With three degrees in biology and microbiology, Dr. M. Nixon “Nick” Ellis (MBA ’92) has always been attracted to good science and the interface between science and business. When he added an MBA degree from UNC Kenan-Flagler, Ellis felt perfectly prepared as a senior pharmaceutical executive with a proven track record in preclinical viral research, drug development and management.
“Proper business training beats on-the-job training, and my time here at UNC Kenan-Flagler prepared me perfectly for what came next,” says Ellis. “I was in deep water, but I could swim. My MBA education gave me the ability to understand the language and concerns of a variety of business units – ranging from manufacturing to clinical to finance. Without it, my learning curve would have been much steeper.”
After receiving his degree from UNC Kenan-Flagler, Ellis held positions as global business development manager and global brand director at The Wellcome Foundation in the UK before co-founding and serving as president for a series of start-up biotechnology companies in the Research Triangle Park focused on the discovery and development of new antiviral compounds. With credentials like these, it’s no wonder that he received UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Executive MBA Alumni Merit Award in 2001.
Ellis is currently president, CEO and board member of X-In8 Corporation, Inc., a leading start-up company founded by UNC lung transplant surgeon Dr. Thomas Egan. The company is developing a potential drug to be used in the treatment and prevention of ischemia-reperfusion injury. This injury occurs when blood supply returns to the tissue after a period of ischemia (i.e. lack of oxygen) and is associated with inflammation and edema.
Today Ellis is especially interested in ways to give entrepreneurs access to larger pools of money to help them meet long-term goals. He and his wife also established The M. Nixon and Josephine Taylor Ellis MBA Fellowship Fund in 1998. “I hope students have the great experience I had and the satisfaction of using that education to make a difference,” says Ellis.