UNMC student picked as Pipeline Spotlight Entrepreneur

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OMAHA, Neb. (December 11, 2017)—William Payne, a doctoral student of pharmaceutical sciences at UNMC, was recently selected as the University of Nebraska’s top choice to present his business plan at the largest entrepreneurial conference in the region next month.

Payne’s business plan rose to the top of a selection process that pulled the best proposals from all University of Nebraska campuses. He will join three other “Pipeline Spotlight Entrepreneurs” who will pitch their ideas during Pipeline’s annual Innovation Awards on Jan. 25, 2018, in Kansas City. Other Spotlight Entrepreneurs will represent the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri and Washington University in St. Louis.

Pipeline is an entrepreneurial mentoring program in the Midwest that offers a handful of highly selective entrepreneurial fellowships each year. Fellows in the Pipeline program received hands-on training from successful entrepreneurs and mentors from around the region and across the nation. The program helps fellows refine their business plans, raise money and dramatically improve their chances for ultimate success.

The four students selected as Pipeline Spotlight Entrepreneurs will receive similar guidance, with regional and national mentors helping the entrepreneurs refine their company pitches. The final test will come during Pipeline’s annual conference next month. There, the student entrepreneurs will get the rare opportunity to propose their ideas to a room full of potential investors and partners.

UNMC’s Payne will present his startup company, Simple Vet Solutions.

“Will has already accomplished something that many entrepreneurs struggle with,” said UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon, who also serves as a mentor for Pipeline. “He went out and identified a real problem, then he created a real solution. And, he already has people that are paying real money for that solution. Sounds simple enough, but those are three critical elements that don’t always come together for entrepreneurs.”

Payne partnered with his veterinarian father, Bert, to create Simple Vet Solutions. It’s a software service that eliminates the extra time and energy required to meet FDA regulations for animal medications.

Simple Vet Solutions, according to the executive summary in the business plan, offers “secure and compliant management of veterinary prescriptions and feed directives for any size of livestock operation, veterinary practice, or feed distributor.”

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How we can help: Agreements

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by Catherine Murari-Kanti, UNeMed | December 6, 2017

Part four of a series

Collaboration is encouraged and celebrated in the scientific process. Collaboration, however involves the exchange of material or ideas. Inventors and owners could lose their ideas or their materials if they aren’t protected properly.

Confidential Disclosure Agreements and Material Transfer Agreements are therefore vital to the innovation and collaboration process.

Material Transfer Agreements:

Material Transfer Agreements or MTAs are contractual documents between the University of Nebraska and external entities for the exchange and use of tangible research material. The terms of an MTA should allow a researcher to perform experiments, publish data and exert rights to ownership without conflicting with the University’s policies.

Simple MTA terms between universities are usually negotiated between the technology transfer offices, and can be accomplished in as little as a few days, in some cases. More complicated MTAs may require weeks of negotiation. This ensure that the researcher’s rights are protected and that they retain their ability to commercialize at a later point.

At Nebraska, tangible materials can include molecular biology reagents, cell lines, recombinant mice, devices or even software.

The inventor or researcher plays an important role in drafting and negotiating the MTA.

Describing research plans and the use of transferred materials will allow UNeMed’s contract manager to file an MTA that will closely serve the researcher’s purposes. Researchers are required to read, review and sign the final document.

To expedite the process researchers will need:

  1. Information related to the source of funding
  2. Original source of the materials (or any portion of the material)
  3. A description of the intended research making use of the materials
  4. Names, addresses and other pertinent information on the receiver or sender of the materials

Confidential Disclosure Agreements:

Also called NDAs or non-disclosure agreements, Confidential Disclosure Agreements, or CDAs, enable University of Nebraska faculty, students or staff to speak with a third party.

For example, if you are an investigator or researcher, you may want to share a new research discovery with a friend who works in the industry. You think that industry input is important in pivoting your research in the right direction. But, if you share your research without first having a CDA in place, you jeopardize your research and its commercialization potential. Filing a CDA protects your work and allows you to share unpublished information with academic collaborators or commercial partners.

UNeMed actively markets University inventions to respective industries. If a company expresses interest, the licensing team sets up a CDA with the company. CDAs further enable discussion of business development information or early-stage scientific collaboration.

Premature public disclosure can limit or even remove patent rights. A simple CDA can prevent that.

To set up an MTA or a CDA contact UNeMed at 402-559-2468 or at unemed@unmc.edu.

This is part of a series of blog posts covering the many services UNeMed provides for faculty, students and staff at UNMC and UNO. Our next installment will dive a little deeper into intellectual property. Here’s the full list of planned topics:

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How we can help: Our Process

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by Catherine Murari-Kanti, UNeMed | November 22, 2017

Part three of a series

Once an invention arrives in our inbox, our process begins and it is assigned to one of the licensing team members. They will set up a time to meet with the inventor and learn more about the innovation.

UNeMed will then search for “prior-art,” looking for evidence that the invention might already exist. If the invention was used in some other technology or was mentioned elsewhere, then it is not novel. .

