D I S C O V E R
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE R E S E A R C H F O U N DAT I O N
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WHERE DISCOVERY AND OPPORTUNITY CONNECT
D I S C O V E R
2021 2 | UTRF DISCOVER 2021
TABLE OF CONTENTS 04
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
FEATURE STORY: INNOVATION IS EVERYWHERE
SENIOR DESIGN PROJECTS
UTRF BY THE NUMBERS
STARTUPS & SIGNIFICANT UPDATES
COMMERCIALIZATION ANALYST INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
OUTREACH & EVENTS
SUPPORTING INNOVATION AT THE LOCAL LEVEL
AUTM AWARDS FOR COVID-19 CONTRIBUTIONS
2021 MATURATION GRANT RECIPIENTS
FY21 ISSUED PATENTS
2021 FEATURED INVENTORS
UTRF STAFF & BOARD
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UT RESEARCH FOUNDATION MISSION
Intellectual Property Commercialization
Our mission is to support an entrepreneurial culture, enhance research and facilitate economic development by commercializing intellectual property created across the University of Tennessee System.
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Stacey S. Patterson, Ph.D. UTRF President
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT As the global pandemic prompted society to rethink the way we work, live and play, new technologies emerged to guide this transition. It’s a signal that the knowledge economy will have an increasingly larger role in our everyday lives and in the way we approach economic development. That’s where UTRF comes in. We support University of Tennessee innovators across the state to develop and deploy technology that solves problems and makes our lives better. And, we have so many wins to celebrate this year. Sentinel Devices was accepted into Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Innovation Crossroads program for its work to increase the cybersecurity protection of critical infrastructure. Memphis-based medical device startup, Entac Medical, received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance to launch PrevisEA for prediction of gastrointestinal impairment. UTRF startup licensees also did well in the capital markets, with Attralus earning special attention by raising $116 million in its Series B financing. UTRF was also recognized nationally for our outstanding contributions in the continued fight against COVID-19. AUTM’s Better World Project honored UTRF and Dr. Peter Tsai, retired UT Knoxville professor and architect behind the material used in the N95 respirator, with the 2020 Legend Award. The organization also spotlighted Dr. Michael Whitt, a UT Health Science Center professor, for his reverse genetics system that allowed Moderna, Pfizer, and others worldwide to safely study and fight the virus.
UTRF supports community building that enables innovators to thrive, grow businesses and become employers. We celebrated the launch of five new companies based on UT technology, three of which are led by graduate student inventors. There are 45 active companies in Tennessee who got their start based on UT technologies. This year, seven of these startups received Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) matching funds from Launch Tennessee, and three others were selected to pitch at Innov865’s Startup Day 2021. Innovation is everywhere at UT, and our team is working to capture every opportunity. UTRF received 175 invention disclosures in FY21, the third highest annual total in our history. We also executed 51 technology license agreements, an all-time high! Through our strong support of the Techstars Industries of the Future Accelerator and the UT Research Park/ Spark, UTRF is helping to bring in new companies and new energy into Tennessee to experience our vast array of assets and talent that will transform the region into a leading clean tech, sustainability-focused powerhouse. I am incredibly thankful for our team at UTRF — its members are at the center of our technology transfer mission and delivering real impact for the residents of our state and around the world. Their enthusiasm for their work and commitment to promoting a robust entrepreneurial culture are vital parts of our continued success. We are honored to serve faculty, staff and students across the University of Tennessee’s campuses and institutes, and we look forward to reaching new heights in 2022.
Stacey S. Patterson, Ph.D. UTRF President
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UTRF is proud to support innovations from across the University of Tennessee System. In addition to the expected STEM submissions, recent disclosures have come from UT’s Facility Services, Department of Theater, College of Social Work, UTIA-Extension, School of Music and College of Architecture and Design, showcasing the wide range of translational research happening across the state.
