Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Cedric Francois

Cedric Francois describes the human immune system in military terms: scout cells go out looking for enemies, then signal the soldier cells to attack and destroy them. The drug therapies he’s worked to develop focus on the scout cells, which can give the wrong instructions to the fighter cells under their command. Cedric has co-founded two pharmaceutical companies now, seeking more effective therapies for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and Macular Degeneration.

Cedric was born in Belgium, where he says, “we love the U.S.” He was working on his plastic surgery residency in Argentina, but residencies are unpaid there, and his money was running short. Meanwhile, doctors in Louisville were beginning to work on the first hand transplant. Cedric wanted to be a part of the project, so after saving some money during a year-long stint as a cruise ship physician, he headed here, or as he says, “Louisville chose me, not vice versa.”

Initially planning to stay for a few years and finish his PhD, he says he fell in love with the U.S. and that’s when he turned his attention to medical research. Cedric sat down with WFPL’s Phillip M. Bailey in the offices of Apellis Pharmaceuticals, his second drug company. He talked about his experiences as an immigrant entrepreneur in Louisville, including whether he’d ever felt he faced discrimination.

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Hear more interviews in our Immigrant Entrepreneurs series, made possible by a grant from the Greater Louisville International Professionals.