WARF at 95: Innovating in a Disrupted World

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Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Investing in research, making a difference.

WARF at 95: Innovating in a Disrupted World

Message from the Chief Executive Officer Headwinds, disruption and social change – I want to take this letter to honor all we have faced and come to terms with together over the course of this year. But challenges are not a new phenomenon. In fact, they are the very thing that gives rise to inventions. In this, WARF’s 95th year, I draw inspiration from our challenges past, present and future. Our work supporting scientific innovation offers countless opportunities for optimism; every new disclosure is a renewal. We are fortunate and grateful for this front row seat to progress. Please take a moment this season and let us share with you some of our favorite stories. In these pages you will find these and more stories of renewal: • Discover how UW–Madison innovators rose to our COVID-19 Challenge. • Meet a celebrated vaccine expert with a foot in two worlds. • Hear from an entrepreneur partnering with WARF Accelerator to restore sight to the most vulnerable. • Join a member of our team reimagining the Broader Impacts of science. • Explore our robust WARF Therapeutics pipeline. • Celebrate our 2020 WARF Innovation Award nominees working to solve climate change, cancer and other pressing issues of our time. I hope you enjoy the latest updates from WARF Ventures, our intellectual property & licensing team and so much more. I am proud of our accomplishments and, most of all, our people and partnerships this year. Until we are together again, I wish you and your family a joyous season, and a healthy and peaceful New Year. All the best –

Chief Executive Officer Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF)






t a ke s f o r m

It is the curse – or perhaps the great honor – of those who study disease that their work shines brightest in dark days.

“And all with Yoshi in Japan since the pandemic started, advising the Japanese government on their COVID-19 response.”

Rickets, pellagra, malnutrition, crop loss, HIV, neurodegeneration – all blights that UW–Madison researchers have sought to unravel and resolve throughout the university’s history.

Like so many of the stories that have emerged from the pandemic, the CoroFlu project bridges academia and industry, crosses disciplines and oceans. For its part in the story, Bharat Biotech says its core mission is to apply innovative technologies to address the health care concerns of the developing world. Ninety percent of its vaccines are sold in lower- and middle-income countries, with affordable pricing being core to its business model.

The novel coronavirus is the latest call to action. With many labs shuttered and research programs in limbo, scientists in Wisconsin and around the world redirected their forces to finding solutions. The pivot of a generation. It was against this backdrop when, in April, news broke that a team of prominent campus virologists along with two vaccine companies, Madison-based FluGen and Bharat Biotech of India, had begun development of a potential vaccine, called CoroFlu. CoroFlu (coronavirus + influenza) literally builds on the backbone of a flu vaccine being developed by FluGen based in part on pioneering work by Profs. Yoshihiro Kawaoka and Gabriele Neumann. By inserting gene sequences from SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), it may be possible to forge a vaccine that induces immunity against both viruses. While work is ongoing and success never assured, Kawaoka is adept at pivoting. The UW–Madison professor of Pathobiological Sciences is a tall figure in his field, esteemed for homerun influenza vaccine technology and boots-on-the-ground response to Ebola outbreaks in Africa. Neumann is his longtime research partner in these endeavors, which have conspired to make Kawaoka something of a celebrity in his native Japan. Prolific inventors, Kawaoka and Neumann have worked closely for many years with WARF’s Jennifer Gottwald and Victoria Sutton. For them, championing the CoroFlu project meant tight deadlines, negotiations and uncommon urgency. “It was no surprise to me that Yoshi and Gabi were able to quickly and effectively add SARS-CoV-2 to their research work and become valuable collaborators for others in companies and academia,” Jennifer says.

Capable of producing almost Sutton 300 million doses per year, the Victoria WARF, Intellectual Property Manager company has commercialized more than a dozen vaccines over the years, including a vaccine against the H1N1 flu that caused a pandemic in 2009. Back in Madison, research moves forward. How SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted and causes disease remain burning questions for Kawaoka. He has shown that infected hamsters, like humans, develop Jennifer Gottwald severely damaging infections WARF, Director of Licensing deep in the lungs. But they also develop protective antibodies and respond well to antibodies taken from the blood of other infected hamsters – another signal that sera from recovered patients could play a role in healing the sick. “Yoshi and Gabi are amazing to work with,” says Jennifer. “They are driven to understand how viruses affect humans, and they champion WARF as their partner to get their inventions applied in the real world.”