How a local partnership created a new solar charging technology for robotic mowers UT Knoxville Turf Manager Matthew Layne sought to solve a problem at work and ended up co-inventing a patent-pending, solar-powered charging station for robotic lawnmowers called Powershed. When Matthew noticed a maintenance challenge at work, he searched for a small robotic mower equipped with a solar charging station but discovered this solution did not exist. Matthew reached out to local solar companies in hopes of finding a partner to make the product he envisioned and connected with a Knoxville company, Solar Alliance. Matthew connected with Harvey Abouelata, vice president of commercial solar, and Jon Hamilton, general manager, and within a few months the team invented Powershed, transforming Matthew’s initial idea into a working product that was installed on UT’s campus. The Powershed charging station is ideal for campuses, public parks, athletic fields and golf courses, incorporating a solar photovoltaic module into the structure of the charging station which simplifies the operation and allows Powershed to run without tethering to a power grid. The team of inventors began discussing the possibility of patenting the solar charging station when they recognized the wide range of applications the technology could offer. In mid-2020, UTRF filed a provisional patent application for Powershed. By September 2020, Solar Alliance had signed a commercial license agreement with UTRF to develop and sell Powershed. The product is currently available through commercial distribution partners and direct sales. It is designed to meet demand through a scalable production model and Solar Alliance plans to pursue the possibility of sub-licensing to robotic lawnmower manufacturers as demand increases. “Matthew is a great example of an inventor who identified a problem and quickly worked toward a solution,” said UTRF Vice President Maha Krishnamurthy. “UTRF is proud to partner with forward-thinking UT innovators, like Matthew, and local partners, like Solar Alliance, to advance technologies with commercial potential and positive future impact.” 6 | UTRF DISCOVER 2021
Above: Matthew Layne Below: The team with the Powershed
VETERINARY SOCIAL WORK
Exploring the importance of human-animal relationships Veterinary Social Work (VSW) is a growing area of social practice that focuses on human-animal relationships. UT’s VSW program began in 2002 as a collaboration between the Colleges of Social Work and Veterinary Medicine. In 2013, Elizabeth Strand, founding director of VSW at the College of Veterinary Medicine, created and launched the VSW Certificate Program, which focuses on four unique areas of the field: compassion fatigue and conflict management; link between human and animal violence; animal-assisted interventions; and animal-related grief and bereavement. “VSW deals with an issue that is important to a lot of people, but we don’t always recognize it,” says Bethanie Poe, who serves as the VSW certificates coordinator. “For example, somebody who is older and needs to go to a nursing home but won’t because of their dog. Or someone who is unhoused and would like to go to a shelter, but they won’t, because the shelter won’t take their dog. We still have a long way to go in recognizing these issues.” The VSW certificate program consists of online modules, group supervision sessions, online workshops and a 250-hour service-learning project. In April 2021, Strand filed an invention disclosure with UTRF to help license her online modules to other universities. Above: Bethanie Poe Right: Veterinary Social Work Infographic
ANTHOLOGY FOR STRINGS
Bringing voice to historically underrepresented composers
In the UT Knoxville School of Music, Hillary Herndon, professor of viola, is working alongside three other School of Music String Faculty members – Evie Chen, Jon Hamar and Wesley Baldwin – to catalog and create a series of pedagogical books and anthologies of repertoire for solo and ensemble strings by composers who are historically underrepresented in the current canon of Western Classical Music. Herndon says the project is important for both music teachers, who don’t have the time or funds to track down hard-to-find pieces for their students, and the students themselves. “I think we’re missing a broad awareness of other voices,” says Herndon. “To be able to expose kids at a younger age gives them a broader view of what music is and hopefully keeps them interested. It speaks to kids who are from similar demographics or cultures as the composers and lets them know there is a place for them here.”
Professors Hillary Herndon and Jon Hamar
In 2020, the team received a grant from the Sphinx Venture Fund to create, print and distribute 300 copies each of beginning-level repertoire for viola, cello, bass, violin, and a string ensemble. Beyond this initial print, UTRF is helping them find partners for intermediate and advanced versions. UTRF DISCOVER 2021 | 7
3D PRINTING TO FIGHT COVID-19
Applying architectural expertise to 3D printing for personal protective equipment Maged Guerguis is an assistant professor of design and structural technology and McCarty Holsaple McCarty Endowed Professor in the College of Architecture and Design at UT Knoxville. He is also director of the Soft Boundaries Lab. Guerguis partnered with UTRF on two projects: a 3D-printed face shield and a 3D-printed construction system. To combat the shortage of personal protective equipment for medical professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Guerguis designed a 3D-printed face shield, “UT-Shield,” that was comfortable and provided additional protection. The face shield was donated to healthcare workers during the pandemic. Later that year, he partnered with Uday Vaidya, UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Advanced Composite Manufacturing, to make 50,000 injection-molded face shields. “The goal of designing the face shield was to create something protective and more comfortable that could take some stress off healthcare workers facing danger on a daily basis,” says Guerguis. “It was truly such a privilege working with Uday. His leadership and the outstanding team has made a project with this magnitude possible.”
