GSBS alumnus stresses innovation, entrepreneurship to students

Hassan-AZZAZY-GSBSSince he graduated, Hassan Azzazy, PhD, (GSBS ’94) has blazed a trail of innovation and entrepreneurship from Fort Worth to Egypt.

Dr. Azzazy has nine active patent applications in various stages, and last year he created the first spin-off company, D-Kimia, LLC., in the 93-year history of American University in Cairo, where he now teaches.

Among those patents is a technology for a faster, more affordable and more efficient diagnostic test that uses gold nanoparticles to directly detect RNA of Hepatitis C -a virus that infects nearly one in five people in his native Egypt.

“The hepatitis tests they have now are both complicated and expensive, so many people don’t get tested,” said Dr. Azzazy, Professor of Chemistry and Leader of Novel Diagnostics and Therapeutics.  “We need a test that can be done quickly and help the patient without spending a lot of time and money.”

That kind of innovation led Dr. Azzazy to be selected as The Global Innovator for Fall 2014 at Texas Christian University. The partnership that brings “groundbreaking individuals” from developing countries to TCU also allowed Dr. Azzazy to visit the UNTHSC campus he last saw as a member of the GSBS program’s first graduating class.

“I am so pleased to see how the campus and laboratories have evolved,” Dr. Azzazy said. “It is a great place to attract bright scientists and students.”

While on campus, Dr. Azzazy stressed to students the need to approach their role in science with innovation and entrepreneurship in mind.  As an example, he cited a $9 clip-on lens that turns a smart phone into a microscope, allowing medical workers to detect malaria parasites in a blood film.

“This is a powerful medical innovation that could reach millions of people,” Dr. Azzazy said. “To do truly meaningful work, you must not be routine. Innovation changes the world.”

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