Alumnus' company partners in Ohio State patent and research efforts

April 3, 2024
research  pipetting

Xiaobin (Ben) Zhao, PhD ’07, is an alumnus of The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy and the co-founder of The WhiteOak Group, a biotech company developing new technology for improved patient outcomes. Dr. Zhao leads the company alongside his former advisor Robert Lee, PhD, professor of pharmaceutics and pharmacology at the college.  

Since 2017, the team has expanded from approximately 25 to 200 members. Today, those associates operate from the U.S., Europe and East Asia. Founded on expertise in drug delivery, the company aims to turn pharmaceutical research into tangible health care solutions. The WhiteOak Group regularly collaborates with expert partners throughout the development process by investing in others’ research efforts.  

“Many of our partnerships grow organically from connections with our immediate and extended networks,” said Tara Pretty, MBA, business operations manager at The WhiteOak Group.  

Having come from the world of academia, Drs. Zhao and Lee are strong proponents of pharmaceutical research produced in academic settings. Their support of academic research led to the creation of The WhiteOak Group Designated Fellowship in Pharmaceutics at Ohio State in 2022.  

“The passion that has driven me to The Ohio State University is my interest in the areas of pharmaceutics and drug delivery,” current fellow Kai Jin, MS, said. “Receiving the fellowship from the WhiteOak Group is major a milestone in my research career.” 

Since 2022, Jin has received support from the fellowship in his role as a graduate researcher in the lab of Peixuan Guo, PhD, professor of pharmaceutics and pharmacology and Sylvan G. Frank Endowed Chair. 

“Our partnerships are very meaningful to us,” Pretty said. “The WhiteOak Group Designated Fellowship in Pharmaceutics at Ohio State goes to support research and development in pharmaceuticals at the university. The benefits of maintaining strong partnerships in both industry and academia allow us to leverage our networks and be influential when change occurs.”  

In the drug discovery space, resources provided by the likes of this fellowship mean all the difference as they support the expensive process of discovering and developing usable treatments.