COVID-19 Accelerator Challenge

In the spring, in the face of escalating disruption and tragedy caused by COVID-19, WARF announced it was dedicating a portion of its WARF Accelerator funds to inspire and advance technologies to combat the pandemic. The $100,000 fund challenged UW–Madison researchers to design, develop and deploy solutions on the timescale of months. Campus rose to the challenge. After vetting dozens of proposals, WARF staff selected nine projects to receive development funding. From improved respirators to streamlined testing, proposals emerged from an astounding range of disciplines, including statistics, design studies, engineering, hygiene and more:

Beth Werner

WARF, Director of IP, Life Sciences


• Azam Ahmed (neurological surgery) and Terrence Oakes (radiology) for safe and sanitizable technologies to help prevent virus spread in a hospital setting • Kayley Janssen (Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene) for surveillance of the virus in wastewaters • Tim Osswald (mechanical engineering) for mass production of cleanable and reusable respirators • Kalpana Raja and Ron Stewart (Morgridge Institute for Research) for a drug repurposing discovery software system • Joshua Medow (biomedical engineering) for a digital assistance system for medical staff • Lennon Rodgers (UW Makerspace) for a compact air-purifying respirator • David O’Connor (pathology and laboratory medicine), Thomas Friedrich (pathobiological sciences) & David Beebe (biomedical engineering) for accelerated COVID-19 testing • Nathan Sherer (oncology) for an assay to identify virus inhibitors • Brian Yandell (statistics) for a method to track and visualize the outbreak in counties with small populations

Beth Werner, WARF’s Director of IP, Life Sciences, helped envision and execute the COVID-19 Challenge. She says, “Both the number of applications and diversity of the technical solutions proposed are a testament to the depth of amazing science that goes on at UW–Madison. I’m excited to see the progress these researchers make in the upcoming year to provide solutions for this public health crisis.”

Behind the Scenes: WARF Programming Goes Virtual Doctors and musicians, entrepreneurs and investors, scientists and students… While COVID-19 has brought isolation to many, hundreds of people from across the community continue to tune in, reach out and connect with WARF Programming. With the cessation of in-person events – which typically attract hundreds of attendees to the Discovery Building on campus – popular WARF programs like Essential Topics and Saturday Science have gone virtual. The pivot may appear seamless to participants, but behind the scenes, the transition has called for ingenuity, imagination and mastering of new tools. “Our team had about a week to coordinate the first virtual event so everything came together very quickly,” recalls Shauna Baranczyk, WARF Event Manager. “With so many different virtual products available, it was important to us to find a platform that could continue to foster valuable connections between our experts and our audience while maintaining a safe and engaging environment. While no platform offered everything we wanted, we were able to reimagine elements of our programs to fit the virtual environment.” Highlights of the year include a special session of Entrepreneurons featuring Mike Partsch, Head of WARF Ventures, and experts from across the region sharing strategies to help small businesses weather the pandemic.

Shauna Baranczyk

WARF, Event Manager

SoundWaves made music out of chaos, while a series of Essential Topics and Crossroads of Ideas webinars lived up to their billing, tackling real-time subjects like election 2020, immigration and visions for a post-COVID world. With many classrooms shuttered – and hands-on STEM instruction imperiled – the team has continued to produce a “home edition” of Saturday Science, a monthly staple of K-8 engagement. Topics like Bees, BioBlitzes & Beyond and Crystals, Rainbows & Light Detectives welcomed hundreds of families and students via an online portal, empowering them to connect with researchers.

Strengthening Congressional Relations During a Crisis In mid-March, WARF CEO Erik Iverson was scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation. The meetings never happened due to the COVID crisis, but for the exact same reason the conversations became all the more important. With the in-person meetings cancelled, Erik shared conference calls with the offices of Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson in March, and he and WARF Communications maintained regular correspondence with the senators, with the representatives from each of Wisconsin’s eight House districts, and with various state of Wisconsin government departments. WARF shared the steps we were taking to fund and develop COVID-related technologies, support the university through the crisis, and adopt licensing guidelines, together with our partners at AUTM, to ensure a strong and ethical pandemic response. In each case, the leaders responded with guidance on how researchers, startups and other WARF partners across Wisconsin could access federal relief from the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, as well as other programs. Each of these conversations took place as part of the strong ongoing relationship between WARF, UW–Madison and our local, state and federal officials. For more on WARF’s government relations activities, see the stories on the Shaping the Endless Frontier Series (p.19), the D.C. Patent Briefing (p.19), and Bayh-Dole’s 40th Anniversary (p.27).



