CU announces Denver | Anschutz Technology Transfer Awards

By Staff

The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) on Tuesday presented awards to university researchers and companies who represent best practices in commercialization of university technologies.

The TTO presented awards to a CU School of Medicine inventor, a startup company and a business advisor during its awards luncheon at the Anschutz Medical Campus, along with recognizing researchers who were awarded U.S. patents last year. The luncheon also featured remarks from Lilly Marks, Executive Vice Chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus and CU Vice President for Health Affairs, and William Arend, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and inventor of Kineret, the first FDA-approved drug developed at CU.

In the last two decades, inventions by researchers from CU’s four campuses have led to the formation of 124 new companies. Of these, 88 have operations in Colorado, seven have “gone public,” becoming publicly traded companies (either through an IPO or via a reverse merger), and 18 have been acquired by public companies. In total, companies created based on CU technology have attracted over $6.1 billion in financing.

“One of the highlights of the year for TTO staff is taking time out to recognize the excellence in our research enterprise,” said Rick Silva, Senior Director of Technology Transfer for CU Denver|Anschutz. “The potential impact of the contributions that the awardees have made to their fields, and to medicine in general, are substantial: millions of people can be positively impacted by the biomedical innovations our awardees have committed their lives and careers to developing. Their devotion to their work exemplifies the mix of optimism and ingenuity necessary to achieve something as difficult as developing a drug. Congratulations and thanks to Drs. Bennett, Duke, Holmes, Hodges, and Lacey for the excellent work they do for society.”

This year’s award winners:

Jeffrey Bennett, Inventor of the Year, CU Denver|Anschutz. Bennett, a professor of neurology and ophthalmology in the CU School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology, developed a new treatment for neuromyelitis optica, a rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and demyelination of nerve cells, ultimately leading to loss of nerve function with significant morbidity and mortality. With his collaborators, Dr. Bennett created a human recombinant monoclonal antibody to target NMO; this technology has been optioned to a venture-backed startup company cofounded by the inventors.

PeptiVir, Company of the Year, CU Denver|Anschutz. PeptiVir, Inc. (Aurora, CO) is an early stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of a vaccine platform for the prevention of viral diseases. PeptiVir’s lead product, PVI-1000, has the potential to be a “universal” influenza vaccine protecting across multiple strains, with either one-time administration or occasional boosters providing protection for multiple seasons. PeptiVir was founded in 2010 based on the work of a CU research group led by Robert Hodges, PhD (Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics) and Kathryn Holmes, PhD (emerita, Microbiology) of the CU School of Medicine. The research program was one of the first to receive funding from the State of Colorado Bioscience and Discovery Evaluation Grant (BDEG) program; the company also received funding through the matching grant portion of the BDEG program. The company’s acting CEO is Richard Duke, PhD, also of the CU School of Medicine; Duke, along with the Colorado Institute for Drug, Device and Diagnostic Development (CID4), played a leading role in PeptiVir’s founding and funding.

David Lacey, Business Advisory of the Year. Lacey is a former Senior Vice President and Head of Discovery Research at Amgen, and holds an MD from the University of Colorado; he has over 30 years of basic and clinical research experience. He has served as an advisor to the Colorado Bioscience Discovery and Evaluation Grant (BDEG) program, and has generously advised the university on commercialization matters, development programs, and transactions.

Awards to CU researchers and startups at other CU campuses were presented at separate campus events in April.