UNeMed also performs “competing searches” that seek other inventions that perform the same job as the new invention.

Finally, market analysis and research then tells UNeMed staff what products are currently available, and what the market currently needs.

All of this information is presented to the Science and Technology Advisory Committee for a full review and discussion about the invention’s merits and potential. The committee will then discuss the best course of action for the technology and make a final recommendation.

Inventions with prior art are typically “closed” unless an inventor can find a new approach that makes the innovation novel. UNeMed clearly articulates all the reasons why an invention will be closed, ideally informing a new course of study for innovative researchers.

If an invention is not ready for commercialization then it is classified as “additional research needed.” UNeMed will discuss what additional needs will make the invention ready for protection and market success.

There are certain inventions where UNeMed seeks to know the market’s mind. This is when UNeMed moves the invention into “market” status. Marketing activities are done confidentially and industry feedback is recorded and shared with the inventor. This helps the inventor shape the innovation into something the market needs.

And then there are the novel, non-obvious and useful inventions. These are inventions and discoveries that didn’t have any prior art and there is a clear need on the market. When this happens, UNeMed takes all precautions to protect the invention, which includes filing patent applications or other forms of intellectual property.  UNeMed will also start actively marketing the technology for market feedback and potential licensing partners who can fund further development.

This is part of a series of blog posts covering the many services UNeMed provides for faculty, students and staff at UNMC and UNO. Our next installment will dive a little deeper into exactly what happens when UNeMed receives a new invention notification. Here’s the full list of planned topics:

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Solving the tech transfer data problem

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by Steve Schreiner, UNeMed | November 15, 2017

Tech transfer offices generate reams of data, but apparently have no good way to manage it. I’ve had a relatively large number of conversations with academic, private and government contacts who asked about our system, and how it compares to what they currently use.

I came away with two broad, somewhat obvious generalizations: There is no single solution in use across TTOs, and most offices are unhappy with their current solution.

No surprises there, but despite the overall dissatisfaction there does appear to be a great deal of angst about making a change. Even for something better. A significant financial investment was often made for some of these solutions, and abandoning them seems to be a great waste of limited resources.

I have heard about products costing tens of thousands of dollars, with substantial additional costs for any customization. I know of “homegrown” systems created more than a decade ago that no one really knows how to update or fix.

Everyone agrees they need a better way of managing their data.

But few know how to proceed.

In 2007, we embarked on finding a system that would take care of our data needs, while allowing customization and growth as we evolved. Starting from Excel spreadsheets and tables of numbers in Word documents, we set out to establish a solution that would serve our office and support the new way that UNeMed was going to operate.

We set out to find a solution that would allow for the collection, management and use of data generated from all of our combined functions. Whether it be invention evaluation, patenting or marketing and licensing, we hoped to find something that could handle it all, while being nimble enough not to control or drive how the office would work. We wanted something responsive, not restrictive.

I agreed to help the office find this golden goose, but then I was put in charge of the search after the loss of key player to another TTO. Knowing very little about the first system we decided to test, I was left to determine its applicability to our office. I had some IT background, mostly some lower level programming in college, which made me the office expert. I was hesitant to fill such a role, but it was a resource the office needed, so I dug in to see what it, and I, could do.

That was more than 10 years ago, and we continue to use and develop that same system today. It has changed and evolved over the years, and almost daily we think of new, better ways to employ it.

The solution we chose was Salesforce CRM.

Why? At first I wasn’t sure. It seemed capable but daunting in its application.

People in the office asked, “What can it do?” But that was the wrong question. More appropriate: “What can’t it do?”

The answer after all this time: Nothing that I know of.

I’ve spent the last 10 years learning how to make it serve our needs, and those requirements continue to change. That is one of the most powerful aspects of the system. I can modify it in small ways, or completely scrap a function that was previously in place.

Does it take time? Sure.

But remember, we wanted a system that was responsive. As the office changes, our system can change to stay relevant, and reflect our current way of operating.

The most important thing I tell those who ask about Salesforce is that it is a platform. If you want an out-of-the-box solution for a tech transfer office, Salesforce is not what you want. But with an investment in time and thought, it can empower your data; allowing you deeper analysis and memories of all that your TTO does. It can help your people manage their workload and time.

From invention evaluation, to IP prosecution, to marketing and licensing, to agreement compliance, it can do it all…how you want it done. Most of it can be done with basic, in-house IT expertise. But if you need something specific that’s beyond your ability, consultants and local user and developer groups are everywhere to help you out.

People ask me: “What can it do?”

I respond: “What do you want it to do?”

Believe it or not, I’m serious.

This was the first part of a planned series on TTO data management. Future installments will include how UNeMed uses Salesforce to handle invention disclosures and federal reporting requirements, intellectual property, marketing, licensing, contract compliance. and a few other functions performed by UNeMed.

 

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How we can help: Inventions

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by Catherine Murari-Kanti, UNeMed | November 15, 2017

Part two of a series

An invention is a new discovery, concept, design, device, composition, and system or software program. Typical UNMC inventions include therapeutics, diagnostics, drug delivery platforms, medical devices, new uses of existing drugs, medical devices, research tools, educational materials and software.

