Dec. 17, 2007
By George Mauzy | Photos by Rick Fatica
Some of Ohio University's finest biotech research was on display Thursday during an event aimed at raising the visibility of the university and southeast Ohio on the pharmaceutical industry landscape.
The Bio-Enterprise Showcase, held at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, was co-sponsored by Athens-based companies Athenian Venture Partners and Diagnostic Hybrids. It highlighted various Edison Biotechnology Institute projects and gave researchers the opportunity to hear feedback from venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
About 50 people witnessed three research presentations and took part in a candid discussion about the most effective ways to commercialize biotechnology.
"Today was a chance for these selected researchers to present their technology in front of venture capitalists," said Dave Scholl, president and CEO of Athens' Diagnostic Hybrids. "Only through our collective support of their efforts will we be able to build a vibrant, technology-based entrepreneurial economy … that makes (Athens) a destination location for investors from coast to coast."
Karl Elderkin and Daniel Kosoy of Athenian Venture Partners and Kevin Aspegren, manager of consulting services for the Voinovich School's Business Development Group, facilitated the discussion.
Elderkin told the audience that recent news that Ohio University had the highest licensing income in the state for public colleges and universities in 2006 proves that great research is already happening in Athens.
Aspegren added that the university will continue to improve its ability to serve as a resource for researchers. "The infrastructure is in place for technical and operational assistance," he said. "The companies that presented their research today now know that there are resources close by that they can go to for support."
Goll-Ohio Professor of Microbiology John Kopchick shared the success story of Somavert, his human growth antagonist drug marketed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The drug, which treats the disease acromegaly, is projected to bring the university more than $5 million in royalties this year.
Kopchick's newest company, DiAthegen, is working on a long-acting growth hormone antagonist that would replace Somavert in 2012, when its patent expires. "Our main goal is for DiAthegen to one day become a billion-dollar company and remain in Athens," he said.
Also making presentations were Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences Xiao Chen, who is working on a drug that could one day replace insulin as a treatment for diabetes; and Distinguished Research Scientist Leonard Kohn, whose research involves a better way to treat pancreatic cancer.
Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis said he is excited about the possibilities that biotech research spawns.
"Today's showcase illustrates our support for fostering bio-enterprises," McDavis said. "Our ability to support them is possible because of the significant role that all of our key constituents have played. I'm confident that our ability to synergize university research and development with entrepreneurialism will continue to increase economic development in our region."