WORK IN MY LAB ADDRESSES THE CHALLENGES FACING DESIGNERS STRIVING TO CREATE A SUSTAINABLY BUILT ENVIRONMENT. HOW CAN WE HAVE THE LEAST IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT WHILE PROMOTING A NEW APPROACH TO RESILIENCY? MAGED GUERGUIS, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF DESIGN UT KNOXVILLE 8 | UTRF DISCOVER 2021
Earlier this year, Guerguis filed an invention disclosure for a 3D-printed construction system in an effort to revolutionize longstanding conventional construction methods that have negative environmental and financial impacts on the U.S. economy. His proposed technology will be the first step toward a novel, fully integrated robotic fabrication approach to construction driven by the material economy and has the potential to transform the current construction practices. “Whether we realize it or not, architecture and construction have a significant impact on the environment,” says Guerguis. “Work in my lab addresses the challenges facing designers striving to create a sustainably built environment. How can we have the least impact on the environment while promoting a new approach to resiliency?”
Above: Maged Guerguis in his lab Below: Guerguis’ UT Shield prototype
TUMMY TIME TRAINING
Using occupational therapy to improve infant development One University of Tennessee researcher explores how a lack of tummy time, which is an important part of healthy infant development, can impact fine motor, social and emotional skill development later in childhood. She created an innovative new system to help children gain these essential skills and enjoy tummy time in the process. Anne Zachry is chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Memphis. Before joining UTHSC in 2013, Zachry practiced as a pediatric occupational therapist for over 20 years. Her research has primarily focused on tummy time and its impact on development, leading to the creation of the Tummy Time Trainer system for infants. Unlike other similar products on the market, Zachry’s trainer does not use prop pillows but involves two removable, form-fitting foam wedges positioned at a slight incline and a play wedge outfitted with developmentally stimulating multi-sensory toys and baby-safe mirrors. In 2021, UTRF awarded Zachry a Maturation Grant to help develop and test the Tummy Time Trainer. As a primarily one-woman operation, Zachry has used the funds to purchase supplies to make 25 Tummy Time Trainers for her pilot study, provide incentives for her study’s parent participants, and bring on a work-study student to help with the research. She jokingly referred to her home as an “assembly line” where she makes each of the products herself. “If I hadn’t been with UT, I don’t know that I would have even pursued moving forward with this product,” Zachry said. “UTRF has been great. This is a little different than most of the technology they bring forward, but they have encouraged me and walked me through everything I need to know about the commercialization process.” Zachry is currently making modifications to her original Tummy Time Trainer based on feedback from her study’s parents. Additionally, the entrepreneurship-based 2021 Memphis Scipreneur Challenge competition included her technology, with participants creating a business plan and pitching her product in the final pitch competition. “Dr. Zachry has drawn on the strengths of her profession and her own personal experience to meet a need in the marketplace,” said Lakita Cavin, UTRF senior staff attorney at the UTHSC office. “Her invention has the potential to address a serious issue in the development of young children, and we look forward to working with her to commercialize the technology.” Above: Anne Zachry Below: Zachry giving a presentation
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SENIOR DESIGN PROJECTS The University of Tennessee Research Foundation was a proud sponsor of three UT senior design projects from the Tickle College of Engineering Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering (MABE) for the 2020-2021 school year. Under UTRF’s sponsorship this year, three student teams worked closely with faculty mentors, project managers and UTRF licensing staff to design and build preliminary prototypes based on project proposals. Project managers included Matthew Layne, UT Knoxville turf manager; Kyley Dickson, associate director of the Center for Athletic Field Safety at the UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA); and Professor John Sorochan from the Department of Plant Sciences at UTIA.
