OHSU

OHSU Research Spawns A Growing Array Of New Companies

10/20/06   Portland, Ore.

Since 2000 OHSU discoveries have led to the formation of 28 new companies, eight in the last two fiscal years, in addition to scores of patent applications, licensing agreements and sponsored research awards

Research performed at Oregon Health & Science University has spurred the formation of 28 new bioscience companies since 2000, eight in the last two fiscal years, most of which are based in Oregon. That brings the total of new companies founded on OHSU research discoveries and technologies to 59.

In fiscal year 2006 OHSU research led to 116 invention disclosures, 49 patent applications, nine patents, 35 license agreements, $4.89 million in industry-sponsored research awards and $1.01 million in gross revenues to the university in addition to three of the eight startup companies.

"OHSU's researchers are making significant contributions to Oregon's economic development, especially as the investments made possible by The Oregon Opportunity and private fundraising begin to have an impact," said Dan Dorsa, Ph.D., OHSU vice president for research. "Our new research facilities on Marquam Hill and in the South Waterfront district have attracted world-class researchers to join OHSU, and the discoveries that they and all of our researchers make are creating new possibilities for therapies, devices, and other products that warrant commercialization," he said.

The Oregon Opportunity combined a voter-approved, one-time state investment of $200 million, which has been supplemented by a private fundraising campaign that has raised nearly $378 million.

"The outlook for bioscience startups in Oregon is brightening because of improving access to venture capital here, which makes it more likely that startups will stay and grow in Oregon rather than being lured away by the availability of bigger pots of venture money elsewhere," said Arundeep Pradhan, director of the OHSU Office of Technology & Research Collaborations (TRC).

TRC is charged with translating discoveries, wherever possible, into business opportunities. TRC works with researchers to identify new developments with commercial potential, obtaining appropriate intellectual property protection and establishing collaborations with industry. As part of this process, TRC has been forging ties with the local entrepreneurial and business communities to create a support framework for startup companies utilizing OHSU research.

TRC's Innovation & Seed Fund is part of that framework. It relies on three main components to catalyze the development and commercialization of OHSU research. The first is the BioScience Innovation Program, which provides funding for technologies that have a clear path to near-term commercial viability or startup investment. It provides funding to demonstrate proof of principle, conduct key experiments, or achieve other necessary milestones. The second is the Springboard Program, which provides selected OHSU startups with access to experts in new venture development, funding for legal and accounting services and assistance with business and strategic plan development. The third is the Startup Investment Program, which provides a mechanism to grow and keep OHSU companies in the region by offering them seed funding in return for a commitment to stay for a proscribed period of time.

Some of the projects supported by the BioScience Innovation Program will be spotlighted at an Innovation Showcase sponsored by TRC Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Miller Auditorium at Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Some of OHSU's leading innovators will talk about what they are doing to take their work from the lab to the marketplace.

The three companies launched in FY2006 utilizing OHSU research are:

* Acute Innovations:  Based on technologies developed by orthopedic and trauma surgeons at OHSU, this new venture funded by Acumed LLC is committed to providing innovative solutions to challenging thoracic surgical procedures.

* SimHealth Consultants:  Founded by OHSU anesthesiologist Michael Seropian, M.D., and Bonnie Driggers, an assistant professor in the OHSU School of Nursing, its mission is to facilitate the integration of simulation-based education in all health care domains and to provide the health care industry with access to expertise to develop top-quality simulation programs.

* NeuroProtect:  This startup is working on new ways to protect the brain from injury due to stroke based on research conducted by Mary Stenzel-Poore, Ph.D., professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, whose work shows that certain compounds, when given in advance of stroke, can produce greater tolerance to brain injury. Stenzel-Poore is slated to be one of the Innovation Showcase speakers.

The five FY 2005 startups are:

* Northwest Education Training and Assessment: NETA has developed a computer-based workplace training program that melds safety and health content in a format that works effectively with people at all organizational levels, including those without computer or educational experience.

* Restoration Genetics:  Founded by researchers Amanda McCullough, Ph.D., and Stephen Lloyd, Ph.D., in OHSU's Center for Research in Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, it has a patented technology that can treat ultraviolet-light-induced DNA damage, which, if not repaired, can result in permanent mutations that eventually can lead to skin cancer. Its technology, if approved by the FDA, may be used to prevent precancerous and cancerous lesions in many at-risk individuals including those with suppressed immune systems due to organ transplant or AIDS, those with a deficiency in the DNA repair system such as xeroderma pigmentosum, and in those who are extremely sensitive to the sun. McCullough will be a speaker at the Innovation Showcase Tuesday.

* Thiakis: Located in the United Kingdom, this biopharmaceutical company is focused on the development of novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of obesity and other metabolic diseases.

* The DNA Repair Company:  Based on the work of Markus Grompe, M.D., director of OHSU's Oregon Stem Cell Center, and Alan D'Andrea, M.D., of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University, it focuses on methods and compositions for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer associated with defective DNA repair mechanisms.

* Recovexx:  Building on technology developed in the neurology laboratory of Bruce Gold, Ph.D., at OHSU's Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology as well as at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Recovexx is engaged in the development of neurological therapeutics affecting recovery and protection of nerve function. Its key product is Timcodar, a compound with neuroregenerative and neuroprotective biological properties, giving it potential therapeutic value for many neuropathies, including diabetic neuropathy and multiple sclerosis.

Another innovator presenting at the Innovation Showcase Tuesday is Stephen Hanson, Ph.D., head of biomedical engineering at OHSU's OGI School of Science & Engineering, who helped develop the technology at the core of products being designed by Revitus, a drug development startup founded in FY2004. Revitus is developing pharmacological treatments for thrombotic vascular disorders, including heart attacks and strokes.

 

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