Biomedical Research and new product development is one of the most sought-after industries, as it has the potential to change the future of mankind. This ﬁeld is expanding at a rapid pace, as entrepreneurs have seen its potential. Among the sub-ﬁelds of Life Sciences Research is ‘Microbiology’. The opportunities which this ﬁeld has to oﬀer are limitless. Integrating Microbiology with the advancement in technology can alter the future of the human species. Many microbiologists have been in this industry for decades, and one among them is Mary Pat Moyer, who is the Founder, CEO and Chief Science Oﬃcer of INCELL Corporation, LLC, which was founded in 1993 in San Antonio, Texas, USA. Recently, we had an opportunity to interview her.
Below are the highlights of the interview between Insights Success and Mary Pat Moyer:
Give a brief overview of your background and your role in INCELL Corporation.
I am the INCELL Founder, CEO and Chief Science Oﬃcer. I come from a hard-working, blue-collar background. I have had paying jobs since I was 8 years old and have supported myself since I was 14, holding 2 jobs, paying rent and buying my own clothes and entertainment. I skipped my last year of high school, got Bachelor of Science (1972) and Master of Science (1974) degrees in Biology from Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton FL) and a PhD in Microbiology from The University of Texas at Austin in 1981. I was hired (1981) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) where I worked for 20 years as a Professor of Surgery, headed the Surgical Research Division, was cross-appointed to 5 departments, and was the Director of the Center for Human Cell Biotechnology and the Cell and Tissue Bioprocessing Core for the NIH Comprehensive Cancer Center. I have received many types of peer-reviewed awards, including grants and contracts, and speciﬁc recognition, such as the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the international Athena award, AAUW “Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award” and one of the “Top Ten Texas CEOs in Life Sciences”. I am an elected member of the American Academy of Microbiology, and in 2019 was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
Who are you outside of your work?
I am all about family activities, but I am also an outspoken community activist and an advisor for technology and health-based businesses, and for research and education at all levels, including elected oﬃcials who generally have limited knowledge of science and technology. I am “Grammy” to 3 beautiful grandchildren, George, Grace and Connor. I am a mother and mother-in-law to 5 adult children. I celebrate the diversity and love of our extended family in the U.S. and Mexico. I have daily support and happiness with my life partner, husband, best friend and business partner, James Janowiak. We are both life-long learners who love to read an eclectic array of publications and books and to play Jeopardy!
How do you maintain balance between your professional & personal life?
I have been writing a book “Balance is a Myth” because so many people (especially women!) think they cannot have or sustain a work-life balance. The scales of life and responsibility tip down and up, over time, but are not balanced in each individual moment. I try to plan ahead and keep an updated calendar with personal and professional activities and responsibilities, and then balance the priorities and the needs of the moment. I will give up sleep or frivolous activities to have more family time or to meet an important professional goal. As I have gotten older I still participate in mentoring and giving presentations to those who I call my “replacement parts”. I easily say “no” to invitations to participate in things that suck up time and are of minimal impact.
What was the life-changing event that changed your life?
Getting married, having children and now grandchildren are all life-changing events! Professionally, I was a successful scientist and Professor of Surgery and headed the Surgical Research Division at UTHSCSA. In the early 1990s there was a coalescence of 3 life-changing issues at the same time. I got divorced, government scientiﬁc research monies were getting more diﬃcult to obtain, and my department chairman retired. In 1992 and 1993 I was selected to Leadership Texas and Leadership America Women, which helped me overcome clinical depression and was a stimulus to “re-invent” myself as a scientist-entrepreneur by founding my company INCELL as a path for taking care of my children and my staﬀ, many who have been with me for decades. Such was my unpredictable, life-changing path into business and not just studying challenging research but making products and providing services to tackle the needs.
What strategies do you undertake to make your employees resourceful?
My employees know that our collective mission and responsibility is to manufacture and develop high-quality and cost-eﬀective therapies for sick people. A core value is that each person is self-reﬂective, that their role in our processes would result in a quality product that they would support. Also, all employees know they have a voice, and this does not reduce the need for multi-tasking and teaming. Their well-thought-out ideas and suggestions for initiatives that increase eﬃciency and productivity are reviewed and considered individually and at team meetings. Importantly, I ask individual staﬀ at all levels how things are going, show respect for them and say “thank you” one-on-one and in front of others.
What are some of the vital attributes, in your opinion, that every leader should possess?
An outstanding leader is an example to others. She knows that she does not know everything, that she stands on the shoulders of those who came before her, and she is wellrecognized by her peers. She is action-oriented, genuine, honest, passionate, purposeful, goal-driven, visionary, respectful and respected, knowledgeable, and resilient. She does not accept the status quo, is generally impatient, maintains a sense of humor even in tough times, is an eﬀective problem-solver, is a trusted decision-maker and recognizes the value of input from her team and others. She follows through, has empathy and lifts others up. She does not believe she is “above” others or that personal monetary wealth is the best metric of success. She admits to mistakes and takes actions to overcome them. She clearly conveys by her actions, words and charisma.
How necessary is it to align business with technology and what are its outcomes?
INCELL’s mission is to pioneer regenerative medicine, personalized cell and tissue therapies, immune treatments, novel manufacturing, and other innovations to bring high quality products and services to biomedical markets. This requires constant alignment of business with technology and regulatory compliance.
How do you sustain your entrepreneurial spirit in this changing technological era and market dynamics?
I love what I do and know that patients are waiting for the types of products we have or are developing, so we cannot be complacent! The technology and regulatory environments in the U.S. and around the world require constant alignment of business with technology and regulatory compliance. I stay on top of the ﬁeld through extensive online and hard copy reading, attending and presenting at selective conferences and bringing in younger enthusiastic staﬀ. I have extensive and enthusiastic collaborators with new technologies and their “Be honest, hire good people, keep a spiritual center and sense of humor, love and be loved, and never-never give up!” product development. “I pay attention. Timing and opportunities are relevant, but they must be within the context of market needs, quality and regulatory requirements.”
How are you contributing in the evolution of the biotechnology industry?
- a member of the Bio-engineering section of the National Academy of Engineering which provides guiding reports and recommendations to the US government;
- a member of the National Science Foundation National Visiting Committee to U.S. community colleges training of students in biotechnology;
- an activist for training and providing relevant medical and scientiﬁc information to elected oﬃcials at the national, state and local levels;
- a Subject Matter Expert speaker on regenerative medicine, cancer, infectious diseases, and entrepreneurship at local, national and international conferences;
- an advisor and invited lecturer to multiple college level and graduate academic programs in biotechnology, biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine;
- an active participant in publishing scientiﬁc papers and submitting grants, contracts and abstracts;
- an invited reviewer of publications, grants, contracts, awards, and trainee presentations or poster competitions; and
- an honest and realistic mentor and leader to my staﬀ and to many faculty and trainees at various stages of their professional development.
Provide one line that best describes your vision and approach to business.
“Be honest, hire good people, keep a spiritual center and sense of humor, love and be loved, and never-never give up!”
What advice would you like to give to the emerging entrepreneurs?
Know that it is not all about you. Do not be arrogant. You will achieve nothing without a team and their support. Know your business and technology in and out. You may have a great product idea but how much will it cost to make, package and store, and do you have ready customers? As for funding, be aware that “No one owes you a living” and you may have to use your own money to start or sustain a business. Be sure you have support of your signiﬁcant other and family, especially if you are using your own money. Never lie. Be a good friend and a productive collaborator.