Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
Our honoree: Jeff Fischer
Title: Co-founder and president, Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics
The company’s focus: Jeff Fischer founded Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics in 2006 with his father, Dr. Gerald Fischer, to find better ways of identifying and diagnosing viruses and to develop vaccines that not only reduce mortality but prevent infection.
Longhorn has developed a proprietary diagnostic technology, called the PrimeStore Molecular Transport Medium (MTM), that deactivates a virus’ pathogens and makes testing more accurate, collection safer and transportation easier. The technology created a whole new FDA device category — microbial nucleic acid storage and stabilization devices — and is currently the only medium on the FDA’s preferred list that can deactivate COVID-19. It also works for influenza and M. tuberculosis, and recently was validated for Monkeypox in the U.K.
Longhorn is also working in partnership with the U.S. Army on a universal influenza vaccine designed to provide broader and longer-lasting protection across strains of the virus.
Fischer’s biggest win: In 2020, when the FDA requested that Longhorn rapidly increase its production of PrimeStore MTM to help support U.S. COVID-19 testing, Fischer jumped into action. The former Marine led his team in increasing production from around 100,000 units of PrimeStore MTM a year to over 50 million in just a few months. So far, Longhorn has produced well over 60 million PrimeStore MTM devices, which have been provided to over 20 countries across the globe.
His impact: “The ability to ramp up production on such a large scale and in an unheard of amount of time speaks to the philosophy [Fischer] has established across Longhorn to ensure that employees are in a position that allows their skills to shine,” his nominator says. He brings a sense of integrity, trust and collaborative spirit — learned during his time in the military — to Longhorn and his role guiding and motivating employees.
“I enjoy helping other small companies and their leaders to find success.”
Co-founder, president, Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics
Fischer’s knack for building strong partnerships with suppliers, manufacturers and distributors has also been critical to Longhorn’s growth over the last two years. For instance, he forged partnerships with manufacturers Cenetron Diagnostics and EKF Diagnostics and distributor Thermo Fisher Scientific, as well as countless small partners, during the height of COVID-19 to meet the testing needs of governments and healthcare providers.
Why he’s inspiring: Fischer has a penchant for giving back and helping the global community wherever it is needed. At the beginning of the pandemic, the U.N. International Organization for Migration (IOM), an organization with 173 member countries aimed at promoting humane migration, purchased a large volume of Longhorn’s Primestore MTM to ensure safe and effective COVID-19 testing in refugee camps. Later, when Longhorn had the funds to do so, the company donated 1 million vials of the diagnostic test to the U.N. IOM for testing of COVID-19, TB and other pathogens.
Additionally, the company offers lower pricing for researchers using Primestore MTM in remote and developing areas to aid in the early detection and prevention of viral outbreaks.
In his own words: “Our current blue ocean is the universal influenza vaccine market. The current influenza vaccines are seasonal and generally not very effective. As we have seen over the last year with COVID-19, the general population tires quickly of repeated immunizations that fail to prevent disease. While we can all be thankful that a vaccine prevents us from being hospitalized, or dying, the vast majority of people expect a vaccine to keep them from getting sick,” he says.