Boulder (August 20, 2009). The University of Colorado has selected 11 projects for funding under a 2008 legislative initiative to increase the commercial potential of bioscience technologies from Colorado research institutions. These grants, known as ‘proof of concept’ grants, fill a crucial gap in funding between basic research funding (typically from federal agencies) and industrial commercialization of technology (funded by companies). The grants are designed to move promising new drugs, diagnostic tests and medical devices closer to commercial readiness. Under House Bill 1001, passed in 2008, the State of Colorado provided a total of $1.5 million to Colorado research institutions in 2009, matched by equal funding contributed by the universities. Grants to CU researchers (including matching grants) totaled $1.64 million; the winning grant proposals were:
• Natalie Ahn PhD, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, CU-Boulder, for targeted drugs to treat melanoma.The winning grant proposals were selected from a pool of 25 applications through a competitive internal review process, followed by approval from the State of Colorado.
• K. Ulrich Bayer PhD, Department of Pharmacology, UC Denver, for a new drug to prevent permanent neurological damage in stroke patients.
• Mark W. Duncan PhD and Anthony Elias MD, Division of Pulmonary Medicine and Division of Medical Oncology, UC Denver, for improved diagnosis and early detection of breast cancer.
• Heide L. Ford PhD and Rui Zhao PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, UC Denver, for the identification and development of novel therapeutics that may be used to treat a wide variety of cancers.
• Emily A. Gibson PhD and Timothy Lei PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Department of Electrical Engineering, UC Denver, for an improved flow cytometry device for analysis of blood samples.
• Bradley Olwin PhD, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, CU-Boulder, for a method of repairing damaged muscle (including damage from Muscular Dystrophy) using stem cells.
• Daniel Schwartz PhD, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, CU-Boulder, for liquid crystal-based DNA microarrays to cost effectively measure genetic material and quickly gather gigabases of genomic data.
• Timothy F. Scott PhD, Department of Mechanical Engineering, CU-Boulder. Photodegradable materials for temporary and minimally-invasive implantable medical devices.
• Robin Shandas PhD, Division of Cardiology, UC Denver and Department of Engineering, CU-Boulder, for a medical device to treat venous valve incompetence.
• Wei Tan PhD, Department of Mechanical Engineering, CU-Boulder, for a new type of vascular graft to provide improved access for dialysis patients.
• Linda Watkins PhD, Department of Psychology, CU-Boulder, for a novel approach to treating chronic pain and increasing the clinical efficacy of opioid pain relief drugs.
The State of Colorado conducted a pilot version of this program in 2006, funding 13 projects at the University of Colorado under a similar matching-funds process. Of these 13 grants, four of the resulting technologies have been licensed or optioned to Colorado-based companies, with advanced commercialization discussions underway with four other Colorado-based companies. “We are delighted to see these proof-of-concept research projects move forward, “said David Allen, CU’s Associate Vice President for Technology Transfer. “Many of these projects will become the basis of new Colorado companies and jobs in a few years, and medical benefits across the globe.”