Accelerating UW-Madison discoveries on the path to commercialization: The WARF Accelerator Program

As part of their ongoing mission to support scientific research within the UW–Madison community, and translate innovation to the marketplace, WARF manages a technology development program called the WARF Accelerator Program. This program invests in proof-of-concept milestones that validate market potential, demonstrate commercial value, and de-risk technology to attract industry partners or investors. In 2018-2019 alone, the program awarded over $2.4 million to help inventors bridge the oft-described “valley of death” through developing prototypes, executing critical field trials, assessing markets, determining customer requirements, and identifying collaborators and potential investors. The program market focus areas include computer science and engineering, clean technology, food......

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Anne Smith to accept Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education award

Anne Smith, Founder of the UW-Madison Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic and Director of Legal Strategy for the Forward BIO Institute, has been announced as this year’s recipient of the “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Technology Council, the “Triple E” award was launched to highlight the importance of teaching and mentoring entrepreneurs. Smith’s selection was based on: Delivering outstanding quality in teaching entrepreneurship and/or mentoring entrepreneurs, in or out of the classroom Stimulating innovative methods for teaching or mentoring entrepreneurs Promoting entrepreneurial education and mentorship among scholars, policymakers, practitioners and others Providing a significant contribution to the......

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Nano-sized solution for efficient and versatile CRISPR gene editing

If used to make non-heritable genetic changes, CRISPR gene-editing technology holds tremendous promise for treating or curing a wide range of devastating disorders, including sickle cell disease, vision loss, and muscular dystrophy. Early efforts to deliver CRISPR-based therapies to affected tissues in a patient’s body typically have involved packing the gene-editing tools into viral vectors, which may cause unwanted immune reactions and other adverse effects. Now, NIH-supported researchers have developed an alternative CRISPR delivery system: nanocapsules. Not only do these tiny, synthetic capsules appear to pose a lower risk of side effects, they can be precisely customized to deliver their......

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Search moves forward for vice chancellor for research and graduate education

A search for the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s next vice chancellor for research and graduate education is moving forward. A 15-member search-and-screen committee, chaired by Bill Murphy, professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics and rehabilitation, will conduct a nationwide search to replace Marsha Mailick, who retired in 2018. Norman Drinkwater, professor of oncology, served as interim vice chancellor before his retirement in August 2019, and Steve Ackerman, atmospheric science professor and former associate vice chancellor for research in the physical sciences, is currently in the interim role. A position description can be found at  “This is a tremendous opportunity and really an......

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Forward BIOLABS quickly outgrows its capacity

Within seven months of receiving a $750,000 Targeted Industry Project Grant from WEDC and $200,000 in seed funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Forward BIOLABS had already maxed out its capacity and begun gearing up for expansion. This is evidence of the rapid and visible growth taking place in Wisconsin’s biomanufacturing sector—growth that Forward BIOLABS is playing a critical role in supporting. A fully equipped, maintained and shared life science lab, Forward BIOLABS gives early-stage companies breathing room and resources to transition research into successful commercialization. Based in Madison’s University Research Park, Forward BIOLABS operates a small laboratory and common office......

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Institute fostering the next generation of innovators

With UW - Madison ranking second in the total number of doctorates awarded in the United States, and Madison being nationally ranked among top tech cities, there is a significant opportunity to supplement the technical education of our trainees to promote and foster the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. As part of its ongoing workforce development efforts, the Forward BIO Institute has launched the Innovators in Training program, targeted to existing doctoral candidates or post-doctoral trainees with an interest in biohealth and biomanufacturing technology. The core elements of the new program reflect the need for interdisciplinary training spanning business,......

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Building a biomanufacturing hotbed

To Bill Murphy and the other leaders of the Forward BIO Initiative, Wisconsin possesses all the elements to become a hub of biomanufacturing in the United States, the Midwest’s version of Boston or San Francisco in this rapidly expanding industry. “Our established, statewide excellence in research, technology development and workforce development make Wisconsin a powerhouse,” says Murphy, the Harvey D. Spangler Professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the chair of the Forward BIO Initiative. “What we need is to coordinate and amplify the ingredients that are in place here. That is what Forward BIO is doing.” The initiative, which......

