A Yale University PhD graduate, Dr. Thomas “Tom” Brutnell is a scientist with over 25 years of experience in plant molecular biology, genetics, and genomics. He currently serves as a vice president at Gateway Biotechnology, a drug development company in St. Louis, Missouri. He also serves as a visiting scientist at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, China. In his free time, Thomas Brutnell is an avid walker and occasional runner.
Given the extensive amount of time many of us now spend behind a computer screen, it is important to incorporate some daily standing, stretching and walking breaks into the daily work schedule. This is particularly relevant to those of us who now work from home and spend even less time walking to and from our cars into the office in the morning or routinely skip heading out to lunch for a break. Incorporating a short 10 to 15 min walk between a morning and afternoon meeting is a great way to rest your eyes, wrists and fingers from the screen and keyboard. It is also important to be intentional in standing at least every hour. Just one or two minutes of standing and walking around the living room every hour can actually benefit your metabolism and provided a break for your eyes.
In addition to taking short breaks during the day, incorporating 20 min or more of strenuous exercise two or three times a week is not only good for the body but good for the mind. A 20 min run through the woods or even on a treadmill will do more to help relieve stress if you don’t think about work and instead focus on your breathing, your posture or on the rhythm of your pace. The time spent on these activities will more than make up in productivity (and longevity!) for time lost behind the screen.
As an innovator in genomics technologies, Thomas Brutnell serves as the vice president of Gateway Biotechnology in St. Louis, Missouri. Drawing on over 25 years of molecular biology, genetics, and genomics experience, Thomas Brutnell oversees Gateway’s innovative drug research and development projects.
Founded in 2011, Gateway Biotechnology is a drug research company located in St. Louis. The company focuses on repurposing FDA-approved drugs for use in treating and preventing hearing disorders. Currently, there are no FDA-approved drug on the market for treating the majority of hearing problems that Gateway Biotechnology aims to address.
The company is currently conducting studies to deploy innovative solutions for noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. One of their projects, funded by the US Department of the Army, centers on developing effective treatments for noise-induced hearing loss and is now being tested in a clinical phase II trial. Gateway’s research pipeline has largely been driven through non-dilutive grants from the National Institute of Health’s Small Business Innovation Research SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer STTR programs.
The company is now actively seeking investments to help accelerate the development of a product to protect against acute acoustic trauma.
Plant genomics is a science with significant potential, especially as it relates to food security and crop diversity and improvement. In particular, one way that plant genomics is helping to ensure food security is through the collection, sequencing, and classification of gene banks and seed banks. Seed banks are a vital element in the preservation and organization of crop taxonomy and origins.
Studying these resources can provide significant insight into how desired traits are selected and passed on. Large scale studies, although they are logistically challenging, are among the best ways to undertake this sort of research. Ultimately, researchers might be able to use the data to create a generalizable framework for the improvement of other crops including those with medicinal properties.
Based in Missouri, Thomas Brutnell guides Viridis Genomics Consulting and works with business and academic clients in the plant biotechnology sphere. As Gateway Biotechnology, Inc.’s vice president, Thomas Brutnell is spearheading next-generation research and development for preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus through innovative drug solutions. This approach uses repurposed medications with extensive safety records behind them to quickly move effective treatments to the market.
In October 2019, Gateway Biotechnology announced that it had received US patent number 10,434,097 for the development of tetrandrine (TET), a compound isolated from a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine. The patent draws on NIH-funded research that has demonstrated that TET is capable of protecting against more than 80 percent of noise treatment-induced damage.
As the firm’s cofounder and CEO Jianxin Bao, PhD, described it, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any therapeutics against NIHL to-date, which is a major worldwide health issue that can result in tinnitus, or a persistent ringing in the ears. The plan is to rapidly transition TET into clinical studies that can help bring a therapy at the vanguard of science to market.