December 3, 2019

Navrogen Bringing R&D Operation to Cheyney University

Navrogen Bringing R&D Operation to Cheyney University

 (CHEYNEY, PA – December 3, 2019) – In its latest move to attract private industry partners to set up shop on campus, Cheyney University has entered into a partnership with Navrogen, Inc. ( in which the company will bring its biopharma research and development (R&D) operation to Cheyney’s Science Center.


“This arrangement will produce a major benefit to the university and our students who will have an opportunity to work on these cancer-fighting projects and get hands-on experience in biomolecular techniques as either interns or mentees,” said Cheyney University President Aaron Walton. “The partnership also reflects our continuing efforts to transform our institution by having companies locate on our campus, benefiting their businesses, Cheyney, and our students.”


Navrogen was founded by Drs. Nicholas Nicolaides and Luigi Grasso after they sold their previous biopharmaceutical company Morphotek, Inc to Eisai, LTD of Japan. Now, Nicolaides as president and CEO and Grasso as Sr. VP and chief scientific officer have joined with fellow scientist Dr. Brad Kline, and VP of Finance Steven Kyriakos to again seek to discover new cancer treatments and grow operations to meet the company’s full R&D value potential.


“We are excited about bringing our research to Cheyney’s labs and working with the university’s students,” Nicolaides said. “Cheyney has been reinvigorated by a dynamic leadership team and has dramatically increased its academic standards. We are eager  to work in their state-of-the art Science Center and aid the university’s new strategic plan.”


Navrogen’s founders and employees  have years of experience in training undergraduate and graduate level students through business and scientific internship programs that they  firmly established at Morphotek and more recently at Navrogen. They are working with the university’s administration to create coursework that can benefit Cheyney students pursuing careers in the biological sciences and pharmaceutical industry beginning in the 2019 Spring Semester.


“Part of the university’s new strategic plan includes the creation of invaluable learning opportunities for our students from highly experienced and successful scientists, entrepreneurs and business professionals,” said Cheyney University Provost Kizzy Morris. “We also feel it adds to the growing array of attractions to our students in which we will now be able to provide experiential-learning opportunities as part of their education.”


Navrogen joins Epcot Crenshaw in establishing operations on the Cheyney campus through agreements, which enable these companies to utilize designated space while providing learning opportunities for Cheyney students. According to Cheyney’s business development partners, more companies are in the pipeline and will be locating to the campus in the upcoming year.


“We are focusing in on other lab opportunities with science-based companies that could use the biology and chemistry space,” said Mary Frances McGarrity, Sr. VP  of the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC), which is helping in the outreach. “Cheyney University is part of our community and we want to see it thrive and grow. We know the Navrogen team very well because their prior company was based here in Chester County.”


President Walton has been promoting his vision for maximizing the assets on Cheyney’s campus in partnership with Mosaic Development Partners, a Philadelphia based Real Estate Development companywhose expertise is in finding creative solutions for underutilized real estate assets.  Mosaic helped Cheyney assess its assets, define the overall strategy and then subsequently contacted CCEDC to join in the effort.


“This has been a group effort,” said Greg Reaves, Mosaic’s principal. “In addition to the great work by CCEDC and Cheyney itself, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been very supportive. With 275 acres and a first-class infrastructure, Cheyney has an incredible canvas to reimagine its possibilities and continue to build a sustainable future.”


President Walton sees great days ahead. “We have new, exciting and innovative things happening on our campus that will continue to attract additional high-quality students to the university and engage the ones who are here today in a deeper way. We welcome Navrogen to our team of strategic partners who are providing opportunities for current and future students. That’s why they and others are joining us.”




About Cheyney – Founded in 1837, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is the nation’s oldest historically Black institution of higher education. Building on this legacy, the vision for Cheyney is to become the premier model for academic excellence, character development, and social responsibility among not only Historically Black Colleges and Universities, but in all of American higher education. The campus is located on 275 acres straddling Delaware and Chester Counties. Read more at