Genprex, Inc., a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on developing life-changing therapies for patients with cancer and diabetes, announced the addition of George Gittes, MD to its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Dr. Gittes is the inventor of the Company’s licensed diabetes gene therapy technology that is currently in development and serves as the Chief of Pediatric Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief Emeritus at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
In February 2020, Genprex signed an exclusive license agreement with the University of Pittsburgh for Dr. Gittes’ diabetes gene therapy technology. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes together affect approximately 30.3 million people in the U.S., or about 9 percent of the U.S. population. By replacing or repairing damaged or missing genes, gene therapy offers a potential cure for patients suffering from diabetes, as opposed to merely treating symptoms.
As a member of Genprex’s SAB, Dr. Gittes will leverage his highly impressive expertise to provide strategic support and drive strategy for the Company’s diabetes clinical development program.
“We are delighted to have Dr. Gittes join our Scientific Advisory Board as Genprex continues to advance its diabetes program,” said Rodney Varner, Genprex’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “It is imperative that we rely on the guidance and direction of esteemed individuals with a wealth of expertise in research and gene therapy, and I expect that Genprex will benefit greatly from Dr. Gittes’ experience. He will play an instrumental role in our efforts to bring new hope to patients who suffer from the devastating complications of this chronic illness.”
In addition to his role as Chief of Pediatric Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief Emeritus at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, one of the busiest pediatric surgical programs in the U.S., he was appointed Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research and Co-Scientific Director at UPMC Children’s Hospital in 2018. Prior to UPMC, Dr. Gittes served as the Director of Surgical Research at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and held the Thomas M. Holder and Keith W. Ashcraft Chair in Pediatric Surgical Research. During his time in Kansas City, he also was elected to the position of President of the Society of University of Surgeons.
He is an active member of numerous professional and scientific society memberships, including the American Society of Clinical Investigators, the American Surgical Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the Association of American Physicians. His research has been published in several peer-reviewed scientific publications, and he is the recipient of several research grants, including a recent $2.59 million grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to assist his ongoing preclinical research for important proof-of-principle non-human primate studies of his diabetes gene therapy.