OU's Health & Wellness Research Income Ranks Nationally

Ohio University reported $8.2 million in income from its research technologies in fiscal year 2010, the majority of which came from licenses for health and medical advances for growth hormone and thyroid disorders.

The university received more than $8 million from the Pfizer corporation from a license for a growth hormone antagonist, discovered at the Edison Biotechnology Institute, that became the basis for the drug Somavert. The drug is used for patients with acromegaly, a form of gigantism that affects 40,000 people worldwide.

Ohio University also receives income from its license to Diagnostic Hybrids, Inc., (a Quidel company) and Interthyr for a research discovery that led to the development of Thyretain, a new test for detecting the thyroid disorder Graves’ disease in patients.

Both licenses reflect a growing focus at Ohio University on research and technologies aimed at improving health and wellness for the general public, both in the university’s home region of Appalachian Ohio and across the globe. Gov. Ted Strickland recently named Ohio University a “Center of Excellence” in the area of “Biomedicine and Health Care” for its clinical service, community outreach activities and research in cancer, growth hormone, diabetes and other autoimmune disorders.

The university’s revenue from research licenses has more than tripled in the past six years. Ohio University is the top public institution in Ohio for licensing income, and is one of the top schools in the nation for research return on investment, according to studies by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).

The university is engaged in several initiatives that strive to take more healthcare technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace. In May, Ohio University celebrated the grand opening of the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations and Charles R. and Marilyn Y. Stuckey Academic and Research Center, a facility designed to foster new partnerships between biomedical scientists and engineers in the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

Such collaborations already have yielded advancements in a new compound that may treat patients with pancreatic cancer and autoimmune disorders such as diabetes and colitis, as well as a new artificially intelligent software program designed to help doctors manage patients with type 1 diabetes.

In addition, Ohio University currently is working with companies to license technologies aimed at diabetes and cancer treatment, improvements to antibiotics and the development of a plant-based drug delivery system.

Several of the university’s healthcare discoveries – as well as the majority of the licensing income – stem from faculty in the university’s Edison Biotechnology Institute. Senior scientist John Kopchick and former graduate student Wen Chen developed the growth hormone antagonist that led to Somavert. Emeritus faculty member Leonard Kohn discovered the compound C10 and developed the thyroid test that led to Thyretain.

The Edison Biotechnology Institute works with the university’s Technology Transfer Office, Innovation Center and partners such as TechGROWTH Ohio to patent, license and find markets for these discoveries, as well as to develop spin-off companies that can improve the economic development of the southeastern Ohio region.

The Innovation Center recently received additional state funding for more equipment and laboratory support for biotechnology companies seeking to establish in Athens County. As part of its new drug discovery initiative, the small business incubator hopes to attract more start-up firms such as Interthyr and MetalloPharm, which both recently became clients of the program. The Innovation Center’s first start-up company tenant, the biotechnology firm Diagnostic Hybrids, Inc., now employs more than 220 people in Athens, Ohio, and recently was sold to the Quidel Corporation for $130 million.

In the hopes of generating more such success stories in the biotechnology field, Ohio University hosted its third annual BioVenture Showcase in June to connect Ohio’s business professionals, venture capitalists, faculty inventors and entrepreneurs.

“The university is actively developing partnerships with the business community to help commercialize our health and medical technologies,” Bose said. “We’re hoping that more people will discover our region’s biotechnology industry and the vast opportunities for growth.”

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