WARF Therapeutics After just over a year of WARF Therapeutics executing on its nascent portfolio, the portfolio had grown to eight projects, although recent attrition has focused our portfolio to five current projects. The program’s highest priority (oncology) program came from UW PIs discovering a vulnerability, an Achilles heel of sorts, of an important protein that causes cancer (referred to as an oncogene). This target has big commercial potential in more than one indication. WARF Therapeutics partner, Sanford Burnham Prebys (SBP), completed the High Throughput Screening (HTS) campaign for this program (702), successfully identifying a plethora of chemical “hits” that “bound” to the 702 target protein. WARF Therapeutics has designed new chemical analogs, Jon Young synthesized at medicinal chemistry partner Pharmaron, that are showing promising Head of WARF Therapeutics improvements in several key properties. Based on this information, program 702 moved to Stage Two, lead identification. The WARF Therapeutics program for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) began HTS in August and will be completed in early November. Other portfolio highlights include forging a partnership with Viva Biotech in July. We are pleased with the progress they have made on a new oncology program 217, completing the synthesis of the protein, developing an assay and completing the pilot screen within two months! The pandemic affected all aspects of WARF Therapeutics’ global drug discovery operations from Madison to San Diego, Shanghai and Beijing. At the May Scientific Advisory Board meeting, the team discussed and identified contract research organizations (CROs) that could provide functional redundancy should the pandemic shut down current partners and expand technological capabilities to fill the identified gaps. As such, four new collaborators joined the WARF Therapeutics virtual lab that will collectively help drive the portfolio forward including Gfree Bio (in silico chemistry and structure-based design), Viva Biotech (screening platforms, protein expression & crystallization and X-ray), Reaction Biology (screening assays) and Sai Life Sciences (protein expression, assay development and screening platforms). The relationship with Pharmaron expanded to include running WARF Therapeutics’ routine biological assays in addition to executing the program’s chemistry and drug metabolism activities. The WARF Therapeutics laboratory footprint now includes North America, Europe, India and Asia. Learn more at warf.org/therapeutics.


An Ultra-Rare Combination

This year the world’s attention has been seized by crisis. But a gene therapy to restore sight to the most vulnerable is advancing towards clinical trial, championed by a University of Wisconsin researcher and a Navy SEAL-turned entrepreneur. With a plan to bring a therapeutic for curing blindness in certain pediatric patients in less than 30 months… To suffer from an ultra-rare disorder means, almost by definition, to suffer alone. And LCA-16 is an exceptionally rare disorder, so recently discovered that a test has only been available for the last two years. A form of inherited pediatric blindness, an afflicted child will most likely be clinically blind by the age of 10. Dr. Bikash Pattnaik knows each of their names. “If anyone could work on this [disease] for a solution at a molecular level, it was me, so I jumped at this opportunity,” he says. Dr. Pattnaik is a research professor in the departments of pediatrics, ophthalmology and visual science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is a physiologist by training with a special interest in blindness due to defective ion channels (or channelopathy). On a cold spring day in Madison, Dr. Pattnaik is visiting the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, one of the world’s original tech transfer offices, chartered with moving discoveries to market. More often than not, that means surfacing people outside of academia willing to bet on young technology and win capital for projects they believe in. Enter Jeff Sabados.

Dr. Bikash Pattnaik

School of Medicine and Public Health Photo courtesy of UW–Madison

Sabados, gracious and intense, describes himself as a selfless leader “with the sickness” to be an entrepreneur. He has co-founded three previous companies and serves as an advisor to several more including two biotech companies developing drugs for PTSD and COVID-19. His chops include six deployments – including time spent in Afghanistan and leading operations off the coast of Somalia – as well as Harvard University and MIT.

Sabados and Pattnaik seem an unlikely pair, but the synergy works. “Getting to know Bikash, getting to understand his research and his humility and his passion for the patient, I told myself I couldn’t stop,” says Sabados. “This is what I wanted to do.” Having worked with dozens of university licensing offices and executed 11 different licensing agreements, he says the WARF team “has easily been the best technology licensing office team I’ve ever worked with.” The innovation that has brought this group together is a potential first-in-class gene therapy to halt retinal degeneration and restore vision to the handful of LCA-16 patients known to science, with some promising applications in other retinal disorders that impact millions of people worldwide.