I THINK THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE IN THESE PROJECTS IS FANTASTIC. THEY GET AN OPEN PROBLEM TO SOLVE THAT HAS REAL COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL, AND THEY GO AFTER IT. MATTHEW MENCH, DEAN OF THE TICKLE COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND FORMER MABE DEPARTMENT HEAD
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1 NO DRIFT CHEMICAL APPLICATOR ACCESSORY FOR COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE BACKPACK MANAGED BY MATTHEW LAYNE
Layne’s project seeks to combat spray drift damage, which is a significant weed management challenge in the landscaping industry. Layne worked with MABE students to create a device that allows users to exchange a normal spray wand off of a backpack sprayer for a no-drift chemical applicator. The roller allows workers to directly apply herbicide to surfaces and limit spray damage. UTRF is currently working with an industry partner to commercialize the project’s prototype.
2 MICRO AGRICULTURAL MOWER CO-MANAGED BY KYLEY DICKSON AND JOHN SOROCHAN
This project seeks to improve soil health, decrease the use of pesticides and decrease labor in the food production industry through the creation of a small, automatic mower.
PORTABLE ROTATIONAL TRACTION DEVICE
CO-MANAGED BY KYLEY DICKSON AND JOHN SOROCHAN
The Portable Rotational Traction Device tackles rotational traction challenges with a proposed device that will more accurately collect rotational traction information on sports playing surfaces. UTRF DISCOVER 2021 | 11
UTRF BY THE NUMBERS UTRF PROVIDES TECH TRANSFER SERVICES TO FACULTY, STAFF & STUDENTS SYSTEMWIDE
$393+ M TOTAL FIVE YEAR IMPACT
FY21 LICENSES & AGREEMENTS*
ACTIVE STARTUP COMPANIES FY21
ACTIVE TECHNOLOGY LICENSES FY21
*An all-time UTRF high
CAPITAL RAISED BY UTRF AFFILIATED COMPANIES
WHOLLY OWNED SUBSIDIARIES FINANCIAL IMPACT TO UT
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INVESTMENTS IN PATENT PROTECTION
RESEARCH CONTRACTS DUE TO LICENSED IP
$3.8M PAID TO UT INVENTORS
PAID TO UT COLLEGES AND DEPARTMENTS
DISCLOSURES SUBMITTED IN FY21
LICENSES/OPTIONS OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS
*UTK disclosure numbers encompass data for UTK, UTIA and UTSI
STARTUP LICENSES OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS
LICENSE REVENUE OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS
UTRF PATENT PORTFOLIO Numbers representative of FY21 period
PATENTS FILED OVER FIVE YEARS
PATENTS ISSUED OVER FIVE YEARS
PATENTS FILED IN FY21
PATENTS ISSUED IN FY21
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STARTUPS STARTUPS STARTUPS STARTUPS STARTUPS STARTUPS STARTUPS STARTUPS STARTUPS STARTUPS & SIGNIFICANT UPDATES 14 | UTRF DISCOVER 2021
UTRF IS COMMITTED TO SUPPORTING THE ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITY ACROSS TENNESSEE AND PROVIDING INNOVATORS WITH RESOURCES AS THEY DEVELOP THEIR IDEAS AND STARTUPS.
a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on providing diagnostics and therapeutics for patients with systemic amyloidosis, a life-threatening condition caused by the accumulation of amyloid fibrils in multiple organs. Attralus continues to develop cell therapies targeting phagocytosis of amyloid deposits and peptide-based immunotherapies; currently, there are no other diagnostics or therapeutics for amyloidosis. Professor Jonathan Wall and his team at the UT Graduate School of Medicine have spent over 20 years investigating systemic amyloidosis. Their work played an integral role in helping launch Attralus with technology licensed from UTRF. Attralus has sponsored over $750,000 in research funding at UT over the last two years. They closed $116 million in Series B financing in September 2021 in addition to the $25,000 in Series A financing last year.The financing, led by venBio Partners in San Francisco, will allow Attralus to further validate its pan-amyloid imaging agent and advance two therapeutic candidates into clinical development. Professor Jonathan Wall and his research team
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a UTRF licensee, is an oncology biopharmaceutical company with a primary focus on developing novel medicines for the management of prostate and breast cancer. Recently, the company enrolled its first patient in Enobosarm Phase III trials for metastatic ER+/HER2- breast cancer in women who have failed other treatments. Additionally, Veru Inc. has shown Phase II success in treating ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) associated with COVID-19 using the small molecule drug Sabizabulin, which originated from a collaboration between the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Ohio State University and GTx. Statistically significant data from the Phase II clinical study shows an 81% relative reduction in death or respiratory failure at day 29 and an 82% relative reduction in patient mortality versus placebo. Veru Inc. is currently in preliminary discussions with BARDA about a federal contract for scale-up manufacturing.