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D2P enriching campus entrepreneurial ecosystem through partnership with the Forward BIO Institute

Discovery to Product (D2P) serves as the front door to UW-Madison's entrepreneurial ecosystem, coordinating the new Innovate Network to connect faculty, staff, and students across campus with the right commercialization and entrepreneurship resources at the right time. They also provide direct mentoring and education to help campus innovators get their idea or invention to market. “We are pleased to collaborate with D2P, integrating their exemplary education and mentoring resources into the Institute’s existing programs,” states Forward BIO Institute’s Director Bill Murphy. “D2P’s experienced staff of technical and business experts will augment our staff’s expertise in biomanufacturing product development and project......

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Robust assembly of human tissues for disease modeling and discovery

Forward BIO Institute’s Director Bill Murphy recently gave the Plenary talk, entitled Robust Assembly of Human Tissues for Disease Modeling and Discovery, at the Society of Toxicology 2019 Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD. Click here to view the presentation. The need for human, organotypic culture models coupled with the requirements of contemporary drug discovery and toxin screening (i.e. reproducibility, high throughput, transferability of data, clear mechanisms of action) frame an opportunity for a paradigm shift. The next generation of high throughput cell-based assay formats will require a broadly applicable set of tools for human tissue assembly and analysis. Toward that......

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Keegan to lead Forward BIO Institute’s public-private partnerships

As Wisconsin continues to establish its role as a nationwide leader in biomanufacturing, the Forward BIO Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison continues to grow, with the addition of Philip Keegan as its public-private partnership lead. Keegan comes from a background of commercialization and project management, having worked in the medical device industry and on platforms to improve drug therapies. “Phil provides a big boost to our Forward BIO Institute efforts,” says Bill Murphy, the Harvey D. Spangler Professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Forward BIO Institute. “He has the ideal background and mindset to connect innovative technologies......

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Stem cells, lab to clinic

In the fourth and final video of our stem cell series, Forward Bio Institute director Bill Murphy and David Gamm, director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute, where stem cells are being turned into retinal cells to try to find cures for blinding disorders, explain how stem cell scientists are working with industry to put scientific breakthroughs on the path to helping patients. February 7, 2019...

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Rasmussen joins Forward BIO Institute as assistant director

Cathy Rasmussen, an accomplished regenerative medicine and biomanufacturing researcher, has joined the recently established Forward BIO Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as assistant director. Rasmussen, who holds a PhD from UW-Madison in cellular and molecular biology and is an inventor on four U.S. and numerous international patents, was previously part of the pioneering team at Madison biotechnology firm Stratatech, which was acquired by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in 2016. Her work was integral to developing the company’s technology and advancing its products toward commercialization. Rasmussen will work in partnership with William Murphy, director of the Forward BIO Institute and professor of biomedical engineering and......

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Biomanufacturing projects stepping out at UW-Madison

A series of projects aimed at advancing the human-health and economic impact of biomanufacturing is already benefiting from a new University of Wisconsin–Madison institute aimed at making the state a Midwestern hub of the ongoing merger of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cutting-edge tissue engineering. The Forward BIO Institute, announced last month, intends to accelerate UW–Madison’s existing expertise in the next wave of biomedicine. William Murphy, a professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics at UW–Madison, directs the Institute. Three associate directors have been named to the Institute. Sean Palecek, a professor of chemical and biological engineering, is director of research innovation. “Sean is......

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Initiative focuses on advanced technology innovations in biomanufacturing

A $750,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. announced today (Sept. 6) establishes the Forward BIO Initiative, a collaborative effort to make Wisconsin a recognized center of excellence for biomanufacturing. The new initiative “leverages one of our key long-term strengths at UW, which is working at the crossroads where multiple disciplines connect,” UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank told state and university leaders at the MG&E Innovation Center in University Research Park. “The Forward BIO Initiative will have everything it takes to amplify the impact of Wisconsin’s innovations in biomanufacturing,” said William Murphy, a professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics at......

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