Pattnaik explains that LCA (or Leber’s congenital amaurosis) is a family of disorders all caused by different gene mutations. While a few major pharma companies – Allergen/Editas and Roche – have developed or are developing therapies for other, more common forms of the disease, LCA-16 currently has no approved therapies. He explains that this particular form of the disease is caused by mutations in a gene called KCNJ13, causing dysfunction of the ion channel and thus degrading the ability of photoreceptor cells to encode visual stimuli. LCA-16 is so rare – only affecting individuals of Middle Eastern descent – that the mutations may have originated from a single family line.

One of the best acts of legislation Congress has done.

In simplified terms, Pattnaik wants to use a viral vector to deliver healthy copies of the gene via injection deep in the eye. In a proof-of-concept study, he showed that this “gene augmentation” approach can rescue ion channel function in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from the stem cells of affected individuals. It has worked in diseased mice. He is confident it will work in patients. Sabados is confident too. If everything goes well they plan to begin treating patients next summer, potentially curing their blindness within a matter of weeks. Admittedly, raising venture capital during the COVID-19 crisis has been no small feat. But the company Sabados founded to move this project forward is called Hubble Therapeutics – a homage to the aspirational. Despite the pandemic, “the impetus and the struggle and the sense of urgency around biotech” has never been greater, he says. The humanitarian significance of the LCA-16 project is manifest. But key to incentivizing it is an FDA program Sabados calls “one of the best acts of legislation Congress has done.” To encourage life science companies to develop therapies for very small patient populations, the FDA can award a voucher promising accelerated (versus “standard”) drug product review. Such companies can sell these vouchers, or golden tickets, to other companies keen on moving their own drug to market faster. Jeff Sabados

President of Hubble Therapeutics

In the world of big pharma, getting a blockbuster drug into the market six months early can yield enormous additional profit. So much so that FDA vouchers have been bartered between companies for hundreds of millions of dollars.

But perhaps most importantly, Pattnaik believes that news of the treatment for LCA-16 may percolate through communities throughout the world, inspiring untold others to seek treatment for a disease they assumed was hopeless. “That’s the most important goal,” he says. “To reach out to a broader mass so that people are aware that this [disease] is now worked out, and we do have a treatment developed.” For Sabados there is also a lesson in this story about humility, passion and the essence of basic research. “Early stage university research is able to look outside the box at next-generation therapeutic solutions. If you look at our biotech industry, which will literally save the world, a lot of the transformational companies developing life-saving therapeutics today came from a university research team with a lab bench. “Universities are the solution… and the University of Wisconsin is one of the best.”




WARF Ventures formally launched in November 2019 to invest in select startup companies within the UW community. The team provides focused support and resources to advance technologies from UW-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research. Since January 2020, WARF Ventures made investments in these early stage companies working to empower physicians, fight cancer, support new artists and solve other critical problems. Several of the technologies behind WARF Ventures investments have roots in WARF Accelerator. Visit warf.org/ventures to learn more.

Commercializing a stand-up CT scanner and radiotherapy system that reduces the cost of radiotherapy and improves cancer patient outcomes through upright positioning. Founding technology from Morgridge Institute for Research PIs Robert Swader (lead) and Rock Mackie

A precision surgical oncology company developing a complete system for real-time localization of cancerous lesions. Founding technology from Dr. Fred Lee (Radiology)

Medical device startup commercializing the AtriAmp, which allows for direct monitoring of atrial electrical signals in existing bedside monitors, enabling proactive and rapid detection of AFib and other atrial arrhythmias without the need for a mobile ECG.

Software company commercializing a business intelligence platform that uses a natural language interface to make data science tools and advanced data analytics accessible to front-line business users, without requiring them to become programmers.

Founding technology from Nick Von Bergen (Pediatric Cardiology)

Founding technology from Jignesh Patel (Computer Science)

A clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a ‘universal’ vaccine for seasonal and pandemic influenza that utilizes a novel protective mechanism that allows for the vaccine to activate multiple types of immunity simultaneously and is effective against distant influenza strains.

Novel gene therapies to treat diseases of the eye, including LCA-16, a rare pediatric blindness disease. Founding technology from Dr. Bikash Pattnaik (Pediatrics)

Founding technology from Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka (Pathobiological Sciences)

(Live Undiscovered Music), a music streaming platform dedicated to helping listeners discover and support new artists that allows for direct-to-artist virtual support via in-app currency.


