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In late 2015, when asked what responsibilities universities have to the startup community, Associate Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Washington University Dedric Carter said, “I think we have to be good stewards of the fundamental knowledge we find here and be willing to work with people that want to create value from their knowledge. We started a quick-start license here, and there’s a small handful of universities that have that. Really, it’s about lowering the barriers so people can translate the work, take some of the fruits from the large research labors and turn them into practice.”
You don’t have to look far to find results proving Carter’s thesis in WashU faculty-founded startups. As St. Louis’ startup scene accelerates, it’s more likely than ever that research begun at WashU will evolve into profitable businesses. Here are six businesses founded in the last few years by WashU faculty that are growing, improving the world and finding success.
Founded In: 2012
Founders: Scott Hultgren, The Helen L Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology; Jim Janetka, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics; Dr. Thomas Hooton of the University of Miami
Fimbron Therapeutics, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that aims to treat and prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) using an innovative approach that selectively targets pathogenic bacteria rather than using antibiotics. On October 25, 2016, Fimbrion announced a joint project with the Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) team at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a science-led global healthcare company to develop the small molecule drug, known as a mannoside, to accomplish this goal.
“We are fortunate to be at an institution like Washington University, where the OTM (WashU Office of Technology Management) has been instrumental in negotiating license agreements to help us advance Fimbrion,” Dr. Hultgren said.
Founded In: 2014
Founders: Pratim Biswas, PhD, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata Professor and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering; Jiaxi Fang, PhD; Tandeep S. Chadha, PhD (in progress), Energy Environmental and Chemical Engineering
Applied Particle Technology is a provider of innovative, cost-effective air treatment and filtration systems. APT received an Arch Grants birth in June 2015 along with $50,000 in capital funding. Also that year, APT was a finalist in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Clean Energy Competition, and placed second in the WashU Olin Cup competition in 2014, winning a $50,000 opportunity investment for the company.
Founded In: 2015
Founders: Dr. Abdel Kareem Azab, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology
Cellatrix LLC is a biotechnology company focused on the development of science, research involving both basic and translational approaches and drug development for the ultimate goal of patient care.
“Cutting Edge Science: Personalized Drug Screening for Multiple Myeloma,” in the ADC: Review, the Journal of Antibody-drug Conjugates described a new test developed by Cellatrix that helps to predict the best cancer treatments for individuals. “The new test is unique in many ways. The screening method suggests which commonly prescribed multiple myeloma drug, or combination of drugs, a physician should consider first for a particular patient. In addition to suggesting the optimal drug and drug combination, the novel test also suggests the optimum dosage.”
Founded In: 2015
Founders: Drs. Alexander S. Krupnick, MD and Associate Professor of Surgery and Daved Fremont, Professor of Pathology and Immunology
Courier Therapeutics, Inc. is developing an immunotherapy technology that revolutionizes cancer therapy. It functions by activating the innate and adaptive immune system, augmenting and dramatically improving current existing immunotherapy protocols. The platform can specifically target the immune systems which activates anticancer immune cells which would otherwise be inaccessible.
Founded In: 2016
Founder: Dr. Nancy Tye-Murray, Professor of Otolaryngology and Brent Spehar, Otolaryngology Research Professor
clEAR is an acronym for “customized learning: Exercise for Aural RehabilitationTM“. clEAR, LLC uses games to teach hearing-loss patients to recognize speech and to improve hearing. In a recent article describing the program in Hearing Review, Tye-Murray wrote, “clEAR has a proprietary recording and editing system that allows the hearing care professional to use a personal computer microphone to record the voice of a patient’s frequent communication partner speaking the training stimuli.”
Founded In: 2016
Founders: Drs. William Hawkins, Neidorff Family and Robert C. Packman Professor of Surgery and Robert Mach, Britton Chance Professor of Radiology at University of Pennsylvania
With an initial focus on pancreatic cancer, Accuronix develops novel therapies that selectively target cells and deliver cytotoxic payloads, thereby increasing efficacy and reducing toxicity risk for difficult-to-treat types of cancer. Accuronix announced an initial raise of $625,000 in January of 2016, with Biogenerator and the state-funded Missouri Technology Corporation as lead investors. Dennis Schafer, President and CEO of Accuronix, told EQ in March 2016, “Our mission as a company is to develop new and effective cancer drugs. The technology we’re using to do that is a platform technology—it has the potential to be used in a number of drugs.”