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Robert Gourdie

Industry Leader Spotlight

Robert Gourdie

Heart and Reparative Medicine

My research concerns the connexins, which are proteins key to intercellular communication. This work includes basic mechanisms of cardiac bio-electricity and translational research on drugs targeting connexin function in heart disease, wound healing, and oncology. My teaching interests are focused on biomedical intellectual property, translation, and commercialization.

I am the co-founder of FirstString Research Inc. - a clinical-stage biotech company, now in Phase III clinical trials on its lead drug Granexin TM. The lead compound, alphaCT1 was developed in the Gourdie Lab at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2009. It is the active ingredient in Granexin gel for scar reduction of acute surgical wounds and the treatment of chronic wounds – diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers. I have also spun-off two other companies from my Virginia Tech lab. First, Acomhal Inc., which is undertaking preclinical development of novel drug JM2 that targets cancer stem cells, and presently closing on its first venture deal. Second, my most recent venture, the Tiny Cargo Company, which is focused on exosomal drug delivery technology that will protect therapeutic peptides from breakdown in body fluids, such as the blood, as well as shielding these potentially immunogenic peptides from the immune system.

I first discovered a passion for this work ...
Probably from quite a young age I recall being obsessed with observing and drawing things in nature as early as three years old.

My childhood ambition ...
Was to become a scientist.

Something that excites me in my field ...
There are a couple. First, I think old paradigms of how bioelectricity drives the heartbeat are under challenge. This new understanding may have implications for the brain, including clues on how consciousness might work. A second breakout area I think is important are the discovery of tiny particles released by cells called exosomes. My view is that exosomes could shift paradigms on how cells talk to each other and provide new paths to treat diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

My work impacts society ...
By seeking to understand how cells in the body communicate with each other and using the knowledge gained to treat diseases.

Honor or award I am most proud of ...
I once received a first percentile review for my main National Institutes of Health research grant, an unexpected honor from my peers, for which I was most grateful. My proudest gifts are my children. They are wonderfully accomplished people.

I wish I invented ...
It's a toss up between the toaster and the bicycle. Both seem fundamental to civilization and are likely to be around for some time.

Words of encouragement to an aspiring inventor ...
Be patient, tenacious, learn your craft, and do good work.

My favorite quote ....
"You can observe a lot by just watching." - Yogi Berra

In my free time ...
My wife Sherri and I enjoy playing music. We like country music and folk music from Scotland and Ireland.

Media Contact:

Lindsey Haugh

(540) 231-6959

Additional Highlights

Robert Gourdie    |    Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund Eminent Scholar in Heart Reparative Medicine Research, Professor, and Director of the Center for Heart and Reparative Medicine Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

(540) 526-2095

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC - Faculty Bio Page