EnCor Biotechnology Inc. was founded by Dr. Gerry Shaw, who was born in Nottingham, England sometime late in the last millennium. After school and working in his first full time job for a year in a warehouse, he obtained a B.Sc. degree in Zoology with a focus on the then new field of Cell Biology from University College London. He then went on to obtain a Ph.D. degree in the laboratory of Dr. Dennis Bray who was then working in King’s College London. This was in the Biophysics department, now renamed the Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics. This department was founded by Sir John Randall, who was a codeveloper of the cavity magnetron, the vital component of allied wartime radar. This department was famous for the work of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, who generated the data that led to the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA, and the department was still run by Wilkins at that time. Dr. Shaw then moved to the laboratory of Prof. Klaus Weber and Dr. Mary Osborn, in Goettingen, in what was then West Germany, as the Iron Curtain was still very much in existence and only a few kilometers away. This laboratory was the Department of Biochemistry, later renamed the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. This institute, also known as the Karl-Friedrich Bonhoeffer Institute was extremely well funded and an excellent place for a young scientist to learn cutting edge technologies. Then as now, one of the most useful tools available in biological research was a collection of good antibodies, and as part of his research projects Dr. Shaw learned how to make both polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies. Many of these antibodies became widely used by him and collaborators, and some also became commercially available.
In 1986 Dr. Shaw moved to the University of Florida to set up his own research laboratory. In this lab he continued to make a variety of antibodies to aid in his various research interests, and also learned the molecular biological techniques necessary to express proteins in bacteria in bulk. This turned out to be a very useful thing to know, since antibodies can be readily generated against such recombinant proteins. Once again many of these newer antibodies became popular with collaborators and several found their way to commercial vendors, initially Chemicon (now owned by Millipore-EMD), then Novus Biologicals, Novocastra (now owned by Leica), Sigma-Aldrich and Zymed (now owned by Life Technologies). In fact some of these antibodies became so successful commercially that shipping them out to companies and particularly making new batches became a major drain on Dr. Shaw’s time and energy, and a research lab in a University is not really supposed to be generating products for sale. It was at this stage that he decided that the most appropriate way forward was to found a small company dedicated to the manufacture and marketing of these and other high quality antibodies. The company was founded in December 1999 and first occupied lab space in the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator under the name of EnCor Biotechnology Inc. in December 2002. EnCor continues to supply Dr. Shaw’s antibodies to a growing list of other companies now including Abcam, Abnova, Cell Signaling Technology, Covance, Thermo Fisher, Santa Cruz and many others and is also selling directly to researchers. The company is now routinely making more novel high quality antibodies against proteins of particular interest and has several research projects underway aimed at commercializing some of Dr. Shaw’s recent scientific discoveries. The company recently started marketing some of the high resolution immunofluorescence images made during the process of characterizing these antibodies.
In November 2006 EnCor “graduated” from the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator and moved into a converted warehouse in Gainesville. EnCor has been increasingly profitable every year since 2004, which is fairly unusual since many biotechnology companies don’t ever make a profit. Dr. Shaw retired from the University of Florida in March 2013 to concentrate on running EnCor. So ironically Dr. Shaw’s first and likely last places of employment have been warehouses.