Awards honor teamwork of CU researchers, private-sector business

Technology Transfer Office hosts event tonight
By Staff

The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office tonight honors CU faculty and outside companies collaborating on the development of treatments for infectious diseases, programs to help recovering trauma victims, human eye care, human medical devices and children's literacy.

The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office will host its annual awards ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at the historic Tivoli Turnhalle on the Auraria Campus in Denver (invite only). A panel discussion about the university's entrepreneurial ecosystem will precede the awards, which recognize five faculty researchers, two companies founded on university research and an Aurora organization helping local bioscience companies start up and grow.

Over the past two decades, CU researchers have developed technologies that have led to the creation of 94 new companies (view PDF). Of these, 77 have operations in Colorado, seven have become publicly traded companies (either through an IPO or via a reverse merger) and 12 have been acquired by public companies. Companies created based on CU technology have attracted more than $4 billion in financing.

"Technology transfer is the process of conveying university research inventions to companies," said David Allen, associate vice president for technology transfer at CU. "Most of the companies that license CU technology operate in Colorado. This annual event is one way to highlight one often-overlooked aspect of CU's impact on the state's economy and human betterment."

This year's award winners:

Robert T. Batey; Inventor of the Year, University of Colorado at Boulder.
Batey, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, works with riboswitches (recently discovered genetic regulatory elements). A large portfolio of riboswitch technologies from Batey's lab have been licensed by BioRelix Inc., which develops novel and highly potent anti-infective compounds against pathogens resistant to currently available drugs.

Robert S. Hodges; Inventor of the Year, Anschutz Medical Campus.
Hodges, a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, works on understanding protein structure and function through synthetic peptide and antipeptide therapeutic approaches. Antimicrobial peptide technology from Hodges' lab was licensed to BioAMPS International in 2009; he is currently collaborating on a project to develop a universal vaccine against influenza infection.

Mark E. Rentschler; New Inventor of the Year, CU-Boulder.
An assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Rentschler's work is focused on biomechanics, medical devices and robotics, particularly actuator and sensor design and development for micro-robotic applications.

Malik Y. Kahook; New Inventor of the Year, Anschutz Medical Campus.
An associate professor of ophthalmology, Kahook specializes in the medical and surgical care of glaucoma and cataracts. Kahook recently received sponsored research funds from a pharmaceutical company that may be followed up with an option agreement for one of his inventions, a noninvasive device for lowering intraocular pressure.

Charles C. Benight; New Inventor of the Year, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Benight, a professor of psychology, studies human adaptation from trauma; over the past 14 years, he has focused research on recovery from natural disasters, man-made disasters, motor vehicle accident trauma, sexual abuse, domestic violence and bereavement. In 2009, Dr. Benight's trauma recovery programs were licensed by BlueSun Inc.

GlobeImmune Inc.; Bioscience Company of the Year.
GlobeImmune, based in Louisville, is a private biopharmaceutical company developing targeted molecular immunogens (Tarmogens) for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases. GlobeImmune has two products in randomized Phase 2 clinical trials: GI-5005 for chronic hepatitis C infection (HCV) and GI-4000 for pancreas, lung and colorectal cancers caused by mutations in the Ras oncogene. GlobeImmune has raised more than $145 million in venture and alliance funding to date.

Mentor InterActive Inc.; Physical Sciences/Engineering/IT Company of the Year.
Mentor InterActive Inc., based in Boulder, publishes and markets interactive software based on the proven Foundations to Literacy reading program developed at CU-Boulder. The first products in the My Virtual Tutor: Reading line debuted in September 2009 at leading retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Mentor InterActive recently signed a licensing agreement with Nintendo of America Inc. to develop My Virtual Tutor: Reading for Nintendo DS and Wii video game systems.

Fitzsimons BioBusiness Partners, Michael Artinger, Director; Business Adviser of the Year.
Fitzsimons BioBusiness Partners (FBBp) is the premier advisory group serving the Colorado bioscience community, nurturing bioscience businesses in order to establish a global position for the industry at the Colorado Science + Technology Park at Fitzsimons. FBBp plays a critical part in helping CU Tech Transfer fulfill its role in spinning out new enterprises and helping those enterprises compete for grants and investment capital and become sustainable and growing companies.

The CU Technology Transfer Office pursues, protects, packages, and licenses to business the intellectual property generated from research at CU. The TTO provides assistance to faculty, staff, and students, as well as to businesses looking to license or invest in CU technology.