Founded by Max Fergus, undergraduate (School of Business Student)

Oncology diagnostic company utilizing microfluidics to rapidly advance cancer drug candidates and enable individualized treatment options. Founding technology from Dave Beebe (Biomedical Engineering)

Preclinical therapeutic company developing a treatment for dry eye disease, based on collagen mimetic peptide technology. Founding technology from Ron Raines (Biochemistry)

Photo credit: Bryce Richter/UW–Madison

From Disclosure to Patent Disclosing an invention can be the first step in a lifechanging journey. Iconic technologies, from stem cells to microprocessors, come through WARF’s doors as disclosures. And a steady disclosure pipeline feeds a strong patent portfolio. Once again this year, WARF and UW–Madison ranked among the top 10 universities in the world granted U.S. utility patents. Behind these patents are new tools and methods to beat cancer, empower farmers, realize clean energy, leverage machine learning and more. Some of these patents have become the seeds of startups; others are successfully licensed to industry. All have the full backing of WARF to succeed in the marketplace of ideas. “Being in the top 10 as a source of U.S. utility patents in the world is a strong indication of the kind of innovative research and discovery that is taking place at our university,” said Steve Ackerman, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. “This ranking also shows the continuing success of the UW–Madison partnership with WARF, and how that collaboration continues to move innovations to the marketplace to make a global impact, something that is needed now more than ever during these trying times of addressing COVID-19 impacts.” Steve Ackerman

Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education Photo credit: Jeff Miller/UW–Madison





Positive and Negative

Introducing Geladen, a young startup launched by former UW–Madison professor (and WARF Accelerator alum) Mark Etzel. The company is advancing a pair of ultra-charged technologies that could transform dairy processing and potentially create a new market. One of Etzel’s innovations is a negatively charged filter useful for concentrating proteins from milk and cheese whey. His technology can do the job significantly faster than existing (uncharged) filters. Speed is a major benefit to dairy processors because it means less water consumption and wastewater generation, less energy consumption, less capital expenditure for expansion and reduced labor costs. “My plan now is to sublicense [this technology] to a filter manufacturer who would handle manufacturing, sales, advertising and customer support,” Etzel says. “I would supply the IP, technical support, consulting services, inventor involvement, limited experimental data, product prototype and handle all dealings with WARF.” Meanwhile, in-house at Geladen, Etzel continues work de-risking a new positively charged ultrafiltration membrane that can do something that no other filter can – separate one protein from another. That’s important because cheese whey contains two main proteins, one that is naturally present in human mother’s milk, and another that is foreign and often causes life-threatening food allergies in babies. In other words, his technology allows manufacture of humanized infant formula from cheese whey. As with any disruptive technology, adoption can take time. So for now, Geladen will continue developing the prototype and blazing the trail. Stay tuned.

Mark Staudt

WARF, Licensing Manager


Licensing Manager Mark Staudt says, “It’s always fun to work on projects that utilize so much of our ecosystem and working with Prof. Etzel has been a real joy. I’m excited to have the license in place now, and am really looking forward to seeing this continue to move forward with Geladen.”


Innovation Day showcases top tech The third annual WARF Innovation Day went global on November 18. The virtual session brought together hundreds of researchers, entrepreneurs and members of industry, who enjoyed four live quick pitches while celebrating the UW experience. Nhi Lê

WARF, Accelerator Associate

Innovation Day is always a good opportunity to connect industry, investors and the public with the great technologies we have in the WARF Accelerator portfolio.

A signature fall event, WARF Innovation Day spotlights R&D activities on campus and connects tech insiders to high-potential 1 opportunities being advanced by faculty and staff. New this year, the event featured glimpses of cherished UW–Madison places, people and traditions, with special guests from Badger athletics, the UW Med Flight team and university leadership.