What sets an invention apart is the difference from what’s already out there. An invention has product value, a good intellectual property position, and good commercial potential.

How do I submit my inventions?

To disclose an invention to UNeMed, you simply fill out a New Invention Notification. Once the form is completed and signed by all inventors, you can email the disclosure to unemed@unmc.edu.

It’s important that you disclose your invention to UNeMed BEFORE any public disclosure is made.

The new invention notification creates a written, dated record of your invention. The form also helps UNeMed evaluate the invention’s potential for and commercial applications and possible intellectual property positions. The form also ensures compliance with U.S. federal laws, University policy and the policies of several research-funding agencies.

What is a public disclosure?

A public disclosure can include published papers, oral and poster presentations, any seminars, abstracts, funded grant applications, or open dissertation defenses. This also includes sharing the idea with fellow colleagues or friends.

A public disclosure can result in the loss of foreign patent rights and limits UNeMed to one year from the disclosure date to secure U.S. patent rights. Loss of foreign patent rights can decrease the value and overall appeal of a technology.

The easiest (and best) way to protect your rights is to work with UNeMed. Disclose your discoveries to UNeMed before presenting or publishing.

Why submit your inventions and discoveries to UNeMed?

New invention submissions open the communications between you and UNeMed. From there, UNeMed can determine if an invention requires protection, and begin the hunt for commercial partners to help fund further development.

It also helps UNeMed disclose all federally funded inventions to the appropriate government agencies.

All information disclosed in a new invention notification are confidential, and access is strictly limited to UNeMed’s professional staff.

What happens after I submit my invention?

A member of UNeMed’s licensing team will meet with inventors to discuss the details and applications of the invention. Meeting with inventors helps UNeMed better understand the invention, and conduct a full analysis to determine the best course of action.

UNeMed will then convene its Science and Technology Advisory Committee, for a final review of the invention and examine its potential to obtain effective IP protection, stimulate business interest, and contribute to economic development.

The technology manager assigned to the invention will then take any recommendations that come from the committee and discuss potential options for moving the invention forward.

This is part of a series of blog posts covering the many services UNeMed provides for faculty, students and staff at UNMC and UNO. Our next installment will dive a little deeper into exactly what happens when UNeMed receives a new invention notification. Here’s the full list of planned topics:

 

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Breakthrough research suggests potential treatment for autism, intellectual disability

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by Liz Kumru, UNMC

A breakthrough in finding the mechanism and a possible therapeutic fix for autism and intellectual disability has been made by a University of Nebraska Medical Center researcher and his team at the Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI).

Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D., associate professor, developmental neuroscience, led a team of researchers from UNMC and Creighton University into a deeper exploration of a genetic mutation that reduces the function of certain neurons in the brain.

Dr. Kim’s findings were published in this week’s online issue of Nature Neuroscience.

“This is an exciting development because we have identified the pathological mechanism for a certain type of autism and intellectual disability,” Dr. Kim said.

Recent studies have shown that the disorder occurs when a first-time mutation causes only one copy of the human AT-rich interactive domain 1B (ARID1B) gene to remain functional, but it was unknown how it led to abnormal cognitive and social behaviors.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impairs the ability of individuals to communicate and interact with others. About 75 percent of individuals with ASD also have intellectual disability, which is characterized by significant limitations in cognitive functions and adaptive behaviors.

There are no drugs or genetic treatments to prevent ASD or intellectual disability; the only treatment options focus on behavioral management and educational and physical therapies.

The team created and analyzed a genetically modified mouse and found that a mutated Arid1b gene impairs GABA neurons, the ‘downer’ neurotransmitter, leading to an imbalance of communication in the brain.

GABA blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Low levels of GABA may be linked to anxiety or mood disorders, epilepsy and chronic pain. It counters glutamate (the upper neurotransmitter), as the two mediate brain activation in a Ying and Yang manner. People take GABA supplements for anxiety.

“In normal behavior, the brain is balanced between excitation and inhibition,” Dr. Kim said. “But when the inhibition is decreased, the balance is broken and the brain becomes more excited causing abnormal behavior.

“We showed that cognitive and social deficits induced by an Arid1b mutation in mice are reversed by pharmacological treatment with a GABA receptor modulating drug. And, now we have a designer mouse that can be used for future studies.”

Next steps for Dr. Kim and his team are to even further refine the specific mechanism for autism and intellectual disability and to identify which of the many GABA neurons are specifically involved.

Dr. Kim’s research was supported by a $1.7 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and a $400,000 Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

Team members were: Eui-Man Jung, post-doc research associate, and Channabasavaiah Gurumurthy, Ph.D., associate professor, MMI; Jeffrey Jay Moffat, graduate research assistant, pharmacology/experimental neuroscience, UNMC; and Shashank Dravid, Ph.D., associate professor, and Jinxu Liu, pharmacology, Creighton University.

