Alumnus Returns to Austin, Continues to Work With Cancer-Fighting Nonprofit He Founded

Cockrell School of Engineering alumnus Chris Condit (M.S. BME 2011; B.S. EE 2004) has approached his professional life with the same cross-disciplinary focus that he took with his education. Over the past decade, he has created medical devices, developed patented intellectual property and started a cancer-fighting nonprofit organization.

Condit is the founder of the longest charity bicycle ride in the world — Texas 4000, an annual ride that begins in Austin and ends in Anchorage, Alaska. Cyclists raise money to participate in the ride, which supports cancer research. And year after year, Texas 4000 provides seed grants for cancer researchers at the Cockrell School. The 2014 team is currently on the road.

At the age of 22, then an undergraduate at The University of Texas at Austin, and partly inspired by his own battle surviving Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a child, Condit founded Texas 4000 with his wife, Mandy, an alumna of the Cockrell School’s McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering. Both engineering students at the time, the two created Texas 4000 “as a way to continue the fight against cancer by raising funds for cancer research and sharing hope, knowledge and charity throughout the continent,” according to the organization’s website.

This year marks Texas 4000’s 10th anniversary.

Since graduating from both the departments of biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering, Condit has worked in a variety of capacities in different types of organizations that include startups and large companies.

At a reception in May, Condit spoke to the 2014 biomedical engineering graduates, where he encouraged the students — future leaders in the fields of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and industry — to continue to work hard, as “there are so many jobs out there for biomedical engineering graduates, but they won’t fall in your lap.”

When Condit entered UT Austin, the university did not yet offer undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering, so he chose to major in electrical engineering with an emphasis on biomedical engineering, and he dove right into research with professors Tom Milner and A.J. Welch.

“My engineering education helped me understand all aspects of a complex product — the characteristics of microelectronics, the software that controls the simulators and the rechargeable components,” Condit said.

Between graduating with his bachelor’s degree and beginning graduate school, Condit simultaneously served on the Texas 4000 board and worked at Milner’s startup, CardioSpectra, developing endoscopic laser imaging systems for minimally invasive diagnoses of cancer and heart disease. As he prepared to recruit for and hire an executive director at Texas 4000, he realized he was writing a job description for a job he actually wanted.

And so, he took the job and led the nonprofit for two years before stepping down to return to UT Austin for his master’s degree in biomedical engineering. Much of Condit’s time in graduate school was spent with Milner and professor Grady Rylander developing optical methods for a glucose-monitoring device 
intended for medical professionals that could be used to monitor glucose levels more efficiently in patients.

After graduating and spending a brief time in Dallas working on another medical device, Condit recently returned to Austin with his family, where he currently serves as technical program manager, leading product management and systems engineering, at Xeris Pharmaceuticals.

“Being back in Austin also means I’m closer to Texas 4000,” said Condit, who still serves on the board.

Texas 4000 recently awarded the Cockrell School’s Department of Biomedical Engineering a $100,000 gift, $50,000 of which will provide seed grant money for two biomedical engineering faculty members working on cancer research. The organization has previously funded cancer research conducted by faculty members Aaron Baker, Amy Brock, Andrew Dunn, Stanislav Emelianov, Mia Markey and James Tunnell.