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Two KU technologies to be featured at entrepreneurship symposium

Tue, 04/02/2013

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas will be well-represented at one of the nation’s most exclusive venture capital events.

Two KU technologies will be featured at the annual University Research & Entrepreneurship Symposium, a showcase of the most promising university-based inventions for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, which will be Wednesday, April 3, in Cambridge, Mass.

The symposium is designed to introduce a select group of cutting-edge university technologies to investors and entrepreneurs, with the goal of securing funding for new startup companies and converting university technologies into new products and cures.

The URES is highly selective and this year chose only 33 technologies for presentations. KU is one of only seven institutions to earn multiple presentation slots, joining Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mayo Clinic, University of Pittsburgh and University of Wisconsin at Madison.

“Our goal is to transfer KU discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace,” said Julie Goonewardene, associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and president of the KU Center for Technology Commercialization, “and presenting two of our strongest research projects to investors at the URES is a great way to do that. By getting in front of this group, we hope to commercialize KU technologies to benefit people and society.”

The KU researchers and their inventions/research are as follows:

  • Mark Fisher, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – Fisher is developing new technologies to address protein-folding diseases. Nearly 30-50 percent of all diseases that affect humans at any one time result from protein-folding defects. A subset of these folding diseases includes forms of Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, some cancers, diabetes and emphysema.
  • Heather Desaire, Department of Chemistry; and Melinda Toumi, entrepreneur – Desaire and Toumi are developing new protein production technologies that are broadly applicable to many areas of biomedical research.

The URES has a strong history of creating partnerships that result in new university startup companies and the commercialization of university inventions. Over the past five years, 13 companies have received nearly $100 million in funding due to presentations at the symposium.

This is the second straight year KU will have a strong showing at the event. Last year, KU had three projects selected for presentations and was one of only four institutions to earn multiple presentation slots in the life science tracks.

There are currently 24 KU startup companies in existence, and the university has 72 active license agreements with companies for the commercial use of KU inventions.

“As the state’s flagship research university, our goal is to do research that produces a return on investment for Kansas and, more importantly, that creates new products and cures for people,” Goonewardene said.



Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here: http://bit.ly/1awodaa
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. http://t.co/c6Ss0FsWLL #KUworks http://t.co/FW0eI69uRi
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: http://bit.ly/1awodaa Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.


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