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UNMC researcher studying nanofiber sutures to prevent surgical site infections

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$1.3 million NIH grant seeks to determine if vitamin D can produce infection-fighting peptide

by Tom O’Connor, UNMC

Jingwei Xie, Ph.D, a biomedical engineer at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, has been awarded a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the nanofiber-based local delivery of immunomodulating compounds for prevention of surgical site infections (SSIs). The nanofiber sutures contain vitamin D, which is thought to be able to induce production of an infection-fighting peptide at the surgical site.

If proven successful in transgenic mice, the nanofiber sutures could represent an important advance in the prevention of SSIs, a multibillion-dollar challenge each year in the United States.

The grant is through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, one of the institutes of the NIH.

Pictured are (from left) UNMC and UNO Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, Jingwei Xie, Mark Carlson, and UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon. Late last month, Dr. Xie, along with Dr. Carlson and Shixoun Chen (not pictured), were awarded UNeMed’s Most Promising New Invention award of 2017 for a nanofiber technology.

Dr. Xie, who is an assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Surgery – Transplant and the Holland Regenerative Medicine Program, is the principal investigator on the grant. He is collaborating with Adrian F. Gombart, Ph.D., associate professor, biochemistry and biophysics, in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University (OSU).  OSU is conducting the testing on the humanized transgenic mice for its part of the study.

“This is an exciting project,” Dr. Xie said. “SSIs are a very common problem affecting as many as 300,000 patients per year in the U.S.. If we could reduce these infections, it would be a major breakthrough.”

SSIs include infections in the area of the skin where the incision is made, infections below the incision in muscles and tissues surrounding muscles and infections in other parts of the body involved in the surgery.

SSIs are the most common and costly of all hospital-acquired infections, accounting for 20 percent of all hospital-acquired infections. They occur in an estimated 2 percent to 5 percent of patients undergoing inpatient surgery. The estimated annual incidence of SSIs in the U.S. ranges from 160,000 to 300,000, and the estimated annual cost ranges from $3.5 billion to $10 billion. On average, a SSI increases the hospital length of stay by 9.7 days.

The nanofiber sutures contain 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25D3) and the pam3CSK4 peptide. A peptide is a compound consisting of two or more amino acids linked in a chain; pam3CSK4’s function is to activate a cell’s toll-like receptor, which in turn triggers immune responses, in which vitamin D plays a key role.

The research, which was published in the journal Nanomedicine recently, showed the nanofiber sutures released 25D3 – the same form of the vitamin that’s measured in the blood when a patient’s vitamin D levels are tested – on a sustained basis over four weeks. The sutures released pam3CSK4 via an initial burst followed by a four-week prolonged release.

“When the toll-like receptor is activated, you induce a particular enzyme to convert 25D3 to its bioactive form, known as 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 (1,25D3), that activates the vitamin D receptor,” Dr. Gombart said. “When activity increases, that increases expression of vitamin D receptor target genes, one of which produces the LL-37 peptide, which kills microbes by disrupting their membranes.

“The idea is, if you were to have an infection, the sutures would activate the toll-like receptors and start increasing production of 1,25D3 from the 25D3 that’s being released from sutures – so you get both local induction and an increase in the production of the antimicrobial peptide.”

Dr. Xie said the anti-infective sutures currently in use contain triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent also found in a variety of consumer products.

The nanofiber sutures can deliver a variety of bioactive compounds to minimize infection risk, optimize healing and minimize scarring, while circumventing some of the problems seen with anti-infective sutures containing triclosan.

When used frequently, triclosan sutures have resulted in bacterial resistance, Dr. Xie said. In addition, the triclosan sutures also have a wide range of potential health risks including endocrine disruption, impaired muscle function, liver damage and the development of cancerous tumors.

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2017 Innovation Awards: Suh named Emerging Inventor of year

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2017 Innovation Awards

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story omitted Shixuan Chen, Ph.D., as a co-inventor on the Most Promising New Invention. We regret the error.

OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 26, 2017)—Pediatric ophthalmologist Donny Suh, M.D., was named the 2017 Emerging Inventor during UNeMed’s annual Research Innovation Awards Banquet Thursday night.

In addition to recognizing the work of all inventors at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, UNeMed also announced the Most Promising New Invention of 2017. That award was received by co-inventors Mark Carlson, M.D., Jingwei Xie, Ph.D., and Shixuan Chen, Ph.D.

Donny Suh, M.D., (right) was named UNeMed’s Emerging Inventor of the year during the 11th annual Research Innovation Awards Banquet on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.

Held at the Michael F. Sorrell Center’s Truhlsen Campus Events Center at UNMC, the Innovation Awards Banquet recognized inventive faculty, students and staff at the University’s Omaha campuses. The event rewards the achievements of those who submitted a new invention, received a U.S. patent or licensed a technology during the previous fiscal year.

James Linder, M.D., delivered a keynote address that explored five key elements of innovation. His main points included the power of the university; the patience needed for the “long road of innovation;” knowing your own strengths and weaknesses; and seizing the opportunities that arise during the accumulation of experience.

His final point centered on the reward of innovation. It’s not the potential of financial gain that keeps the wheels turning on the road from the idea to commercial success.