founded in 2012, uses a patented platform technology developed by John Cromwell, previously with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Cromwell now serves as Entac Medical’s chief technical officer and medical officer. The company develops noninvasive devices for predictive and diagnostic medicine. Their product PrevisEA is a small, noninvasive device that attaches to a patient’s abdomen post-surgery to detect a specific biomarker correlated with the development of gastrointestinal impairment (GII). GII is acute paralysis of the GI tract that may develop two to seven days following significant abdominal surgery. This paralysis occurs in roughly 25 percent of patients, increasing the risk of readmission. PrevisEA seeks to predict GII using audio predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, thereby allowing surgeons to customize postoperative care.
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ANALYST PROGRAM UTRF’s internship program offers valuable career experience to UT law students, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers interested in the commercialization process of innovations. Interns in UTRF’s Commercialization Analyst Program work closely with our technology managers to understand the progression of innovations from initial discovery to commercial product. This internship approach merges science with law, business development and entrepreneurship. Interns have an opportunity to evaluate intellectual property, conduct market and industry analyses, develop marketing materials, and do targeted marketing.
UTRF has allowed me to explore new areas of business, marketing and commercialization, which were areas that I had not had the chance to discover yet. No matter where I end up later in life, this internship has been a valuable learning experience that I will use as I navigate my career. MEGHAN ALDERSON J.D. CANDIDATE, CLASS OF 2023
Through my time at UTRF, I have been able to further explore my passion for technology as it relates to a career in law. This opportunity has opened my eyes to different career paths and has cemented my love for intellectual property. I have gained valuable interpersonal and professional experiences along with being introduced to a wide array of new technologies, innovation and technical disciplines. ALEX GAMBINO J.D. CANDIDATE, CLASS OF 2023
I attended a meeting about the UTRF internship in my first year because it sounded fascinating and it turned out to be as interesting as I imagined, and also a lot of fun! As an intern, I had the opportunity to work directly with UTRF staff on innovative technologies and learn how those technologies make their way through the different steps toward patent protection and licensing. This has been a great experience for me that I would highly recommend to any student considering a career in IP or tech transfer. SARAH BETH CAIN J.D. CANDIDATE, CLASS OF 2023
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1. Vice President Richard Magid hosted multiple Tech Talks, both in-person and virtually, including “Startups 101 for Researcher Entrepreneurs” and “Q+A With UTHSC Faculty Entrepreneurs”. 2. UTRF staff members attended the new UT Knoxville Faculty Meet and Greet. 3. Senior Staff Attorney Lakita Cavin and Technology Manager James Parrett networked with potential interns at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. 4. UTRF assisted Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development (ORIED) and UT Knoxville researchers with preparation and marketing materials for the TechConnect Conference. 5. Researchers Lino Costa (UTSI) and Hicham Ghossein (UTK) represented UT at the TechConnect Conference and received the award for Low Cost Carbon Application for Lightweight Applications. 6. UTRF partnered with UT Knoxville Haslam College of Business to host the NSF I-Corps regional workshop, with UTRF Vice President Maha Krishnamurthy, Associate Technology Manager Gregory Sechrist, Assistant Commercialization Manager Robyn Geron, and Technology Manager Kusum Rathore attending. Krishnamurthy presented during the workshop. This workshop’s cohort contained 18 teams, including seven UT teams and four teams based on UT intellectual property. 7. Senior Staff Attorney Lakita Cavin and Technology Manager Kusum Rathore hosted a Tech Talk called “Technology Transfer is Not Just Patents” which addressed methods of protecting intellectual property beyond patents. 8. The team at the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a UTRF affiliate, received the 2021 Organizational Excellence award at The Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX). 9. Vice President Maha Krishnamurthy attended the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of Three Roots Capital. 10. UTRF licensee 490 Biotech was awarded the first Tom Ballard Innovation Award by PYA. 11. Vice President Maha Krishnamurthy met with UT Institute of Agriculture Extension Dean Ashley M. Stokes and presented to over 100 UTIA Extension researchers at their monthly Y’All Call. 12. Technology Manager Kusum Rathore presented to undergraduate students on the “Basics of Tech Transfer.” 13. Vice President Maha Krishnamurthy and Associate Technology Manager Gregory Sechrist visited with UTSI researchers and administrators at Tullahoma and attended their faculty meeting. 18 | UTRF DISCOVER 2021
UTRF is a founding member of the Innov865 Alliance, a collaborative effort developing, supporting and promoting the Knoxville entrepreneurial ecosystem. We help host Startup Day, a Knoxvillearea pitch competition featuring presentations from various entrepreneurs.
