Salt Lake City Entrepreneur Donates to U of Michigan and Builds Houston Roots

From left: Dr. Dinesh and Kalpana Patel with Vijay and Ashok Dhingra.

From left: Dr. Dinesh and Kalpana Patel with Vijay and Ashok Dhingra.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: By the time most people read this, the engagement ceremony of Abhishek Dhingra to Avni Patel would have been over, since it is this Saturday, January 18. But in forging this alliance of love, the young couple has realized a connection between Salt Lake City, Utah and Houston, Texas that would have been hard to imagine for their parents years earlier.

It turns out that the two sets of parents are in the life sciences business, with Ashok and Vijay Dhingra’s firm Expotech distributing laboratory, chemical and industrial equipment and supplies globally while Dr. Dinesh Patel, along with his wife Kalpana, co-founded TheraTech, a leading drug delivery company based in Salt Lake City with proprietary technologies that was acquired in 1999 by Watson Pharmaceuticals.

Just this past week, Dr. Patel was lauded when he made a generous $1 million commitment to his alma mater, the University of Michigan’s College of Pharmacy to fully fund the Chottubhai and Savitaben Patel Fellowships, established in 2005 by Patel and his brothers in honor of their parents.

Patel received his PhD in 1979 and later in 2009 received the College’s Alumni Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award and most recently was honored with BioUtah’s 2013 Utah Life Science Award. Patel’s gift to the University will directly support graduate students at the College.

As a prominent entrepreneur and business leader in Utah, Patel has founded or co-founded multiple Utah life science companies. He was the founder and CEO of TheraTech, now a major Utah division of Actavis and a co-founding managing director of vSpring Capital, which has invested in many Utah-based life science companies, and supported more than 20 other companies as an angel investor.

Patel is considered to be the father of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in the Mountain West region. He currently holds 15 US Patents and Foreign Counterparts and serves on several non-profit boards. Born in Gujarat, his family moved to Zambia and later moved to Utah to take up a job but soon decided to go into business himself. The Dhingras are from Delhi and have been in the Bayou City for over 40 years. Both sides are delighted at the connection made between the two families, thanks to their children.