“The ultimate reward is improving lives,” said Dr. Linder, who served as the Interim President of the University of Nebraska in 2014 and currently heads the University Technology Development Corporation. “The real reward is seeing your research or discoveries actually put into practice.”

James Linder, M.D., president of the University Technology Development Corporation at the University of Nebraska, delivered the keynote address at UNeMed’s 11th annual Research Innovation Awards Banquet on Oct. 26, 2017. Dr. Linder is the former President and CEO of UNeMed and also served as Interim President of the University in 2014.

The evening began with brief remarks from UNMC and UNO Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, M.D., who told an estimated crowd of 148 about the University of Nebraska’s value to the state, region and nation at large.

Nebraska is “a critically important part” of the future, he said, creating tomorrow’s workforce; developing the next generation of treatments, cures and discoveries; and providing power to the local economic engine through its technology transfer efforts.

“I just wanted to make sure that you heard loud and clear how much we appreciate you, and that I personally appreciate everything you do,” he told a room full of academic researchers and inventors.

Dr. Suh, the Emerging Inventor winner, developed several new inventions during the previous fiscal year. An associate professor in UNMC’s department of ophthalmology and visual sciences, Dr. Suh submitted five inventions in 2017, four of which allow for more precision and stability while performing delicate procedures on or around the eye. They include clever designs to common medical tools such as a syringe, forceps and a needle holder.

Drs. Carlson, Xie and Chen earned the most promising new invention award for their collaboration on a medical device that has the potential to stop severe bleeding. The device is a sponge made from nanofibers using a proprietary process. The sponges show particular promise in traumatic abdominal injuries, where applying pressure to stop or slow bleeding would be almost impossible.

The sponges are more absorbent than traditional sponges, and yet retain their overall size and shape. They can also be manufactured into a wide range of sizes of shapes to fit differing needs. Dr. Carlson is a professor in UNMC’s department of surgery, and Dr. Xie is an assistant professor UNMC’s regenerative medicine program. Dr. Chen is a post-doctoral research associate at UNMC.

Pictured are (from left) UNMC and UNO Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, coinventors Jingwei Xie and Mark Carlson, and UNeMed President and CEO Michael Dixon. Not pictured: Co-inventor Shixuan Chen.

Other innovation Week events included a Kick-Off event; a panel discussion about intellectual property issues that might emanate from the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool; a hands-on workshop aimed at helping researchers perform their own patent searches; a panel discussion about alternative science careers; and a luncheon focused on celebrating Nebraska women in science, technology, engineering and math. The luncheon was hosted and sponsored by BioNebraska.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

 

2017 Innovation Awards Program by UNeMed Corporation on Scribd

 

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Beyond the Bench: Panel to discuss alternate careers in science

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Dr. Hawley

OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 27, 2017)—Innovation Week wraps up today with a panel discussion about alternate science careers at 11:30 a.m. in the Yanney Conference Center, located on the ground floor of the Fred and Pamela Buffet Cancer Center.

The first 50 guests will receive a free lunch, and other freebies will be given away to those who ask questions and engage the panel in a meaningful way.

Panelists will include former research scientists who now work in a range of science-related fields. They are expected to discuss their personal journeys as biomedical scientists, how they arrived in their present occupations, and offer advice to others who may be interested in a science career away from the research bench.

The panelists are Amanda Hawley, Ph.D., Brandon Hillman, Ph.D., Agnes Lenagh, Ph.D., and Gary Madsen, Ph.D.

Dr. Hillman

Dr. Hawley is a Business Development & Intellectual Property Associate Manager at LI-COR Biosciences, a biotech company based in Lincoln, Neb. A former Licensing Associate at UNeMed, Dr. Hawley protects and maintains LI-COR’s intellectual property portfolio of current and emerging innovations as well as executes intellectual property reviews and strategies. She also negotiates a wide variety of agreements with academic and industrial entities.

Dr. Hillman is a Regional Director of Medical Science Liaisons at Eye Care of Allergan, and currently has eight MSLs that report to him in the western region of the United States. He graduated from Creighton University with a Ph.D. in Pharmacology in 2012.  After two years of post-doctoral work at Creighton University Medical Center he transitioned to the pharmaceutical industry as a Medical Science Liaison with Allergan.

Dr. Lenagh

Dr. Lenagh is a Business Development Associate at Streck, Inc. She helps identify and strategically assess internal and external opportunities to create long-term value for Streck, Inc. Prior to joining Streck in 2017, she spent five years working at UNeMed Corporation where she was responsible for evaluating intellectual property landscape and commercial prospects of scientific innovations and promoting their commercialization.

Dr. Madsen is the co-founder, President and CEO of ProTransit Nanotherapy, an Omaha startup built on an UNMC invention. The invention is a nanoparticle delivery platform is comprised of biodegradable, controlled release particles that can be targeted for specific cell binding sites. Dr. Madsen has more than 30 years of experience in developing and launching many different biotechnology products in a wide variety of markets at companies of various sizes. He spent 17 years at Abbott Laboratories in product support, new product development and business development.