The Quick Pitch lineup featured: • 1 ECMO Simulator for Lifesaving Oxygenation Procedures Erick Przybylski (Simulation Center – School of Medicine and Public Health) • 2 Rendering Reality: Enhancing Virtual and Augmented Reality Kevin Ponto (Design Studies – School of Human Ecology) • 3 Wearable Tendon Force Measurement System to Improve Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Darryl Thelen (Mechanical Engineering – College of Engineering) • 4 Cost-Saving Dairy Protein Separation Mark Etzel (Food Science – College of Agricultural and Life Sciences)

2 Photo credit: Bryce Richter/UW–Madison







Innovation Awards The annual WARF Innovation Awards are an opportunity to celebrate the brightest ideas on campus. This year the nominees are confronting some of the most pressing challenges of our time, from climate change to cancer immunotherapy, nuclear fusion to personalized medicine and a better night’s sleep. An independent panel of judges selected the Innovation Award winners from a field of six finalists drawn from among approximately 400+ invention disclosures submitted to WARF over the past 12 months. The winning inventions each receive an award of $10,000, with the funds going to the UW–Madison inventors named on the breakthroughs. The 2020 WARF Innovation Award finalists are:

Jeanine Burmania

WARF, Senior Director, IP and Licensing

It is always a rewarding process to choose the finalists for the WARF Innovation Awards. These six technologies show so much promise to have great impact in their fields. All of the nominees are high potential technologies to watch in the months and years to come.

• Jenny Gumperz, Dana Baiu (medical microbiology and immunology) – Killer Combination: Multicell Conjugates for Activating Antigen-Specific T Cell Responses • Cary Forest (physics) Jay Anderson, John Wallace, Robert Harvey, Yuri Petrov – High-Energy Plasma Generator for Medical Isotope Production, Nuclear Waste Disposal & Power Generation • David Plante (psychiatry), Reid Alisch (neurological surgery) – First Molecular Sleep Test Based on Epigenetic Discovery • Bu Wang (civil & environmental engineering), Raghavendra Ragipani (civil & environmental engineering) – Carbon Dioxide Capture and Sequestration Using Alkaline Industrial Wastes • Randolph Ashton (biomedical engineering), Gavin Knight, Benjamin Knudsen, Nisha Iyer – Superior Neural Tissue Models for Disease Modelling, Drug Development and More • Bhuvana Krishnaswamy (electrical & computer engineering), Megan McClean (biomedical engineering) – Bridging Biology and Electronics for “Hybrid” Biosensing



Shaping the Endless Frontier:

A Two-Part Event with Midwest Thought Leaders

It’s not often you find a California Democrat agreeing wholeheartedly with a Wisconsin Republican (especially when one loves the 49ers and the other is a die-hard Packer fan). But that’s exactly what happened when Congressmen Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara, CA) and Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay, WI) shared their views during the “Shaping the Endless Frontier” series, co-hosted by WARF, Michael Best Strategies, UW-Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Technology Council. The two-part online event explained why Midwest states are uniquely equipped to spark the nation’s economy and drive meaningful innovation—and why Wisconsin can lead the way. Part one featured WARF CEO Erik Iverson, Greater Madison Urban League President Ruben Anthony, and John Austin of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs. In addition to Khanna and Gallagher, part two also featured Professor Melissa Skala, a biomedical engineer at UW–Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research, and Chancellor Mark Mone of UW-Milwaukee. Both programs were moderated by Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council. The series was named for the Khanna/Gallagher co-sponsored Endless Frontier Act, which would invest $100 billion in federal funding in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research. We look forward to continuing to advocate for the bill in the coming year.

Stephanie Adamany Speaks at U.S. House Briefing on the Patent System This past February, WARF General Counsel Stephanie Adamany was invited to present at a Capitol Hill lunch briefing for members of the House and their staff. Entitled “Jobs, Economic Competitiveness, National Security and the U.S. Patent System,” the program explained the importance of maintaining strong patent rights to protect U.S. economic and national security. Stephanie spoke about the legacy of the Bayh-Dole Act in building strong relationships between university technology transfer offices and federal funding agencies. She also fielded questions about the essential role of patenting for maintaining both Bayh-Dole and tech transfer. Other panelists included the Honorable Paul Michel, retired Chief Judge for the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and Laurie Self, Senior Vice President of Qualcomm. They discussed the effects of recent court decisions on patent eligibility and the need to strengthen patents through legislative reform. The panel was hosted by the Innovation Alliance, a D.C.-based coalition that advocates for patent rights.

