Jul 18, 2014, 2:57pm CDT Updated: Jul 18, 2014, 3:15pm CDT


Home to some of the biggest hospital companies in the country, Nashville is generally considered the country’s for-profit health care capital. But when it comes to other health sectors – life sciences, for example – Music City’s prominence shrinks.

But efforts are underway to build up the life sciences right here in the country’s health care mecca, including the growth and development of Nashville-based NuSirt Biopharma. The company, which is starting human trials on its product later this month, was also one of the most successful capital-raisers during the first half of 2014, according to the latest MoneyTree Report fromPricewaterhouseCoopers.

President and Executive Chairman Joe Cook Jr., former chairman of Life Science Tennessee and principal and co-founder of Mountain Group Capital, said Tennessee definitely has the potential to build a vibrant life sciences industry, thanks in part to the number of research institutions and universities spread throughout the state.

Cook and NuSirt COO Barbara Cannon are both veterans of the pharmaceutical industry who’ve used many of their nationwide connections to raise needed capital, solicit subject matter experts and otherwise build their business.

Right now, NuSirt has six full-time employees – three in Nashville and three in Knoxville – and dozens of contractors and experts spread throughout the country, Cook said. But if NuSirt continues to grow, Cook and Cannon said, they expect to recruit more people to Nashville and keep the business based here.

Tennessee’s culture is well-designed for the development of a pharmaceutical industry Cook, a Chattanooga native, said.

“There’s a keen desire to share and cooperate,” he explained. “It’s very comfortable working in the state.”