One of the primary goals of the Infectious Disease Supercluster at Colorado State University is to speed the transition of new diagnostic tools, vaccines and therapeutic medicines from the lab bench to the marketplace. A private enterprise affiliated with the Supercluster, and operated out of the Colorado State University Research Foundation will now help to make that goal a reality.
Earlier this year, Colorado State University announced the creation of MicroRx, a first-of-its-kind enterprise to increase the rate at which life-saving research on infectious diseases moves from the academic world into the global marketplace. MicroRx is being led by Dr. Barry Beaty, a Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, who also is director of the Infectious Disease Supercluster, which is housed in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
"I'm honored to spearhead this project of collaboration, which will deliver 'real-world' solutions based on pioneering scientific discovery," said Dr. Beaty, who will serve as the MicroRx chief scientific officer. Dr. Beaty is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is a Colorado State University Distinguished Professor in arthropod-borne infectious diseases such as West Nile virus. "We'll develop medical interventions to save and improve lives faster and with more precision to fill gaps in current medicine."
Many research universities have "technology transfer" programs, which guide scientists through the process of patenting and other complexities encountered in delivering discoveries to the global market. Colorado State's Superclusters model is unique in its multidisciplinary structure, enabling groundbreaking research to move to market more quickly by mimicking effective and efficient business practices.
"University research scientists often try to double as entrepreneurs to transfer their discoveries into useful products and medical remedies," said Larry Edward Penley, Colorado State University president and co-creator of the Superclusters model. "Our Superclusters model encourages their direct collaboration with industry experts, enabling them to focus on what they do best - innovation and research into the great global challenges - and taking advantage of the corporate drive to market for that research for the benefit of the public."
Business leaders in the biomedical field have welcomed the Superclusters model, which will streamline the process of accessing new research and technology.
"MicroRx, with Dr. Barry Beaty at its scientific helm, will speed the transfer of innovative discoveries to organizations like InViragen," said Dan Stinchcomb, InViragen's chief executive officer. "These entities will provide the expertise and resources required to develop needed products to improve global public health."
Each Supercluster, organized under a specific research area, will appoint a chief scientific officer who oversees research activities. A chief operating officer will focus on forging business alliances and developing new opportunities for the results of that research. The Supercluster's technology transfer specialist will seek opportunities for patents, licenses and startups. The team also will seek private equity investors for new business opportunities.
Colorado State's Board of Governors approved initial funding for MicroRx, and University officials anticipate growth into an annual operating budget in excess of $1 million. Revenues generated by MicroRx will come from shares of patents, licensing agreements, startup companies or other partnership arrangements that evolve from Colorado State research. The not-for-profit structure will ensure that proceeds are funneled into future research at the University.