Michael Falk, Chief Intellectual Property and Licensing Officer, and Stephanie Adamany, General Counsel, WARF


Nanjing University, WARF and UW–Madison: An Ongoing Partnership When Erik Iverson visited Nanjing University in the spring of 2019, he knew it would be the beginning of an ongoing relationship, and the cooperation between Nanjing and Madison continued to bear fruit over the past 18 months. In November 2019, WARF and UW–Madison hosted a delegation from Nanjing at a conference on university intellectual property held in the Discovery Building. Nearly 200 researchers, attorneys and guests spent the day hearing perspectives on protection, enforcement and commercialization. Sessions included panels on building an entrepreneurial and technology commercialization ecosystem in a university setting and the myths and reality of enforcing and commercializing IP in China, as well as a fireside chat between Erik Iverson and Xinfang Gao, a discussion of WARF Accelerator and remarks from Chancellor Rebecca Blank. In addition to Erik, Michael Falk, Greg Keenan and Justin Anderson spoke at the event. Then, in June 2020, while unable to welcome travelers due to the pandemic, Nanjing nonetheless returned the favor when Michael Falk participated (virtually) in Nanjing Tech Week. The theme of the conference was “The New Characteristics of Technology Transfer in the Post-Epidemic Period.” Michael provided an overview of WARF’s mission, operations and partnerships with campus and industry. He also explained how intellectual property protections have been contributing to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As Michael argued, the longstanding best practices of tech transfer, combined with proactive efforts to adapt to the crisis, have placed the industry in strong position to assist in a global response. As Michael stated, “no single country, no single government, no single company or entity will be successful on their own.” Therefore, 20 the cooperation facilitated by IP rights is essential for developing treatments and vaccines.


As part of the Wisconsin Science Festival, WARF Programming organized drive-in showings of science-themed films at the Madison Mallards Duck Pond.


This year’s Wisconsin Science Festival offered a (virtual) road trip through intriguing science destinations across the state. Events included behind-the-scenes tours, science comedy, nature explorations, a glimpse into the future with leading researchers, drive-in movies, opportunities for young Wisconsinites to chat with scientists and more. The festival engaged and entertained people of all ages by showcasing how science is an integral part of our lives, from the soils in our yards to the foods we eat. And, the mostly online format allowed us to reach new audiences in Wisconsin and beyond. “Our statewide partners found new ways to connect with the public and make science relevant, accessible and understandable,” said Program Manager Sam Mulrooney. “We were able to offer more than 100 events that highlighted local businesses, explored current issues and demonstrated how fun science can be.” More than 30,000 people from Wisconsin and around the globe took part in the festival.

Samantha Mulrooney WARF, Program Manager

Impact Identity Demonstrating the societal benefit of research has never been more important to federal funding bodies. But reaching minds and hearts is a science in itself. WARF’s Travis Tangen is part of a movement reimagining the impact enterprise. Along with Intellectual Merit, Broader Impacts – the potential of a research project to benefit society and advance desired societal outcomes – is one of two primary criteria the National Science Foundation uses to evaluate proposals. For years now the Discovery Outreach Team has helped dozens of UW–Madison and Morgridge Institute researchers address this essential criterion when developing proposals. To date, the team has been invited to participate in more than 100 submissions from seven UW–Madison schools and colleges. Some 28 have been successful, with several still pending. These successful grants have brought more than $35.5 million in research funding to campus.


Leveraging an arsenal of well-honed outreach programs like Saturday Science means researchers don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” with every proposal, notes Karen Schloss, Assistant Professor of Psychology at UW–Madison.

Now, Education and Outreach Manager Travis Tangen is helping lead an effort funded by NSF to reimagine, redesign and enhance Broader Impacts. Through Travis, WARF is part of this nationwide movement run by several universities across the country. “This has massive implications for all of the National Science Foundation’s enterprise,” says Laura Heisler, WARF’s Director of Programming. Part of the challenge is that while NSF review panels bring deep scientific expertise, there is no parallel expertise in the area of public engagement. Also, the sheer diversity of impact activities – from workshops to web campaigns – introduces variation. “We’re trying to develop tools so there is some level of consistency for researchers when they develop their projects,” Travis says. “Whether it’s a television show, an exhibit or teacher professional development.” Of course, the goal of many of these activities is the same – to empower young people to see themselves as a scientist or think about the world through a science lens. “Those ideas are really important in terms of general support for and trust in science,” Travis says.