Dr. Madsen

The panel discussion is part of Innovation Week, a series of events hosted by UNeMed Corporation as a celebration of the innovation and discovery that happens every year at UNMC.

Earlier this week, UNeMed hosted a Kick-Off event; a panel discussion about the CRISPR gene-editing tool; an instructional workshop on perform patent searches for biomedical research projects; and the 11th annual Research Innovation Awards Banquet.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week

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Innovation Awards are tonight

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OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 26, 2017)—Innovation Week reaches its apex tonight with the 11th annual Research Innovation Awards Banquet at 5 p.m. in the Truhlsen Campus Events Center.

The awards honor UNMC and UNO students, faculty and staff who disclosed to UNeMed a new invention, received a U.S. patent where a contributor on a licensed technology. UNeMed will also announce the 2017 Emerging Inventor of the year and the Most Promising New Invention of 2017.

The Innovation Awards is an invitation-only event. Contact UNeMed to request an invitation.

Innovation Week wraps up on Friday, Oct. 27, with a panel discussion about alternate career options for scientists.

Earlier this week, UNeMed hosted a Kick-Off event, a panel discussion about the CRISPR gene-editing tool, and an instructional worskshop on perform patent searches for biomedical research projects.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Innovation Evolution: The big idea is only the beginning

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by Charles Litton, UNeMed | October 25, 2017

Darkness often represents uncertainty. The unanswered question. The unsolved problem.

Illumination, then, reveals the unknown. Lights the path to answers. Unveils potential solutions.

It should be obvious why the light bulb has become one of the more persistent clichés on the planet. The symbolic meaning of a light bulb has entrenched itself in the public psyche as the ultimate brand for inventive creativity. It’s true that the light bulb is a cornerstone achievement for modern civilization, but that doesn’t fully explain its symbolic ubiquity.

It’s really about the light itself: the antidote for darkness.

Before Thomas Edison, the symbol was a simple flame, such as you might see flickering from a candle or oil lamp.

But look closer at Edison’s light bulb.

He tried hundreds, if not thousands, of different concepts in his quest for electric light—Different filaments, in different shapes, in different sizes and different metals, encased in different gases… The original idea turned out to be something different than what ultimately succeeded. And this was long, long after people devised flaming sticks, candles, oil lamps, gas lanterns and whatever else they used in times past to light the way.

And the journey continues today: That first light bulb looks considerably different than today’s modern LED light. What new forms—presently inconceivable—will light the darkness for us in another 100 years?

That mystery of an invention’s maturation is the very core of innovation. It’s the incremental change from the first grand idea to the thing that emerges from the development process…and then continues to evolve.

As a commercialization and technology transfer office for a major university medical school, UNeMed sees first-hand how innovations can play out like this.

Sometimes the idea is too advanced to work in the here and now.

We saw that about 10 years ago when an inventor proposed to solve the third-world’s lack of surgical access. His idea was essentially a laparoscopic tool with a camcorder stuck to the top. (Think of the ill-fated Flip Camera, which was THE go-go gadget for about 20 minutes in 2009.)

The laparoscopic invention was probably unworkable and impractical only because the idea was too advanced for the time.

Then smartphones and the iPad happened.

Now the portable laparoscope is not only entirely possible and actually feasible, it is also, dare we say, likely.

Portable Laparoscope inventor Chandrakanth Are, M.D., (right) chats with Rich Abraham of Vention Medical during a recent partnering event hosted by UNeMed earlier this year.

It might actually bring minimally invasive surgery to places where such lavish, first-world luxuries were but a dream only five years ago.

Even as the portable laparoscope relied on external technologies, most of the innovations UNeMed sees will need to run grueling marathons.

One marathon began as an unnamed discovery back in 1993. (Founded in 1991, UNeMed still had that new tech transfer office smell.)

Years later, we came to know the discovery as a synthetic peptide called EP67, and marveled at its ability to stimulate the human immune response to any number of things. Primarily, it showed promise as a way to produce vaccines for everything from the common flu to even chemical dependency.

Later, it proved to be a potent immune stimulant all by itself. The technology continued to grow and evolve as the inventor, Sam Sanderson, Ph.D., continued tinkering with different formulations.

Different approaches.

Different applications.

Sound familiar?

A startup company, Prommune was born from the work in the early 2000s.

A nanoformulation of the technology followed.

Then a handful of analog formulations.

And most recently, a little more than a year ago, Sanderson and Prommune were awarded about $4 million in federal grants to examine EP67’s use against dangerous infections, including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

What began in 1993 was little more than an intriguing discovery with a lot of promise and hope. Just as Edison’s light bulb bears little resemblance to modern light fixtures, so too does Dr. Sanderson’s EP67 from his first discovery 25 years ago.

A lot of blood, sweat, and too many tears have passed under the bridge since then. The inventor, Dr. Sanderson, unexpectedly passed away in August.

But Prommune and EP67—and the portable laparoscope and heaps of others—live on.

And so continues the hard work of lighting the way to better health.

Late UNMC researcher Sam Sanderson, Ph.D., seen here during a quality control test in his Omaha lab in 2015.

