What’s a Phage?

A render of a bacteriphage.

Bacteriophages (or phages for short), are tiny virus-type biological organisms that live all around us.  It is theorized that phages may represent more bio-diversity than any other living thing on the planet. 

Phages also have a great property: they are bacteria parasites.  That is, they feed off bacteria.  They are nature’s original antibiotic!

The trouble is, phages, like most living organisms (especially children), can be picky eaters. A given phage may only be interested in making a meal of a very particular type of bacteria. It will take an extensive scientific and business ecosystem to realize their potential to protect both ourselves and our environment from ever-more-aggressive and resistant infections.

Why Do I Care?

Bacterial disease is progressively confounding medicine as increasingly more multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria evolve. As many as 50,000 deaths per year in the US alone are attributed to Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) bacterial infections, and there is broad concern that these numbers may actually be vastly under-reported.

Paradoxically, those who succumb to these “superbugs” often catch them while in hospitals and other care centers they visited for unrelated and treatable ailments such as injuries, heart disease, diabetes complications, etc. The primary current therapeutic response to MDR is the development of new antibiotics. However, without exception, MDR bacteria eventually evolve to bypass (expensive and time-consuming to develop) antibiotics.

The global market for personalized medicine market size is projected to reach over US$ 5.7 trillion by 2030, a CAGR of more than 10% per year from through 2030. At the same time, the UN World Health Organization has declared MDR bacterial infections to be one of the top ten global health threats. At the intersection of these market forces are bacteriophages (phages), tiny yet immensely useful viruses that can disrupt and even kill specific types of bacterial pathogens. Unlike antibiotics, phages are not drugs, but biological organisms that are a natural counter to bacteria.

Founding Team

Photo of Founder Dr Phil Serwer
Phil Serwer, PhD

Founder/Chief Science Officer

Made the study of bacteriophages his life’s work.
Called “Phage Yoda” by fellow researchers.

Professor of Biochemistry and Structural Biology
UT Health Science Center San Antonio

Harvard University
PhD Biophysics

Editorial board of Bacteriophage
International Society for Viruses of Microorganisms
International Journal of Molecular Sciences
NIH and NSF grants awarded: 19
Private Foundation grants awarded: 19
Patents: 10

Photo of Co-Founder Dr Jim Chambers
Jim Chambers, PhD

Co-founder/EVP Product

Principal scientist behind the viral transport safety
reagent that is the standard for COVID-19 PCR tests.

Professor of Microbiology
University of Texas at San Antonio

UT Health Science Center San Antonio
PhD Biochemistry

U.S. Army Distinguished Research Service Award
U.S. Air Force University Resident Research Scholar
UT San Antonio President’s Award for Research Excellence UT San Antonio “Million Dollar Scholar”
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Pathogens
Elected Fellow, Am Assoc for the Advancement of Science

Picture of Founding CEO Bill Tolhurst
Bill Tolhurst


Serial Entrepreneur in wireless, location services, SaaS, IoT and renewable energy.
Phage “Village Idiot”.

UT San Antonio, Georgia Institute of Technology
Harvard Business School, The Wharton School

HBS Club of San Antonio
Past President

Hewlett Packard Bravo Leadership Award
HP Customer Council
Cisco Systems Customer Council
Finalist, HBS Alumni New Venture Competition
San Antonio TechBoosters: Founding Chairman
Patents: 13

Partners and Affiliates

We know that a company’s success depends strongly on having great relationships with like-minded members of our community, industry,
and the larger business ecosystem. So we’re proud to highlight these organizations that have been so helpful in both
getting us where we are and where we’re headed.

Thank You!

BioMedSA home
VelocityTX home
HBS Club of San Antonio home


As a growing company, Phage Refinery is always excited to speak with well-qualified investors that are keen to join us on our journey.
Just click on the button below to let us know you’re interested, and we’ll be happy to talk more about the opportunity.

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