There wasn’t a whole lot to be cheerful about in 2020, though even in the darkest of times, an opportunity may arise. James Moe, PhD, MBA, and his cofounding partner, Eliot Davidowitz, PhD, experienced this firsthand with their biotech company, Oligomerix, which recently relocated its administrative and executive offices from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx to White Plains’ Westchester Park Center.
Founded in 2006, Oligomerix is an interesting company. It focuses most of its energy on the small-molecule tau protein, which is very important in the stabilization of healthy brain cells. When tau proteins are damaged, either by genetic or external (e.g., traumatic brain injury) factors, they can bind to each other and become pathogenic, which can lead to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Oligomerix is developing a drug treatment that, if successful, will prevent damaged tau proteins from binding to each other, basically thwarting the degenerative process before it begins.
While the R&D and lab functions will remain in the Bronx for the time being (Moe is already eyeballing potential lab facilities in the county), the move was precipitated by cross-purposes. Oligomerix was already expanding as a company, but the exigencies of the pandemic forced many healthcare institutions to reallocate space, to accommodate COVID-19 patients.
“Because of COVID, [Einstein] was really in need of all of their space and needed to expand,” says Moe, who has a doctorate in molecular biology/molecular biophysics from Wesleyan University. “For our own long-term growth, we decided to move to Westchester, where we could also expand.”
Moe went on to say that he loves his company’s new location, which it occupied as of October 1 (not coincidentally, two weeks after Oligomerix was awarded a $3.19 million grant by the NIH’s National Institute on Aging) because “it’s where multiple healthcare complexes are building satellite locations, which will bring a lot of people to this region. There’s a lot of capacity for expansion here and I think a lot more interest in Westchester since the COVID outbreak,” he says before pointing out that his 1,600 leased square feet and the staff who occupy it are right in the nexus of Interstates 95, 287, and 684, as well as the Bronx River Parkway. “Also,” says Moe, “the big office spaces here allow for plenty of social distancing, and we definitely want to keep our employees safe.”