Since the 1970s, Mary Pat Moyer has been very active in the academic, government, and industry Life Science Communities in San Antonio, the State of Texas, nationally and internationally. She served as the President of the San Antonio Life Science Association for about 20 years, as an advisor to many educational and economic development programs and as a co-founder or board member of multiple technology-based support organizations, such as BioMed SA. In Texas, MP served as Co-Chair for Biotechnology in the Texas Technology Initiative & was appointed by the governor to the Texas Workforce Investment Council.
Early Years Recognizing Leadership
Mary Pat Moyer was active in educating elected officials about stem cells, cell-based therapies, and the sciencebusiness interface for technology companies in this field. She has received company and individual recognition from many types of peer-reviewed awards, including grants and contracts and specific awards, such as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the international Athena Award, AAUW “Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award” and one of the “Top Ten Texas CEOs in Life Sciences”. Pinnacle peer recognition awards have been her academy elections to the American Academy of Microbiology (1991), the National Academy of Engineering (2019) and The Academy of Medicine Engineering, and Science of Texas (2019).
A Family Biotechnology Business
Mary Pat Moyer founded INCELL Corporation LLC in 1993 after 3 life-changing events. She got divorced, government research funds were drying up, and her department chairman was going to retire. Thus, she was stimulated to “re-invent” herself as a scientist-entrepreneur by founding INCELL as a path for taking care of her children and her staff. Important considerations at start-up: INCELL was incubated within a more established earlystage company and had access to an office and lab facilities. This made INCELL eligible to compete for small business grants. The company’s first SBIR award was from NIH in 1995. A 50%-time commitment was required, so she gave up her tenure and went part-time at UT Health. The team also all agreed to continue seeking small business grants and contracts as part of the early stage investment in the company. Unlike most other early-stage companies, INCELL has always had something to sell.
The company has evolved from being mainly research products and research-focused to be a product developer & manufacturer of clinical use devices and human cell and tissue products. The company is unique in having very broad-ranging and multidisciplinary expertise. The manufactured products, which are INCELL’s or are made for other companies, are regulated by the U.S. FDA and various international regulatory agencies. This requires a robust quality system with huge investments of time, money & qualifications of the staff, facilities, and equipment. The company has had both ups and downs, with most of the downs related to trusting partners, and collaborators who were not trustworthy. Currently, INCELL is developing a COVID-19 vaccine and cell-based therapy for patients struggling with pneumonia and the cytokine storm that damages lungs and can be fatal. INCELL is also pursuing products and preparative work for clinical trials to treat joint pain, degenerative diseases, neurological diseases, regenerative medicine, and cancer.
Doctoral Studies Overcoming Odds
Mary Pat Moyer chose Ph.D. program offered by the highly-rated Microbiology Department at the University of Texas at Austin, which included in-state tuition and a teaching assistantship. So, she drove a U-Haul, pulling her little VW beetle, from Florida to Texas in 1973. To keep her living costs low, she purchased a mobile home, but was shocked that Texas law required a woman to have a man cosign! Mary took all her first-year coursework and did her student teaching. With her MS Degree and background, she worked full-time as a Cancer Researcher and Lab Manager, published and gave presentations on her work, and was active in professional science organizations.
Professor, Scientist and Trailblazer
When Mary Pat Moyer graduated in 1981, she refused to do a post-doc since she had 13 years’ experience in science and management. She was tethered to San Antonio by her family, so she sought a faculty position at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio. MP had many offers, and many comments like “you can’t have a faculty position without a post-doc” and she responded: “Yes I can, you just need to hire me!” She accepted an Instructor appointment in the Surgery Department in July 1981, even though her dissertation work emphasized molecular virology, cell biology, and cancer. She was considered a trailblazer because she was the department’s first woman faculty member and first Ph.D. She was assigned 120 sq. ft. lab with a new biosafety cabinet, a cell culture incubator, and only $5,000 “start-up” money. Professionally, the attraction of the position was that she would essentially be her own boss with the freedom to operate – and succeed or fail—on her own. The technical attraction was that she was an excellent cell culturist, and the surgeons had “throw away body parts”, that she knew she could grow in culture—and she did!
This was foundational to becoming an expert in many types of stem and progenitor cells and formulating media. After being in her job for a month, MP audaciously asked and was promoted to Assistant Professor, arguing that she would then be more competitive for getting the grants and contracts to support the research. So, she did what she was tasked to do: “create research” in the department, work with other faculty on projects, teach formal classes, train residents & student researchers, and set up a functional lab. MP became the Surgery Dept. Research Division Head, was Director of the Center for Human Cell Biotechnology & Director of the SA Cancer Institute Cell and Tissue Bioprocessing Core and managed the biocontainment research facility. She was also cross- appointed in 4 other departments. Over time, she built infrastructure and established relationships & friendships in the science, education, and business communities. She built a reputation of blunt honesty & integrity, and the team and she did very good work in many areas of surgical research, regenerative medicine, cancer, and infectious diseases and spent hundreds of hours in the library. She developed contract services activities through the Centers she managed. She achieved the leadership, funding, research, teaching, community education/outreach, peer recognition, reputation, and other requirements of her job & promotions. In 1989, she became a tenured Full Professor, joining only 4 other women faculty at that level. She was selected for various review panels for professional service to national & international organizations, government agencies, publications, and private industry.