We've heard for a while now about the aggressive, determined way Utah is working to grow its biotech economy, particularly through advancing university research and commercializing the technology that comes out of it. Since getting private capital interested in university science invention is a major step in making that commercialization happen, the University of Utah Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) has come up with an innovative arena for matching inventors with backers, and it looks a lot like...speed dating. They call it science "speed teching," and the first University Innovators Speed Teching Showcase event took place May 22nd in a large conference room at Salt Lake City's Zions Bank.
Science Market Update
Sometimes sacrifices have to be made in the name of progress. In the case of Utah's just-opened USTAR collaborative research building on the Salt Lake City campus of the University of Utah, no one seems to be lamenting the loss of a golf course that used to lie between the Medical School and an engineering complex. Not when the new 208,000sf, $130M, state-of-the-art Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building is there instead, with all of its bright and shiny promise to drive innovation and economic development in the Beehive State.
Last year in a blog of ours on the future of genome sequencing we referenced a July appeals court ruling that protected Utah's Myriad Genetics' patent on two genes known to be indicators of breast cancer risk. Now, in a recent Supreme Court ruling on that same case, the previous ruling has been overturned and the case returned to the lower court for rehearing. This decision follows another important high court ruling on the patentability of genes: Mayo vs. Prometheus Labs (San Diego), which also just ruled against a company's right to hold patents on human genes, and which was quoted as a precedent in the latest Myriad judgement.
On October 21, President Obama presented the National Medal of Science awards to the 2011 recipients in a ceremony at the White House. The award program is administered for the White House by the NSF to recognize individuals who have made outstanding lifetime contributions to science and engineering.
A Utah State University researcher has genetically modified goats to produce spider silk. Or he almost has. The goats carry two proteins that allow spiders to weave their silk. The proteins, injected into embryos, come out in the goats' milk.
Since the approval of the President's Universal Heathcare Measure, researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US Dept. of Health) have been tasked not only with the challenge of clarifying the options of the proposed socialized medicine program, but with marketing health itself. If healthcare is going to be funded from the public coffer, it follows that the public has a certain responsibility not to abuse that privilege with unhealthy behaviors. Put another way, good health is the right thing to do. But how do you convince people of that? A business and healthcare administration professor at the University of Utah Eccles School of Business, Debra Scammon, concludes in a recent paper in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing titled "Transforming Consumer Health" that the answer is a strong social marketing campaign.
In 1995 Utah chemical industrialist Jon Huntsman donated $151M—$100M directly from family funds—to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City to create a top-notch cancer center bearing his family's name: The Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). Further contributions over the years brought Huntsman support to $300M. Now the family has made another gift to the Center in the amount of $41M, which HCI says will be used to hire more researchers and acquire new treatment technology.
New Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City: due to open in 2012.