Craig Shimasaki, President & CEO Moleculera Labs co-founder
If one of your kids wants to tear into your old appliances, maybe you should let them.
“Growing up, I was curious how things work,” said Craig Shimasaki said. “I would take apart my mom’s toaster and ironing board just to see how it worked. I just wasn’t so good about putting it back together.”
His tinkering paid off: Shimasaki co-founded and is CEO of Moleculera Labs, which focuses on diagnosing neurologic, psychiatric and behavioral disorders triggered by an autoimmune response. It’s grown rapidly from its inception in 2011 to 13,000 patients associated with 1,700 doctors in 30 countries throughout the world. It’s complicated, but breaking it down for us mortals, Shimasaki and his team are studying the connection between viruses, like strep and now COVID, and the long-term responses to those disorders, with long-reaching impact for children diagnosed with disorders like OCD, anxiety, autism, ADHD and long-haul COVID.
“We’ve found if you treat the infection in the immune system, they get well,” Shimasaki said. “We know that there is often a biological issue rather than a psychiatric issue. We’re looking at the underlying causes of mental issues and other disorders.”
In addition, he’s founded more than half a dozen other companies, written three books on entrepreneurship in the biotech industry and he’s the Senior Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Oklahoma’s Price College of Business. He’s growing the next leaders in the bio tech field while he grows OKC’s bio tech field himself.
“Our goal is to reach people all over the world,” he said. “We want to change how medicine is practiced. The brain is really the last frontier in medicine. “
He said OKC’s biotech industry is poised for significant growth because it has the necessary components to cause growth.
“It’s like farming,” he said. “You need good seeds, good soil, sunshine, water and a farmer. If you have four out of the five, it still doesn’t work. And Oklahoma City is poised for growth because we have an entrepreneurial culture, funding sources, innovations from universities and incubator facilities being set up. You combine all that with our other resources and results will begin to grow, crop up and sprout.”
He said OKC’s biotech industry, with focus, is poised to explode.
“The sun is everywhere, but if you take a glass and focus that sun, you can have fire,” he said. “If we have focus, and a focus at all levels, absolutely, we’ll have fire in the bio tech industry.”