RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Young life-science companies, researchers and educators received $3.96 million in loans and grants from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center during the first quarter of this year.
The awards, in eight programs, went to successful applicants across the state to support life-science entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and education.
These funding activities have proven essential since NCBiotech was established in 1984 for growing the nation’s third-largest biotech cluster. Biotechnology companies number more than 500 with 58,000 employees and an average salary of more than $78,000.
The first-quarter loans and grants from NCBiotech are:
$249,048 for a Small Business Research Loan
NCBiotech approved the loan for CivaTech Oncology, a Research Triangle Park company, to help in commercial development of its radiotherapy products for localized tumor treatment.
$60,000 for Company Inception Loans
There were two $30,000 Company Inception Loans: one to Raleigh startup Novametics, and the other to Cell Microsystems of Chapel Hill.
Novametics is developing a system for testing blood coagulation and Cell Microsystems is developing a lab tool for sorting and separating cells.
$50,000 for a Technology Enhancement Grant
This grant was issued to Henry Berger, Ph.D., of Duke University’s Office of Licensing and Ventures, to demonstrate the commercial viability of a novel surface coating for research and diagnostic tests invented by Ashutosh Chilkoti, Ph.D. Chilkoti is a professor and director of graduate studies in Duke’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, and directs the Center for Biologically Inspired Materials and Materials Systems.
$141,514 for Summer Biotechnology Workshops for Educators
Seven teacher workshops received NCBiotech underwriting this year. The workshops are to be held this summer in Asheville, Boone, Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh and Wilmington. NCBiotech has sponsored nearly 150 of these programs since 1987. More than 1,800 educators used these lessons to enliven biotech classes for more than 600,000 North Carolina middle school, high school and community college students.
$1,528,372 in Institutional Development Grants
- Appalachian State University – Libby Puckett, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the university’s forensic science program, got $97,588 to buy instrumentation to be shared with colleagues in other labs.
- Duke University
- Yutao Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical genetics, got $101,000 to buy a DNA sequencer.
- Sina Farsiu, Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering, got $200,000 to buy equipment for ultra-high-resolution eye research.
- East Carolina University – John Sutherland, Ph.D., professor and chair of physics, got $54,019 to buy equipment to help identify proteins and other molecules.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Stephen Frye, Ph.D., director of the Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, got $200,000 to buy a robotic sample processor.
- Nancy Fisher, Ph.D., director of the Flow Cytometry Facility and professor of microbiology and immunology, got $136,000 to buy equipment to advance the university’s microparticle research.
- Angela Kashuba, Pharm.D., associate professor and director of the Center for AIDS Research, clinical pharmacology/analytical chemistry core, got $200,000 to buy equipment to help conduct pharmacology studies on HIV treatment and prevention.
- Richard Superfine, Ph.D., adjunct professor of biomedical engineering and Taylor-Williams Distinguished Professor of Physics & Astronomy, got $165,473 to buy equipment to manipulate nano particles for biomedical research and development.
- Wake Forest University – Todd Lowther, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry, got $199,720 to buy X-ray crystallography equipment to enhance research programs on the campus.
- Western Carolina University – Mark Wilson, Ph.D., director of the university’s forensic science program, got $174,572 to buy a genetic analyzer needed to help establish a DNA sequencing core facility at the campus.
$481,982 in Educational Enhancement Grants
Awards went to 11 different educational institutions around the state. Grants include:
- Appalachian State University – Seth Cohen, Ph.D., director of the ASU Enology Program, and assistant chemistry professor Brett Taubman, Ph.D., received $60,800 to develop what will become two core courses of the university’s new fermentation science program: Principles of Fermentation Sciences and Facility Design and Operation. The program will train students for work in North Carolina’s brewing and wine industries.
- Campbell University – Daniel Shin, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutical sciences and analytical chemistry, received $58,880 to buy bioanalytical equipment, known as ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography, to use in the lab portions of four courses.
- Duke University – Mohamed Noor, Ph.D., professor and associate chair of biology, received $4,167 for a computer database to provide students with an exercise in molecular evolution.
- Elizabeth City State University – Dolapo Adedeji, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacy, received $5,000 for professional and curriculum development.
- Pitt Community College – Olga Paine, chemistry instructor, got $19,137 to enhance a biotechnology course by including hands-on training techniques and adding equipment used at local companies.
- North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research – Suzanne Wilkison, president, got $72,820 to expand the association’s K-12 curriculum, “Rx for Science Literacy.”
- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences – Christy Flint, project manager, investigate lab programs, and Kimberly Kandros, chief development officer of the Friends of the Museum, got $40,720 to buy microscopes for use in the new genomics and microbiology “Investigate Lab” at the Nature Research Center.
- North Carolina State University – Ghada Rabah, Ph.D., lecturer in general and analytical chemistry, got $68,339 to develop bioanalytical experiments for undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry labs, aimed at closing the gap between academic chemistry labs and the biotech industry.
- UNC Asheville – Assistant professor Jennifer Rhode Ward, Ph.D., and associate professor Jonathan Horton, Ph.D., received $30,808 to incorporate biotechnology into the undergraduate plant sciences curriculum.
- UNC Charlotte – Jennifer Weller, Ph.D., associate professor of bioinformatics, received $58,670 to expand genomic technologies in her bioinformatics courses.
- UNC Pembroke – Rachel Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, and Cornelia Tirla, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry and physics, received $62,641 to redesign the university’s Organic Chemistry I and II lab courses with new equipment that will permit more hands-on teaching.
$250,000 for a Multidisciplinary Research Grant
Duke University’s Lingchong You, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering, received the grant to support collaborative work with scientists in other disciplines to better understand cell division and related cellular activities.
$580,000 in Phase II ibiliti Center of Innovation funding
The COI renewal funding to ibiliti is the most recent milestone payment from a $2.5 million fund that helps support Centers of Innovation for up to four years, while they establish sources of self-funding.
$34,450 for Undergraduate Biotechnology Research Fellowships
Seven Undergraduate Research Fellowships were awarded to students at five institutions. All grants were $5,000 except for a $4,450 award to a Meredith College project. The students, and their mentors responsible for the fellowships include:
- Tyler Foley, Appalachian State University, working under the supervision of Brooke Hester, Ph.D., in the university’s optical tweezers laboratory.
- Joshua Wheaton, UNC Charlotte, under the supervision of Mark Clemmons, Ph.D., founder and CSO of Hepatosys Inc., to recover hepatocytes from livers that are donated after the patients’ hearts stopped beating. Hepatosys is a start-up company focused on new methodology for preserving and rejuvenating livers for transplant.
- Gregory Swan, Davidson College, working under the supervision of Sophia Sarafova, Ph.D., traveling to Duke University to participate in the Duke-Davidson Immunology Partnership.
- Jacqueline Bailey, Meredith College, working under the supervision of Cynthia Edwards, Ph.D., to develop a bioassay for JustNeem, a startup company that produces a natural mosquito repellent.
- Hemant Desai, NC State, working under the supervision of Gavin Williams, Ph.D., to develop an ultra-high-throughput screening test using microfluidics and flow cytometry.
- Kevin Kearney, also at NC State, working under the supervision of Gerald LeBlanc, Ph.D., to develop biotech tools to assess reproductive health of blue crabs.
- Rachel Turner, also at NC State, working under the supervision of Amy Grunden, Ph.D., to study of algae for producing biofuels.