Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Supports University of Chicago Professor in Founding Immuno-oncology Startup

Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Supports University of Chicago Professor in Founding Immuno-oncology Startup

July 17, 2019PR-M07-19-NI-047

Leading investors and award-winning cancer researcher Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD, launches Pyxis Oncology with USD 22 Million Series A funding


CHICAGO – The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago (“Polsky Center”), today announced its support of a newly formed immuno-oncology company, Pyxis Oncology (“Pyxis” or “Company”), focused on developing a new family of antibody-based immunotherapies derived from novel insights into the biology of the tumor microenvironment. Pyxis was founded by Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD, professor of Medicine, Pathology and the Ben May Cancer Institute at the University of Chicago Medicine; Longwood Fund; and John Flavin, seasoned life sciences executive and entrepreneur.

The University of Chicago’s UChicago Startup Investment Program participated in the Company’s $22 million Series A financing which was led by Leaps by Bayer and joined by additional institutional and strategic investors including Agent Capital, Ipsen Ventures and Longwood Fund.


For more than two decades, Dr. Gajewski has studied the role of T cells in the body’s defense against cancer and, for the past 11 years, the Polsky Center has supported him in the licensing and commercialization of many of his discoveries. Pyxis is applying Dr. Gajewski’s insights to develop a pipeline of antibodies aimed at newly discovered immuno-oncology targets. This could potentially create a new way to treat patients that don’t respond to currently available therapies.


Dr. Gajewski developed the concept for Pyxis in partnership with the technology commercialization team at the Polsky Center, which works closely with researchers to help them transform their ideas and discoveries into products, services, and ventures.

Dr. Gajewski has worked with the Polsky Center on licensing a variety of discoveries and launching several successful life sciences startups.


“Translating immunotherapy research into novel applications that directly improve outcomes for cancer patients has been incredibly important to me,” said Dr. Gajewski. “The Polsky Center has played a key role in accomplishing this goal by helping to commercialize a variety of patents and discoveries. Their infrastructure, industry connections, and operational guidance during the development of Pyxis has been similarly vital.”


Thelma Tennant, PhD, oncology lead for technology commercialization at the Polsky Center, has collaborated with Dr. Gajewski for more than 10 years to commercialize and license his discoveries.


“Dr. Gajewski is a globally recognized leader in oncology research, and his discoveries have delivered results that are both scientifically and clinically relevant” Tennant said. “The Polsky Center has worked closely with Dr. Gajewski to advance his discoveries towards the clinic and we are honored to have supported the creation and launch of Pyxis Oncology. We are thrilled to work with this accomplished group of founders and investors to help turn this vision into reality”

About Pyxis Oncology

Pyxis Oncology is an immuno-oncology company focused on developing novel therapies to help patients defeat difficult to treat cancers. Built on the ground-breaking research of Dr. Thomas Gajewski, Pyxis is pursuing promising novel targets derived from the latest insights into the tumor microenvironment. Pyxis has generated preclinical data on these targets and is developing a pipeline of novel antibodies with the potential to help new patient populations not currently served by today’s immunotherapies. www.pyxisoncology.com.


About the UChicago Startup Investment Program

The UChicago Startup Investment Program is a new initiative where the University of Chicago co-invests alongside established venture funds in startups led by UChicago faculty, students, staff and alumni. The University has set aside $25 million from its endowment to invest in startups that are raising an early round of funding. Learn more.



The Polsky Center for Entrpreneurship and Innovation (U. S.)

Matt Pera, phone +1 773.834.3695

Email: matt.pera@chicagobooth.edu


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