Innovation

Texas Medical Center taps Thomas Luby, Ph.D., to lead TMC Innovation Institute

The TMC Innovation Institute begins a new chapter with a new leader


Thomas Luby, Ph.D., took the reins of the TMC Innovation Institute this spring. Photo by Cody Duty/Texas Medical Center. Thomas Luby, Ph.D., took the reins of the TMC Innovation Institute this spring. Photo by Cody Duty/Texas Medical Center.
By Ryan Holeywell | March 29, 2019

Thomas Luby, Ph.D., seemed destined for a career in health care. As the son of pharmacists, Luby practically grew up in the back of the New York pharmacy his family owned. He studied biology as an undergraduate, but things didn’t go exactly as he planned.

Originally, he hoped to become a high school biology teacher. “Then I realized I liked working in the lab way too much,” Luby said.

Instead, he earned a doctorate in immunology from Tufts University and spent the rest of his career on the cutting edge of the pharmaceutical and medical device sector. Now, he’s bringing that expertise to his new role as director of the TMC Innovation Institute, the Texas Medical Center’s effort to support the development of breakthrough medical technologies. It’s a role he sees as critical—not just to the future of Houston, but to the future of medicine.

“I don’t think big corporations will be the innovators,” Luby said. “Startups are the ones who find the solutions that eventually benefit patients.”

Luby comes to the TMC Innovation Institute from his office just down the hallway where, since 2017, he’s led JLABS @ TMC, the Johnson & Johnson Innovation incubator housed at the Texas Medical Center. JLABS @ TMC, the largest JLABS facility in the United States, provides startups with the infrastructure they need to build and test state-of-the-art medical technology.

Luby never expected to be a major force in the innovation efforts of America’s fourth-largest city. During a lengthy career in research and development and business development with Boston-area biotech startups, Luby never visited Houston, except for airport layovers. But he says he is embracing his role helping to develop Houston’s startup ecosystem.

“My role at JLABS has allowed me to see the commitment and investment that TMC is making,” Luby said. “If you’re a startup health care company, you have a better chance of being successful if you’re here in Houston.” Luby takes the reins of the TMC Innovation Institute at a time of rapid expansion.

The institute now includes the TMCx accelerator— currently in the midst of its eighth cohort of startup companies—along with JLABS, Johnson & Johnson’s Center for Device Innovation, the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health, the TMCx+ incubator and coworking space, the TMC Venture Fund and the soon-to-launch TMCxi space.

“We’ve benefited from the work that’s already been done, building these programs up from scratch,” Luby said. “Now is the time to pull it all together.”

A top priority for Luby will be working with startups and corporate partners to provide them with a “seamless, integrated experience” as they interact with the multiple components of the TMC Innovation Institute. “We’re going to create an experience where, when a startup walks through the door, we’ll be able to help them get to the place they need to be,” Luby said. “It will be service and an experience they’ll see nowhere else in the world.” And, he said, the TMC Innovation Institute will work not just with companies, but also with individuals who have bold ideas and are seeking help starting up new businesses.

“Tom Luby is an outstanding individual and his proven track record working with startups in Boston and within the walls of JLABS @ TMC will serve him well as he leads us through the next evolutionary phase of the TMC Innovation Institute,” said William McKeon, president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center.

Luby is joined by Lance Black, M.D., who recently became the associate director of the TMC Innovation Institute. Black, who also has an engineering degree and served in the U.S. Air Force, has spent the past two years as the Institute’s medical device lead, working with companies that went through the TMCx accelerator.

“We’re getting higher quality startups coming through the program,” Black said. “We’re getting more traction with TMC member institutions. Advisors and international partners are interested in what we’re doing. Things are really happening here.”

Luby’s long-term goal is to see more startup capital invested in early-stage companies in Houston. And he believes it’s critical that more major health care companies establish significant footprints in Houston. “We’re proud of the community of startups in the medical device world we’ve helped to build,” Luby said. “Houston is now really being seen as a place to be.”




Social Posts

profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

In observance of Men’s Health Month, the experts at UTHealth and @UTPhysicians the clinical practice of @McGovernMed, have identified five things men need to know to keep their health in check: https://t.co/i7EIgZOhWM

22 mins ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

Camp For All 2U brings summer camp to Texas Children's Hospital! Patients are invited to go canoeing, participate in archery and make new friends. Learn more from @HoustonChron : https://t.co/k1slUCnqAn

47 mins ago
profile_image

Memorial Hermann

@memorialhermann

Let’s talk about the Big Four. And we’re not referencing the number of major American pro sports leagues, gentlemen. Read more: https://t.co/INqCdH6RTT. #menshealthmonth https://t.co/iPcveD89NP

57 mins ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Q&A: @SecWilkie on VA Mission Act https://t.co/lEsiraS6o4 via @wvpublic

1 hour ago
profile_image

TAMU Health Sciences

@TAMHSC

Today we opened our brand new research facility! The Medical Research and Education Building II doubles the existing research space for the Health Science Center on the Bryan campus. Whoop! 👍Learn more about the MREB II → https://t.co/DtcNt2hlLY https://t.co/slDVZDeXXF

2 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Our @DavidHongMD explains how tisotumab vedotin works in treating #cervicalcancer: https://t.co/xebLn7m3cI @OncLive #gynsm #endcancer

2 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UHOnlineCoogs: The B.A and B.S in Psychology is offered online. These completion degrees are for students who have some college credit…

2 hours ago
profile_image

CHI St. Luke's Health

@CHI_StLukes

RT @KHOU: Get well soon, Mack! https://t.co/WDk43ZutWp

2 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Want to donate goods or services to MD Anderson to support our patients? Learn about what items can be donated: https://t.co/5HsnmWmxdt #endcancer

3 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UHadmissions: Another week means another #TributeTuesday! Christine Ha, @theblindcook won the @MASTERCHEFonFOX competition, and is also…

3 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@vigilcd @JLo We're thinking of you, Camille. Let us know if you need anything while you're here.

3 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Today marks the 69-year anniversary of the #KoreanWar, which began on June 25, 1950.We thank all #Veterans who served during this conflict and honor their sacrifice.#HonoringVets https://t.co/r8vw723Mxg

3 hours ago
profile_image

Houston Methodist

@MethodistHosp

RT @Daily_Experts: Congratulations to Dr. Tetsuo Ashizawa of Houston Methodist Hospital -- Recognized as an Expertscape World Expert in Ata…

4 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @BCMHouston_News: .@NReflector shares @bcmhouston's tips on how to deal with heat rash this #summer: https://t.co/YeqCp6uQUr

4 hours ago
profile_image

Rice University

@RiceUniversity

RT @RiceCompSci: Read this column by our own @vardi about the first International Workshop on Digital Humanism that was recently held in Vi…

4 hours ago