Georgetown Honors Innovation at Patent Award Ceremony

Posted in GUMC Stories

FEBRUARY 20, 2015—Recognizing the importance of accelerating discoveries so they have the most impact on society, Georgetown celebrated outstanding faculty accomplishments in technology transfer and commercialization at a recent event.

Joining colleagues from across campus, Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) researchers figured prominently in the Feb. 10 ceremony, “Advancing University Innovations to Market: Roles of IP, Research Collaborations and Financing.” The event was organized by the Office of Technology Commercialization at Georgetown to commemorate achievement over the past two years.

Leveraging Innovation

While research for research’s sake is important, it doesn’t stop there.

“We have to make an impact from that knowledge,” said Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD , executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the School of Medicine at GUMC.

“Commercialization is so vital. And the more that we as a culture develop a sense that this is what we must do, we come back to one of the reasons why we are at this university. We want to do more—we want to do more for society,” he added.

Federoff, a neurologist and neuroscientist who specializes in Alzheimer’s research, was among those honored at the ceremony for outstanding contribution to innovation and commercialization.

Other honorees in this category were Spiros Dimolitsas, PhD , Georgetown’s senior vice president for research and chief technology officer, Charbel Moussa, MBBS, PhD , assistant professor of neuroscience at GUMC, and Jennifer Ng, PhD , research professor of pediatrics at GUMC.

The patent award ceremony also recognized U.S. patent awardees at Georgetown, including many from GUMC, and three guest speakers lent their perspectives on university innovation, pharma-academic collaborations and private financing of academic discoveries.

Claudia Cherney Stewart, PhD , Georgetown’s vice president for technology commercialization, said faculty participation is the key component to moving a discovery through the technology transfer process.

“The inventors stay involved and often help market the technology,” she said.

Measuring Impact

Stewart noted that, over the past two years, the Office of Technology Commercialization has filed 76 U.S. patent applications on behalf of Georgetown faculty, in addition to provisional and international patent applications.

“We have had 36 patents issued, and we licensed or optioned more than two dozen technologies to companies,” she said.

Stewart relayed some success stories, including an option agreement with Amarantus BioScience Holdings, Inc.

Amarantus, a biotechnology company focused on developing novel tests in neurology, announced the agreement with Georgetown last month related to an Alzheimer’s blood test developed by Federoff and his collaborators.

Additionally, a startup company called Propagenix licensed cell immortalization technology developed by Richard Schlegel, MD, PhD , chair of the department of pathology and director of GUMC’s Center for Cell Reprogramming .

Stewart said that another company that licensed Georgetown technology, Frantz Viral Therapeutics, has started recruiting for a U.S. clinical trial to test a treatment for precancerous cervical dysplasia associated with human papillomavirus. The technology, invented by Schlegel and Dan Hartmann, PhD , professor in the department of pathology, relates to use of the well-known anti-malarial drug Artemisinin for treatment of HPV-induced infections.

In addition to the patent awards, four Georgetown researchers—two from GUMC—were announced as the 2015 inductees to the National Academy of Inventors: Stephen Byers, PhD , professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center; Harry G. Preuss, MD , professor of biochemistry and molecular & cellular biology; Edward Van Keuren, PhD , professor of physics; and Heidi Elmendorf, PhD , professor of biology.

By Lauren Wolkoff
GUMC Communications