World-renowned NanoMedicine Pioneer, Dr. Mauro Ferrari, previously Chief Commercialization Officer and Executive Vice President of Houston Methodist Research Institute, will join the administration at the University of St. Thomas part-time as Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Community Partnerships. His appointment was announced to the community on March 11.
Dr. Ferrari recently retired from his post at Houston Methodist Research to pursue other opportunities in research, education, entrepreneurship, and service to the underprivileged.
“As a supporter through his leadership with UST’s Master in Clinical Translation program, a member of our Board of Directors, and now an employee of UST, Dr. Ferrari is well situated to forge strong new relationships between UST and the greater Houston area, as well as national and international partnerships,” UST President Dr. Richard Ludwick said. “He also has a passion for helping underserved populations, which aligns him strongly with our mission. I am confident he will make a wonderful addition to the team and a significant impact.”
Collaboration with UST
While at Methodist Research Institute, Dr. Ferrari collaborated with University of St. Thomas to establish a graduate degree program Master in Clinical Translation Management. This primarily online program, housed in the University’s Cameron School of Business, helps students learn to turn basic discoveries that occur in laboratories to usable drugs, medical devices or clinical processes.
“We have created this MCTM program, the first in the nation, to focus on those bottlenecks that make the process of translation so long and expensive. We are at the right time at the right place a little bit ahead of the curve, which is where we want to be. In a very short period, the MCTM program has become nationally recognized as one of the best programs in the nation and that gives me great joy,” he said.
Dr. Ferrari also served on the Call Toward Tomorrow strategic planning committee and was appointed to the UST Board of Directors last year. He views his new appointment as an executive extension of his responsibilities as a member of UST’s Board of Directors, in continuation of his collaboration and service to the institution and its mission.
Retracing His Steps from Mechanical Engineer to Nanoscientist
Following a death in his immediate family almost 25 years ago, Dr. Ferrari set out on a quest to help find a cure for metastatic cancer.
Dr. Ferrari started his studies as a mathematical physicist then received a masters and a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Berkeley, where he also became a tenured professor of engineering. He then moved into medicine at the Ohio State University, where he served as professor and department chair, but also started medical school at age 43.
Dr. Ferrari is a scientist and educator, who is known for leadership in founding the field of nanomedicine. He was the chief architect of the Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer in 2004 at the National Cancer Institute. He moved to Houston in 2006 to join the faculty of UT Health, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Rice University, prior to accepting the position of President and CEO of the Houston Methodist Research Institute, and EVP of the Houston Methodist Hospital.
At Houston Methodist, Dr. Ferrari oversaw all research and education programs. Dr. Ferrari ‘s research has led to developing new technologies for health care applications like drug delivery and cancer therapeutics. Dr. Ferrari has produced more than 500 publications, including seven books and 46 issued patents in the United States and Europe, and received many national and international awards. He was recently inducted in the National Academy of Inventors.
Appointment to the Pontifical Academy for Life
Dr. Ferrari is faithful and believes that science and faith are not in mutual opposition, but may actually serve to strengthen each other, in their common objective of serving those in greatest need.
Recently, Pope Francis appointed Dr. Ferrari to the Pontifical Academy for Life, which comprises members of different faiths, as well as atheist, to help provide the Holy See with a window over the most advanced research and ethical question in medicine and biology.
“The Pontifical Academy was established in 1982 by John Paul II,” Dr. Ferrari said, “with the rationale that medical research has transformed healthcare. This research continues to grow and change the world so fast that the Holy Father felt it would be appropriate to have a body of experts who would report on these transformations and their societal impact.
“I am a member of two working groups, one that deals with ethics that come with new discoveries in neurology and neurotechnology, the other one deals with end-of-life care,” Dr. Ferrari said.
Relaxing is a Verb
When Dr. Ferrari is not conquering new ground in medicine, he plays the blues on a jazz saxophone at various gigs around town and he runs marathons. To date, he has run more than 30 marathons with his favorite being ‘ultra-marathons” up mountains, which he calls “mystical experiences.”
“You should never give up on yourself,” Ferrari said. “In my 50’s I started running marathons, while near my 60’s I found my singing voice, and learned a new instrument, the baritone saxophone.”
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