UT Research Foundation Distributes Funds to Drive Further Development of Technologies

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) has selected 10 UT researchers or research teams to receive technology development grants for 2008. Grant funds will allow researchers to further develop or “mature” their technologies so that they are better positioned for licensing and commercialization.

Researchers were invited to propose further work on inventions and discoveries that had been previously disclosed to UT and assigned to UTRF or to bring new disclosures with a development plan. Forty-two proposals were received from the four campuses and three institutes that make up the University of Tennessee.

The high quality of the proposals attracted the attention of campus and institute research officers, some of whom opted to allocate additional funds for the UTRF award pool. The 10 awards totaled $165,000 and included a $15,000 matching grant from Nashville-based Cumberland Emerging Technologies for one of the proposals.

“This program is another initiative that supports the commitment of the University of Tennessee to become one of the premier research institutions in the country, as well as its commitment to drive technology-based economic development for the state of Tennessee,” said Fred Tompkins, president of UTRF. “Our mission at UTRF is to support the research enterprise, then find ways to take research results and turn them into economic benefits for the university and our society. Teaming with the university research offices has allowed us to invest in more technologies than we could have done by ourselves.”

UTRF used a panel of subject matter and technology commercialization experts from across the state to evaluate both the technology and the development plan proposed by each researcher. UTRF also solicited advice from Technology 2020 and Memphis Bioworks Foundation, economic development organizations engaged by UTRF to assist with technology commercialization.

The following were selected for funding:

– David C. Baker, Chemistry, UT Knoxville, for work on an anti-tumor agent;
– John Biggerstaff, Center for Environmental Biotechnology, UT Knoxville, for work on technology to slow or prevent cancer metastasis;
– Antonin Bukovsky and Michael Caudle, Obstetrics and Gynecology, UT Health Science Center Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville, for work on improved fertility technology;
– Shigetoshi Eda, Cathy Scott and Steve Oliver, Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries and Animal Sciences, UT Institute of Agriculture, Knoxville, for work on a diagnostic test for bacterial infections;
– Julian Hurdle and Richard Lee, Pharmaceutical Science, UT Health Science Center, Memphis, for work on a topical antibiotic for drug-resistant bacteria;
– Juan Jurat-Fuentes, Entomology and Plant Pathology, UT Institute of Agriculture, Knoxville, for work on a new bio-pesticide;
– Dhukee Betty Lew, Pediatrics, UT Health Science Center, Memphis, for work on asthma treatment and prevention;
– Linda Myers, Arnold Postlethwaite and Andrew Kang, Pediatrics and Rheumatology, UT Health Science Center, Memphis, for work on a rheumatoid arthritis treatment;
– Steve Oliver, Animal Sciences, UT Institute of Agriculture, Knoxville, for work on a vaccine to prevent mastitis in dairy cows; and
– Yunzhi Yang, Biomedical Engineering, UT Health Science Center, Memphis, for work on bone healing/regeneration technology.

“We were pleased with the submissions, and were happy to join with UTRF to support research that accelerates the transformation of new knowledge into valuable products and services,” said Tom Klindt, interim dean of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, one of the contributors to the expanded funding pool. “These joint efforts are at the heart of UT’s land-grant mission.”

Upon completion of the development work, UTRF will receive a report from the researchers describing the new knowledge gained and improvements made in the subject technology. These results are expected to allow UTRF to better position the technologies for licensing to either an existing company or a new start-up entity.


Contacts:

John Hopkins (Knoxville), jhop@utk.edu, 865-974-1882
Richard Magid (Memphis), rmagid1@utmem.edu, 901-448-1562
Joy Fisher (Knoxville), joy.fisher@tennessee.edu, 865-974-1882