In moving Rio Grande Neurosciences to New Mexico, the backers of the company are making a bet that the state can become a major player in neuroscience research and development.
A portion of the firm’s research and clinical work has been done at The University of New Mexico and The Mind Research Network, founded in 1998 in Albuquerque by former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici among others.
In 2013, The Mind Research Network received a $15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to use evolving neurotechnologies to better understand brain disorders.
Additionally, Rio Grande Neurosciences has harvested funding and intellectual resources from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National labs.
Steven Gluckstern, founder and chief executive officer, is convinced the Rio Grande corridor between LANL and Sandia can be a matrix for neuroscience. He said the intellectual infrastructure and technology is in place, and cites the leadership from University of New Mexico’s neurosciences department, led by Dr. Howard Yonas, as well as The Mind Research Network as examples of unique resources.
Sean Hagberg, is a co-founder and the chief strategist for Rio Grand Neurosciences, and an assistant professor of neurosurgery at UNM. Hagberg has done research at Harvard, Stanford and other top universities, but said UNM is just as good. “We think there’s a real potential to establish a neuroscience backbone here,” he said.
Michelle Miller, founder of HD3, which specializes in helping startups in New Mexico, is negotiating an agreement that would offer Rio Grande Neurosciences office and manufacturing space at the new Trades and Advanced Technology Center at Santa Fe Community College in exchange for student training and mentoring.
She said a deal with SFCC would be a boost to the community. “The Technology and Trades Center is a perfect environment for the stage they are in,” she said.
Gluckstern, who relocated the company from San Francisco, said the other advantage for New Mexico is the cost of housing.
One of his scientists is moving from Providence, R.I., and selling a $250,000 house. Gluckstern was asked what kind of housing the family could buy in San Francisco for that price.
His response: “A year’s rent.”