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Nikos Hontzeas

Nikos Hontzeas

Vanderbilt MBA 2010

Strategy, Senior Manager Molecular Solutions

Fighting Cancer

Hontzeas Makes MBA a Powerful Weapon for a Cure

When he was young, Nikos Hontzeas lost both his parents to cancer. He decided to become a scientist to better understand the disease. After earning a PhD in Canada — where he had lived most of his life after his family moved there from Greece — he engaged in postdoctoral cancer research at UCLA.

From there, he worked as a scientific investigator for a nonprofit institute in Los Angeles that was involved in curing the same type of cancer, mesothelioma, that claimed his mother. But Nikos ultimately concluded that the best way he could contribute to R&D in his field was to earn an MBA so he could become involved in management decisions for large life sciences companies.

After his first year at Owen, Nikos — a lover of motorcycles and fine wines — seemed well on his way, winning an internship with Thermo Fisher Scientific in Massachusetts. He also helped a startup biotech company in the Nashville area launch new diagnostic tools — "an invaluable experience," he says. Meanwhile, Nikos, an ardent connoisseur of music whose father was a classical violinist, also found time to serve on the board of the Nashville Opera. Here, as he puts it succinctly, "you can pretty much achieve whatever goals you set."