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Pitt's LifeX biotechnology center starts with $2M grant from Hillman Foundation

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 12:33 p.m.
Samples of mini organs are magnified with microscope at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, Netherlands, on Monday, May 29, 2017.
Samples of mini organs are magnified with microscope at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, Netherlands, on Monday, May 29, 2017.

University of Pittsburgh's biotechnology center will tackle some of medicine's biggest challenges for its initial focus.

LifeX's first batch of companies are working on therapies, drugs and medical innovations to fight cancer and on treatments to address Alzheimer's disease, multidrug resistant bacteria, obesity, diabetes and rare genetic diseases.

The biotech commercialization center launched by Pitt in December opened its first headquarters in the Strip District this week and announced a $2 million grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation to help it get off the ground. More information about its first cohort of companies is available on its website .

“Pittsburgh's life sciences pioneers brought the world the polio vaccine, liver transplantation and innumerable other innovations that have transformed the lives of so many across the globe,” Dietrich Stephan, CEO and founder of LifeX, said in a statement. “The LifeX team is proud to have the Hillman Foundation's support as we continue this longstanding legacy of facilitating cures to the most devastating and prevalent causes of suffering and death.”

LifeX's headquarters will be a mix of office and lab space. The center hopes to pair entrepreneurs with health experts experienced in formulating new pharmaceuticals, designing new medical devices and other skills.

LifeX is raising $25 million to invest as early-stage capital in the companies working in its lab. LifeX also is raising money for a larger fund that will invest in other companies and in developing an investment portfolio of startup pharmaceutical companies.

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