The Edison Biotechnology Institute (EBI), established in 1984, is both an interdisciplinary biomedical research institute of Ohio University and an economic development organization dedicated to assisting bioscience companies and entrepreneurs in southeastern Ohio. EBI is one of the nation’s few research entities established in a university setting that includes technology development and commercialization as well as business assistance as part of its mission.
The technology upon which the institute was founded— the microinjection of exogenous genes into laboratory mice, resulting in the production of transgenic animals—was pioneered in the early 1980s by an Ohio University research team led by Thomas Wagner. This team made worldwide headlines in 1981 by successfully producing the first ever animal expressing a transgene.
The Ohio University Board of Trustees established us as an institute in 1984. Our organization was founded as one of the six original technology centers funded through the Ohio Department of Development's Thomas Edison Program, a nationally recognized program promoting technology based economic development. EBI continues its affiliation with this program as a part of the Edison Incubator Program and as a regional affiliate of BioOhio.
In 1987, senior scientist John Kopchick, nationally known for his study of growth hormone genes and growth biology, and graduate student Wen Chen developed growth hormone antagonist technology that was licensed to a start-up company, Sensus. Successful clinical trials were followed by acquisition of Sensus by Pharmacia and then Pfizer. The antagonist technology was approved for use as a treatment for acromegaly in 2003, and Ohio University began receiving royalties later that year. To date, SOMAVERT® royalty payments to Ohio University and its inventors is approximately $100 million. EBI is the top source of the university’s licensing revenue.