UT-Baptist Research Park

Dr. Jennings discusses the significance of CirQuest Labs and Memphis' bioscience community

November 2, 2011
Dr. Lisa Jennings, founder of CirQuest Labs
Picture by Troy Glassgow

Dr. Lisa Jennings understands that creating new drugs is important. She also understands that how the drug interacts with the body is even more important. Jennings is the founder of CirQuest Labs, a three-year-old contract research organization (CRO) that provides an array of support services to pharmaceutical companies as well as academic institutions that carry out translational and clinical research. CirQuest Labs, which partners with Innova, is run out of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

“We consult, perform testing, and oversee translational and clinical research efforts,” said Jennings. Jennings is a professor and director of the Vascular Biology Center at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center. It was in this position that she realized the value and need for such an organization as CirQuest. “Over the years, as a professor, I gained a national and international reputation as an expert in therapies that treat clotting problems, particularly in patients who have heart disease,” she said. Using her background, knowledge and reputation, her company now is able to help translate research into patient care.

The company does that by assisting companies in the drug and device discovery process. “We are particularly critical to growing the biotechnology industry in Memphis, as our expertise is geared toward assisting new industry in their product or drug development,” said Jennings. CirQuest doesn’t just assist companies with development of new drugs and technologies, Jennings said the company is able to work through to the commercialization process.

Rosalind Guy sat down with the founder of CirQuest labs, Dr. Lisa Jennings, to discuss the importance of bioscience companies and what CirQuest has planned for the future.

What is the significance of your relationship with Memphis Bioworks?
Memphis Bioworks provided the logistical environment to begin CirQuest Labs. Located next to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center campus, its proximity provides an opportunity for faculty entrepreneurs to initiate biotechnology start-up companies without diverting them from their academic duties and activities. We continue to be housed in the Bioworks footprint, and their infrastructure and support services continue to help us succeed in our efforts and profitability.

Besides you, how many employees does CirQuest Labs have?
CirQuest Labs has nine employees and other consultants that have years of experience in clinical trials and regulatory matters, clinical trial monitoring, clinical laboratory sciences, translational and basic sciences, biostorage, data management and statistics, business operations and development. In addition to a Clinical Operations Officer who is experienced in clinical trials and regulatory affairs, CirQuest has a physician Medical Director who has had years of experience in clinical trials and patient care. We also have two PhDs in the organization and other senior staff who support our laboratory and business operations. Additional staff members support our data management responsibilities.

What impact does a company such as yours have on the city?
We are particularly critical to growing the biotechnology industry in Memphis, as our expertise is geared toward assisting new industry in their product or drug development. In addition, this is the first industry that existing Memphis companies can enlist for services rather than going to other CROs (Contract Research Organizations) located outside of the Memphis area. Our services will also attract other biotechnology industry to Memphis.

Could you share any latest developments with the company or coming plans?
We have recently expanded in many ways to meet the demands of our clients. First, we have added more biomarker testing capabilities and are now adding additional testing services for clinical trials and for patient care. We have added a medical director to our organization who will be spearheading on site and collaborative clinical trials. In addition, we now have expanded data management capabilities that will assist local organizations in their clinical trial efforts as well as provide expanded services to our existing and future clients.

Any other news?
We have quickly gained recognition as a rapid response and personalized service for regional and global clinical studies. We have spearheaded studies as far away as Amman, Jordan, California, Austin, and Phoenix as well as with local industry. 


Article by Rosalind Guy


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