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OHSU Innovation and Technology Transfer Activities Up in a Down Year

This October, during its annual Technology Innovation Awards ceremony, Oregon Health & Science University will honor more than 100 OHSU researchers who have had a discovery licensed, a patent issued, or an invention that led to the creation of a startup company during fiscal year 2010. Despite the challenging economic climate, the OHSU technology transfer metrics demonstrate continued progress. One highlight of the upcoming event is the presentation of awards for the 21 patents issued during the course of the year.

"We are starting to see the payoff from growth of research as a result of faculty who were either recruited or retained through the Oregon Opportunity," said Tim Stout, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., OHSU vice president for technology transfer and business development. "This has allowed us to create a focal point for health care and life science research in Oregon," he added, noting that OHSU processed nearly 550 tech transfer agreements during fiscal year 2010, averaging 1.5 transactions per day.

The breakthroughs reflected in these numbers have added to OHSU's intellectual capital, which is the foundation for research collaborations, licensing opportunities and biomedical startup companies and, ultimately, the development of new medical therapies, pharmaceuticals and devices. OHSU is diligently translating discoveries, wherever possible, into commercial applications.

Included in the fiscal year numbers are three new startup companies based on OHSU research, an accolade for the university given the reduction in early-stage investment funding during the past year. These companies pushed the total number of startups to more than 70 since the early 1970s. In the past five years, an average of nearly four startup companies per year has developed out of OHSU research. Nearly 80 percent of the companies that emerged during that time currently operate in Oregon, bringing new discoveries to market and contributing to the region's economic development.

The three new OHSU startups are:

  • Gamma Therapeutics – a biopharmaceutical company founded by David Farrell, Ph.D., a professor of pathology at OHSU. The company is focused on the development of diagnostics and drugs for the treatment of heart attacks. Gamma Therapeutics was also a finalist in the seed stage at this year's Angel Oregon investment competition and received more than $1.5 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 
  • Aronora – a biotech company established for the commercialization of proprietary anticoagulant (blood thinning) products that do not cause bleeding and can be safely used in hard-to-treat blood clot diseases, such as ischemic stroke and heart attack, or those associated with severe infections. Their product pipeline includes two novel drug candidates, WE-thrombin for the treatment of ischemic stroke and heart attack and AXIMAB, a monoclonal antibody developed for the treatment of thrombosis. Funded by both the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Aronora is the recipient of nearly $1.3 million in SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) funds for fiscal year 2010. 
  • Odyssey Science Innovations – a sports medicine company focused on the health and well-being of male and female adolescent athletes through its series of educational programs, ATLAS and ATHENA. ATLAS (Athletes Training & Learning to Avoid Steroids) targets male adolescent athletes' use of anabolic steroids, alcohol and other drugs, and use of sport supplements while improving healthy nutrition and exercise practices. ATHENA (Athletes Targeting Healthy Exercise & Nutrition Alternatives) is a school-based team -centered prevention program for female athletes on middle and high school sports, dance and cheerleading teams. A Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awardee, Odyssey received over $150,000 in funding from the NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
All three startup companies have received NIH-funded SBIR or STTR funding in fiscal year 2010, with total awards reaching more than $3 million. "This achievement is a first for the university," said Kristin Rencher, M.B.A., R.T.T.P., director of technology development, "and demonstrates the value of OHSU's Innovation and Seed Fund, a gap fund that identifies technologies and research with strong commercial potential and provides financial support to move those projects to the next level."
Other key measures of OHSU's progress in moving discoveries toward commercialization during the last fiscal year:
  • Twenty-one U.S. patents were issued to OHSU innovators, for a total of more than 80 in the last five years.
  • Ninety-three U.S. patent applications were filed.
  • Invention disclosures for the fiscal year totaled 115. Invention disclosures over the last five years total over 600.
  • Eighty-seven industry-sponsored research agreements, totaling $7.3 million in awards. 
  • Thirty-four commercialization agreements, which cover development of products based on intellectual property developed and owned by OHSU.
  • The university's income for the fiscal year from commercialization agreements was $1.2 million.
  • A total of 340 material transfer agreements (MTAs) were completed. MTAs are short-term contracts governing the exchange of research materials — ranging from cell lines, cultures and proteins to pharmaceuticals, reagents, software and data — with corporate researchers or researchers at other nonprofit institutions. More than 1,800 MTAs were completed in the last five years.
  • Sixty-nine non-disclosure, or confidentiality agreements, were signed in the fiscal year. Nondisclosure agreements govern how recipients, generally businesses, can use proprietary information provided by an OHSU researcher to protect patent rights.Steady increases in nondisclosure agreements reflect the open and collaborative nature of OHSU faculty in working with colleagues in industry as well as other academic institutions.

The fiscal year 2010 data was compiled by the OHSU Office of Technology Transfer and Business Development. TTBD supports the university's research community by collaborating with industry to facilitate research, license promising discoveries and create new companies.

About OHSU
Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only health and research university, and its only academic health center. It is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), with more than 13,000 employees. A leader in research, OHSU earned $392 million in research funding in fiscal year 2010. OHSU serves as a catalyst for the region's bioscience industry and is an incubator of discovery, averaging one new breakthrough or innovation every 3 days, with more than 3,500 research projects currently under way. OHSU disclosed 115 inventions in 2010 alone, and OHSU research has resulted over 40 startup companies since 2000, most of which are based in Oregon.

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