Travis Tangen

WARF, Education and Outreach Manager

And for researchers developing proposals on campus, it’s not simply a matter of “plugging in” to existing programs at the Discovery Building. Step one, says Travis, is helping researchers discover their “impact identity.” This process often starts with a conversation exploring issues or opportunities that researchers care about. In the case of Prof. Karen Schloss, that meant drawing on her passion for empowering young women in STEM. The result was a relevant Broader Impacts plan with the nonprofit organization Girls Inc., as well as exemplary NSF reviews. “We’re all extremely passionate about the science that we’re doing,” she says. “Let’s use that to engage the public in science more broadly.” But is this holistic, strategic and personalized approach to Broader Impacts the right model? “It’s been clearly evident from all sides,” says Travis. “Not just the PI, not just me, but even how community partners feel as participants in the process.” And that’s a critical piece. Community partners are not “tools” but respected co-developers and influencers throughout the project, says Travis. Laura believes the Broader Impacts redesign effort speaks to the grand vision of the Discovery Building, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on December 2, 2020. What she calls “in utero to grave” grant support makes the entire university more competitive. “We at WARF talk about cradle to grave support. But working with faculty to help them get their grants is the step before the baby is born,” she says. “It’s yet another way in which the Discovery Building is delivering on its promise to accelerate and boost productive activity for the campus, which was WARF’s intention.”




WARF staff and their families continue to devote hundreds of hours to support and strengthen our community. From food banks to blood drives, fundraisers to elder care, our staff are coming together to make a difference.




Former Senator Birch Bayh and Senator Bob Dole, authors of the Bayh-Dole Act, in Washington D.C. on July 22, 1985.

The 40th Anniversary of the Bayh-Dole Act At the beginning of this year, the technology transfer profession was gearing up to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, the landmark law that gives universities the rights to patent and commercialize federally funded research. Little did we know that 2020 had a few other surprises in store. But as the year has progressed, and as WARF and our partners moved to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, the public-private relationships facilitated by the Bayh-Dole Act have been crucial in meeting the challenge. Formally called the Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act of 1980, but most often identified by the last names of its Senate co-sponsors, Birch Bayh (D-IN) and Robert Dole (R-KS), the Bayh-Dole Act was born during an earlier global crisis—the economic shocks of the 1970s. At the time, a patchwork of inconsistent federal regulations impeded the successful commercialization of federally sponsored technologies. Universities were conducting more high-quality research than ever before, but their ability to bring innovations to market ground almost to a halt at the very moment the global economy needed a boost.

A 10th Wisconsin Science Festival Like No Other

Leaders at UW–Madison and WARF recognized the problem and joined together with their colleagues at the University of Miami, Iowa State, Purdue and the National Institutes of Health to develop a solution. The Bayh-Dole Act, signed into law on December 12, 1980, was the final outcome of their advocacy. The law formally established a federal mandate to commercialize research for public benefit, but just as crucially, it empowered individual research institutions to be part of the solution. To quote the act itself, Bayh-Dole enables “collaboration between commercial concerns and nonprofit organizations, including universities,” in order to “promote free competition and enterprise without unduly encumbering future research and discovery.” Forty years later, Bayh-Dole continues to light the way as universities respond, not just to COVID-19, but to technological challenges in the years ahead.

WARF both Catalyst and Beneficiary of Bayh-Dole Before Bayh-Dole, turning basic research into a successful commercial invention involved a lot of uncertainty and demanded a good deal of perseverance, resourcefulness and just plain luck. When that situation began to change in the early 1970s, it had a lot to do with the efforts of WARF Patent Counsel Howard Bremer, UW–Madison Vice President Bill Young, and WARF inventor and biochemistry professor Hector DeLuca. Together, they secured WARF Patent Counsel Howard Bremer and landmark agreements with the National Institutes of Biochemistry Professor Hector DeLuca Health and the National Science Foundation that allowed WARF to develop DeLuca’s vitamin D derivatives and bring them to market. Those agreements became the basis for the Bayh-Dole Act. When Bayh-Dole was signed into law in December 1980, WARF had been issued 341 patents over the prior 55 years. By contrast, in 2020 WARF now holds over 2,000 active patents and more than 3,800, counting expired patents. Of the top 30 most successfully commercialized and widely used inventions in WARF’s history, 26 have been developed after 1980, including all of the top 10. WARF has been around for 95 years, but 91% of our patents have been issued in the past 40 years. We’re proud of our legacy and happy to share the credit 27 with Bayh-Dole and with all of our partners and colleagues in the university tech transfer profession.



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28 Photo credit: Jeff Miller/UW–Madison

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Follow our #WARFat95 campaign on Twitter to learn more.




To celebrate WARF’s 95th anniversary, starting in August, for 95 days up to the anniversary date of November 14, we highlighted 95 people, products and ideas that have made a difference.



WARF’s Anniversary













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Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Investing in research, making a difference.


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