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Panel, workshop highlight Day 2

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OMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 24, 2017)—Innovation Week continued Tuesday with two educational events that looked into intellectual property issues associated with genome editing and a workshop on performing patent searches.

Channabasavaiah Gurumurthy, Ph.D., talks about the future of genome editing and the CRISPR/Cas9 tool during a panel discussion Tuesday at UNMC.

The day began with a panel discussion about the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing tool. UNMC researcher Channabasavaiah Gurumurthy, Ph.D., and patent attorney Bill Adolfsen, Ph.D., discussed potential intellectual property issues related to discoveries and innovations resulting from the CRISPR technology. They talked about how rapidly the field of gene editing has grown in just the last five years, and how much more it might evolve in the future.

Dr. Gurumurthy, the Director of the UNMC Mouse Genome Engineering Core Facility, is a co-inventor of Easi-CRISPR, a new technology that complements CRISPR’s ground-breaking ability to snip DNA. Easi-CRISPR is a proprietary protocol that allows for the easy insertion of new material into the genetic code.

Bill Adolfsen, Ph.D., is seen here during the panel discussion Tuesday at UNMC.

Dr. Adolfsen is a registered patent attorney and an associate at Andrus Intellectual Property Law.

Following the panel discussion, UNeMed’s Director of Intellectual Property, Jason Nickla, J.D., led a workshop to help researchers perform their own patent searches.

UNeMed offered the workshop because industry researchers don’t often publish their results in academic and scientific journals. Instead, they first publish in the form of patent applications, which won’t show up in PubMed or other academic searches.

Nickla showed attendees how hunt through various patent databases and ensure that research projects aren’t merely duplicative of previous work. He also taught specific techniques that patent examiners use to focus search hits on relevant patents.

Both events were held at the Yanney Conference Center, located on the ground floor of the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. On Monday, UNeMed hosted a Kickoff event where staffers gave away free T-shirts, first-aid kits and other goodies.

UNMC researcher Joshua Souchek (left), Ph.D., works with UNeMed’s Director of Intellectual Property, Jason Nickla, J.D., during a patent searching workshop on Oct. 24, 2017.

Three events remain for Innovation Week, including a luncheon this afternoon that celebrates Nebraska women in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math. The luncheon begins at noon at the Quarry Oaks Golf Club in Ashland, Neb.

On Thursday, Oct. 26, UNeMed will host the Research Innovation Awards Banquet in the Truhlsen Campus Events Center, located in the Michal F. Sorrell Center on the corner of 42nd and Emile Streets. The awards recognize inventive faculty, students and staff at UNO and UNMC, rewarding the achievements of those who submitted a new invention, received a U.S. patent or licensed a technology during the previous fiscal year.

A key note address will be delivered by James Linder, M.D., president of the University Technology Development Corporation and Chief Strategist for University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds. In 2014, Dr. Linder served as interim president of the University.

UNMC and UNO Chancellor Jeffrey Gold, M.D., is also expected to be on hand to present awards to inventors, including the 2017 Emerging Inventor of the year and the 2017 Most Promising New Invention.

The Awards Banquet begins at 5 p.m. and is invitation-only. Contact UNeMed to request an invitation.

Innovation Week wraps up Friday, Oct. 27, in the Yanney Conference Center at 11:30 a.m. when UNeMed hosts a panel discussion about alternate career paths for research scientists in biomedical fields.

UNeMed opened 2017 Innovation Week with its annual Kick-Off event on Monday, Oct. 23.

Panelists will include former research scientists who now work in a range of science-related fields. They are expected to discuss their personal journeys as biomedical scientists, how they arrived in their present occupations, and offer advice to others who may be interested in a science career away from the research bench.

The panelists are Amanda Hawley, Ph.D., Brandon Hillman, Ph.D., Agnes Lenagh, Ph.D., and Gary Madsen, Ph.D.

The first 50 guests will receive a free lunch, and other freebies will be given away to those who ask questions and engage the panel in a meaningful way.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

 

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How we can we help: Patent searches

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office issues patents when an invention is novel, non-obvious and useful. Though these seem like straightforward requirements, a lot of work behind the scenes ensures inventions meet those criteria.

What do scientists do when they get a new idea or direction to pursue in their laboratories? They get on their computers and scour PubMed. They read, learn and comprehend the research already published. They begin to find unanswered questions.

The same line of thought goes into writing a grant proposal.

But there is one gaping hole: Many scientists fail to perform the same diligent search through existing patents or patent applications. In turn, the oversight prevents scientists from engaging in projects that are truly ground-breaking. Patent searches would help researchers find new, untapped ground.

Patent searches are part of the evaluation process at UNeMed. A member of the licensing team conducts this search to look for preexisting patents or related patent applications. If they can’t find anything, the patent potential increases.

At UNeMed, we hope to educate UNMC scientists on how to prevent duplicative research when preparing a commercialization plan in a grant. As part of our Innovation Week, UNeMed’s Director of Intellectual Property, Jason Nickla, J.D., will lead a hands-on workshop on how to run patent or patent searches. This workshop will answer some of these questions:

  • How do patent searches help your research?
  • What are the tools and databases to perform patent searches?
  • When is the right time for you to perform patent searches?

