State funds help accelerate campus technologies from lab to market

UW–Madison’s Discovery to Product (D2P) has granted $600,000 to six faculty-led research projects through the State Economic Engagement and Development (SEED) Program, funded by the State of Wisconsin. The SEED program funds innovative research that helps commercialize technologies developed by UW–Madison faculty and staff.

“Spinout companies associated with campus discoveries often need to perform additional research on their technology to improve its market readiness and grow the company in Wisconsin,” says D2P Director Andy Richards. “SEED funding fills that gap and can also generate additional private and public sector support for the projects.”

A major goal of the SEED program is to promote technology transfer between the university and industry. Funded research takes place on campus and helps support the efforts of UW-affiliated spinout companies to develop the technology for introduction to the marketplace .

Applications are judged on technical innovation, interest to a broad economic sector, and potential to benefit Wisconsin’s industrial and economic development in the near term.

Following is a summary of the six projects funded by the SEED program in FY2021:

David Beebe (Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine & Biomedical Engineering) will work with Salus Discovery to develop a test that helps predict the potential efficacy of immunotherapy treatments targeting solid tumors in cancer patients. The test uses cells isolated from the patient’s tumor to provide patient-specific data to help clinicians decide which patients will benefit from costly immunotherapy treatments and which will not.

Jo Handelsman (Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and Professor of Plant Pathology) will work with Wacasa on a project tackling the pressing issue of antibiotic resistance by identifying and testing molecules produced by soil microbes as potential new antibiotics. Promising candidates are identified from a large library of soil isolates collected by a worldwide network of 10,000 students each year who enroll in the research-based Tiny Earth course.

Seungpyo Hong (Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences) will work with Capio Biosciences, Inc to develop a liquid biopsy test that uses nanotechnology to detect the presence of cancer in the body through a minimally invasive blood draw. The project will validate the test’s ability to isolate, purify, and detect unique biomarkers in the blood that indicate the presence of a malignant tumor in the body.

Robert Radwin (Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering) will work with Güd Medical to fabricate and test an ergonomic syringe adapter device that prevents repetitive motion injuries in pharmacy, hospital, clinic, and research settings. Commercialization of the adapter device will facilitate more ergonomic, accurate, precise, and sterile preparation of IV compounded medicines than current methods allow.

Adel M. Talaat (Professor of Pathobiological Sciences) will work with Pan Genome Systems, Inc to create a vaccine to protect immunocompromised individuals from diseases caused by non-tuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM), a group of common bacteria that are becoming more problematic for humans. The novel vaccine will be developed and tested in mice to determine its efficacy.

Andreas Velten (Professor of Biostatics and Medical Informatics) will work with OnLume, Inc to develop imaging technology that allows for better detection of tumor margins in a surgical setting. The technology utilizes specialized lighting and a measurement technique based on the rate and timing of light absorption and emission in tumor cells that produces optimal viewing.