Startup Grind Winston-Salem Hosts Dr. Tony Atala (Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

As a practicing surgeon and researcher in regenerative medicine, Dr. Tony Atala (Director, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Professor and Chair, Wake Forest University Department of Urology) is one of the few people pushing the boundaries of biotechnology.

Originally located in Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Atala had no intentions of leaving the Northeast. However, after visiting Wake Forest, and learning that North Carolina was ranked third in the country for biotechnology, he made the move and never looked back.  Never expecting to have a team of more than ten, Dr. Atala was surprised to grow his team to 450 employees. “There’s no magic number – you can be as large as you want or as small as you want depending on what you need to do, but at the end of the day, it’s really having good people who can divide the teams into smaller teams.”

Dr. Atala approaches business and science the same way. He advises that everyone should ignore the thought that certain achievements are impossible, and that innovative ideas are born from challenges, and the creative thinking to circumvent those challenges. “Sometimes you learn more from you failures than you do from your success… those things you learn is where innovation comes from.”

What other advice does Dr. Atala have to share on achieving success? Dr. Atala also shares his “A’s for success” – Attitude, Ability, Adaptability, Affability, and Availability. “If you’re going to fail, you’d better fail early and fast… you want to celebrate your failures, they show you the paths not to take.”