At our recently concluded Tech Transfer Boot Camp, a doctoral student said that she never knew about patent searches. Patent searches, she said, would change the way she approached new ideas and experiments in her young career.

The workshop is planned for today in the Yanney Conference Center, which is located on the ground floor of the Buffet Cancer Center. The two-hour workshop begins at 3 p.m., and is free and open to all. A light snack and refreshments will be provided. Guests are invited to bring their own laptops to practice patent searches.

This is part of a series of blog posts covering the many services UNeMed provides for faculty, students and staff at UNMC and UNO. Come for our next installment on Inventions. Here’s the full list of planned future topics:

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How can we help you?

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A few weeks ago, walking through the Sorrel Center, someone called my name. A was perfect stranger was waving his hand at me, asking if I worked at UNeMed. Then he said something that stuck with me: “Ah, UNeMed, you guys are the patent people.”

But we are so much more!

As UNMC’s chancellor, Dr. Jeffery Gold, has said on several occasions, research doesn’t end after publishing a paper in an academic journal or when a grant expires. Research is done when human life is changed.
At UNeMed, we want to come along the UNMC community and convert ideas, discoveries and inventions into viable products.

Over the next several weeks, we will publish a series of blog posts that will enumerate the many ways UNeMed can help inventive UNMC and UNO faculty, students and staff. These posts will illuminate the different services provided by UNeMed and explain how we can partner with researchers, clinicians and students to improve research commercialization and patentability at the University of Nebraska.

Upcoming posts will cover:

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Workshop today will instruct patent searching

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OMAHA, Neb. (Oct.24, 2017)—Innovation Week continues today with a two-hour workshop that will teach attendees how to perform their own patent searches, an important early step of innovative research.

Academic researchers commonly review journal articles in resources like PubMed as a way to keep abreast of scientific advances. But industry researchers don’t often publish their results in academic and scientific journals. Instead, they first publish in the form of patent applications, which won’t show up in PubMed or other academic searches.

Led by UNeMed’s Director of Intellectual Property, Jason Nickla, J.D.., the Patent Searching Workshop will show attendees how hunt through patent databases and ensure that research projects aren’t merely duplicative of previous work.

Attendees will also learn specific techniques employed by patent examiners to focus search hits on relevant patents.

The workshop is set to begin at 3 p.m. in the Yanney Conference Center, located on the ground floor of the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. A light snack and beverages will be provided.

The workshop is part of Innovation Week, a series of events hosted by UNeMed Corporation as a celebration of the innovation and discovery that happens every year at UNMC.

Also today, UNeMed will host a panel discussion entitled “Owning CRISPR” at 1:30 p.m., also in the Yanney Conference Room.

On Thursday, UNeMed will host the 2017 Research Innovation Awards Banquet in the Truhslen Campus Events Center in the Michael F. Sorrell Center at 5 p.m. Contact UNeMed to request an invitation.

Innovation Week wraps up on Friday, Oct. 27, with another panel discussion, this one about alternate career options for scientists.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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Panel will discuss the CRISPR gene editing tool

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OMAHA, Neb. (Oct.24, 2017)—Innovation Week continues today with a panel discussion about the biomedical applications and implications of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool.

Panelists will include UNMC researcher Channabasavaiah Gurumurthy, Ph.D., and patent attorney Bill Adolfsen, Ph.D. They are expected to discuss potential intellectual property issues related to discoveries and innovations resulting from the CRISPR technology.

The CRISPR event is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Yanney Conference Center located on the ground floor of the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

Dr. Gurumurthy

Dr. Adolfsen

Dr. Gurumurthy is the Director of the UNMC Mouse Genome Engineering Core Facility, and also carries an Executive MBA degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Most recently, he is a co-inventor of Easi-CRISPR, a new technology that complements CRISPR’s ground-breaking ability to snip DNA. Easi-CRISPR is a proprietary protocol that allow for the easy insertion of new material into the genetic code.

Dr. Adolfsen is a registered patent attorney and associate at Andrus Intellectual Property Law.  He focuses his practice on domestic and international patent prosecution, strategic patent portfolio development, post-grant proceedings, and enforcement.  He also provides counseling related to patentability, freedom-to-operate, non-infringement, and patent validity. He received his doctorate in molecular biology from MIT in 2005, and a juris doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2013.

The panel discussion is part of Innovation Week, a series of events hosted by UNeMed Corporation as a celebration of the innovation and discovery that happens every year at UNMC.

Also today, UNeMed will host a Patent Searching Workshop at 3-5 p.m. in the Yanney Conference Room.

On Thursday, UNeMed will host the 2017 Research Innovation Awards Banquet in the Truhslen Campus Events Center in the Michael F. Sorrell Center at 5 p.m. Contact UNeMed to request an invitation.

Innovation Week wraps up on Friday, Oct. 27, with another panel discussion, this one about alternate career options for scientists.

Learn more about all Innovation Week events at http://www.unemed.com/innovation-week.

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