Texas Biomedical Research Institute recently named a new interim president and CEO to replace Kenneth Trevett, who left the position in May. Robert Gracy, a professor from the University of Texas at San Antonio, who was already serving as Vice President for Research at the university and as interim chief scientific officer for Texas Biomed since March, will take over the role of president and CEO effective immediately.
Dr. Gracy’s position is interim, and he will be leading the institute’s business and research activities until the Texas Biomed names a permanent president and CEO, which may not happen until next year. Texas Biomed has stipulated that Gracy is not a candidate for the permanent position.
“We are fortunate that Bob Gracy could step into this additional leadership role for Texas Biomed,” the Board Chairman Richard Schlosberg said to W. Scott Bailey from the San Antonio Business Journal. “He is an accomplished academic leader and respected scientist who is a natural fit in this situation as we begin the search for a permanent president and CEO. We have tasked Dr. Gracy with being an active leader for Texas Biomed, since it likely will be next year before a new CEO can come on board.”
With a B.S. in Chemistry and Biological Sciences from California Polytechnic University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Gracy was a Fellow of the Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany. He is also a professor of Biology and Chemistry, and has served as Chairman of Biochemistry and Dean of Research at UTSA.
His main research focuses on aging and chronic diseases resulting from oxidative damage, which includes age-related damage to skin, the cornea, lens, and chronic neuropathies such as Alzheimer’s disease. He received both Research Career Development and MERIT awards from the National Institutes of Health, as well as other key research awards through the course of his career. Gracy was also appointed by the Governor to serve on the Texas Healthcare Information Council.
In May, Trevett resigned as president and CEO of Texas Biomed, as the institute explained that he wanted “to concentrate his time on developing new personal opportunities and options” in management and business operations. “Ken Trevett has made major contributions to Texas Biomed in his nearly six years as president and CEO,” Schlosberg said. “We respect his desire to focus on the interesting opportunities that are coming his way. Dr. Gracy’s willingness to assume this additional responsibility is a solution that works well for all of us.”
Robert Gracy also said he was grateful for the work done by Kenneth Trevett. “It was Ken who asked me to serve as interim chief scientific officer earlier this year, and it is an honor to follow in his footsteps here at Texas Biomed. I am not a candidate in the CEO search, but am committed to working in all aspects of this job until a successor can be identified and arrive on campus,” he stated.
The president and CEO position at Texas Biomed is being filled at a time when the institute is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Although the reason for the investigation has not been confirmed, it is known that animal rights activists have complained several times about alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, that they claim may have contributed to the death and injury of primates.
Texas Biomed voiced concerns over a proposal put forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June of 2013 that sought to deem captive research chimpanzees as “endangered,” thus removing them from the list of animals available for use in developing treatments for deadly human diseases. At the time, Texas Biomed noted that the development of the Hepatitis B vaccine could not have been achieved without the use of research chimpanzees, and that the proposed ban would threaten further research into Hepatitis B and other deadly diseases.