Translating Research into Products

Patrick Singleton and Frances Lennon. Photo by Lloyd DeGrane

UChicagoTech, the University of Chicago’s Office of Technology and Intellectual Property, recently conducted its second in a series of Translation Events that bring industry experts to campus to advise faculty members interested in translating their discoveries into innovative products and services. The session, held June 30-July 1, focused on biologic therapies, such as peptides, carbohydrate polymers, monoclonal antibodies and gene therapy, and reviewed eight projects in depth.

“With Dr. Garcia, we have already done in vitro and animal tests of our high molecular weight hyaluronan, but we did not know how to proceed from there,” said Patrick Singleton, Assistant Professor of Medicine in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and one of the presenters. “The members of the panel gave us ideas of where to go next and how to get there.” Joe “Skip” Garcia, the Lowell T. Coggeshall Professor of Medicine in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, is a co-developer of the agent in this indication.

The industry experts suggested reviewing the design and outcome of clinical trials outside the U.S., where the evaluation of similar agents in cancer patients led to important information on dosing. They offered thoughts on additional clinical indications where the unique agent might be a good fit, and potential sources of financing. And, they encouraged the group to move now to secure a commercial source for large medical-grade quantities of the agent.

Growing network of experts

The industry experts at the Biologics Translation Event were Martin Sanders (MD ’79) an entrepreneur with extensive experience in biologics research, venture capital and biomedical start-ups; Gray Shaw, a biotechnology consultant with extensive experience in research and drug development, most recently at Wyeth; and Peter Isakson, Site Head for the Abbott Bioresearch Center and Divisional Vice President of Immunology at Abbott, with extensive experience in immunology research.

“Even though most of the University of Chicago’s research is very basic, there are significant entrepreneurial opportunities coming out of the University,” Sanders said at the Biologics Translation Event. “I’m serving on this panel not only to help investigators and UChicagoTech find resources and recognize opportunities but also to see if there’s something I’d like to invest in as an entrepreneur.”

UChicagoTech is building a network of such industry experts to serve at the Translation Events and help identify early stage research that has the potential of leading to patents, licenses, business partnerships, start-up funding, and/or commercialization. It also works with investigators to pursue sources of translational funding. And it helps faculty who wish to present at a Translation Event to prepare their materials.

The first Translation Event in March focused on medicinal chemistry. Future events will occur four to six times a year, and the next ones may cover topics such as diagnostics and biomarkers, medical devices, and information technology and computation.

“We want to enhance the possibility of basic research leading to innovative therapies while preserving the basic research and educational goals of the University,” said David Tiemeier, Deputy Director of UChicagoTech. “We’re here to help faculty who want to test the waters of commercial developmentā€¦build value in their early-stage assets and explore potential business partnerships with existing and new companies.”

By Greg Borzo


*UChicago Tech is now the Tech Commercialization team at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in recognition of a $50M gift from Michael Polsky in 2016 to expanded the Polsky Center in order to unify and enhance UChicago’s leading venture creation initiatives. Learn more about this transformational gift. >>

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