab into collaborations that accelerate product development,” Suto said.
Before joining Southern Research, Liu served as CEO of China’s Nanjing Galaxy Biotech and Suzhou Galaxy Biopharma, where he directed a team of around 70 scientists developing biologic treatments for cancer, autoimmune disorders and hepatitis C.
In 2010, he co-founded China’s Rugen Therapeutics Inc., where he formed alliances with academic labs and research organizations around the world while also building a drug discovery capability that targeted central nervous system diseases. During his tenure, the Rugen team developed several candidate drugs that were licensed for clinical evaluation as treatments for autism and bipolar disorders.
In 1995, Liu started his career in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, which included jobs at Merck and AstraZeneca. During this time, he led teams that delivered five investigational new drugs, two of which completed Phase II clinical studies.
Liu holds a doctorate in pharmacology from the State University of New York at Buffalo and also studied at SIMM (Chinese Academy of Sciences) and the University of California, Davis. He received postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health, where he focused on new approaches for treating diabetes.
He has published more than 30 research papers and has filed 10 patent applications.
“I have always been interested in discovering new drugs that help patients,” Liu said. “Southern Research is very exciting place for that work, with seven FDA-approved cancer drugs created here. There are not many places that can do that.”