At this year’s Startup Day, three out of the six pitchers were UTRFaffiliated companies, including: • Endeavor Composites, presented by Hicham Ghossein (pictured with UTRF team, top right square)
• Summitt Performance Testing, presented by John Sorochan (bottom right square)
• Sentinel Devices, presented by Forrest Shriver (bottom left square) UTRF DISCOVER 2021 | 19
AT THE LOCAL LEVEL BUSINESS INCUBATOR
A practical resource for developing UT-affiliated startups UTRF offers budding entrepreneurs with UT-affiliated technology a unique supportive resource, the Business Incubator. Currently, it houses nine companies, each on the cutting edge of technology in their respective fields. From providing financial consulting and technology solutions to developing a non-flammable substitution for batteries and from creating 3D orthopedic joint models to partnering with the University of Tennessee’s Tickle College of Engineering, each company offers its unique and diverse work to the successful history of the Business Incubator.
ENTREPRENEUR-IN-RESIDENCE Providing mentorship for startups UTRF hosts Entrepreneur-In-Residence Chris West, who serves as a business mentor and commercialization advisor for University of Tennessee Health Science Center researchers. His goal is to help translate their innovations into commercial products or startup companies. A former executive in the healthcare industry, West brings over 20 years of experience in tactical and strategic marketing for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to his role at UTRF. His specific areas of focus include pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices. 20 | UTRF DISCOVER 2021
TECHSTARS Creating a more robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in East Tennessee In a groundbreaking new partnership, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee System and the Tennessee Valley Authority commissioned Techstars, a global platform for investment and innovation, to bring its Industries of the Future Accelerator to the Knoxville region and help develop the area’s existing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Together, the organizations have committed to support 30 developing tech companies in three years. The Knoxville-area Techstars organization will primarily focus on supporting startups developing deep technologies. Specifically, the Industries of the Future Accelerator supports and develops startups focused in these industries: • Artificial intelligence • Advanced manufacturing • Quantum information science • 5G/advanced wireless technology • Biotechnology • Clean energy technology Left to right: Cortney Piper from Piper Communciations; TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash; UT President Randy Boyd; ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. Photo courtesy of Knox News.
UT CHATTANOOGA INTRODUCES COMMERCIALIZATION COUNSELOR Jennifer Skjellum assists UTC campus innovation The University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) recently introduced Jennifer Skjellum as its campus commercialization counselor. Working in partnership with the staff of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Jennifer promotes, encourages and assists with intellectual property and research commercialization activities on the UTC campus. Because research has shown that scientists who are connected to other researchers, industry or community are more likely to engage in entrepreneurial activities, Skjellum’s goal is to ensure that every researcher at UTC pursuing commercialization or entrepreneurship has access to valuable resources. She answers questions about intellectual property and counsels faculty who have submitted or plan to submit invention disclosures. Skjellum also hosts workshops, develops programming and encourages interdisciplinary collaboration. UTRF DISCOVER 2021 | 21
MATTHEW LAYNE TURF MANAGER (UTK) Matthew Layne, Turf Manager for the University of Tennessee Knoxville, is the co-inventor of Powershed, a patent-pending robotic mower equipped with a solar-powered charging station. This invention is designed to tackle complicated mowing challenges.
DR. RYAN GINDER RESEARCH ASSISTANT PROFESSOR DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL, AEROSPACE, & BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING (UTK) Dr. Ryan Ginder is a composites researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering. With an extensive background in material science and engineering, Ginder is working to develop recycling within the composites industry, particularly for glass fiber.
DR. TONY SKJELLUM DIRECTOR OF UTC SIMCENTER, PROFESSOR OF COMPUTER SCIENCE & ENGINEERING (UTC) Dr. Tony Skjellum’s expansive 30-year career in high-performance computing and cybersecurity is an immense asset for the Computer Science and Engineering Department at UTC. Throughout his career, he has always been interested in finding ways to use computers to solve large-scale problems.
DR. ANNE ZACHRY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR & DEPARTMENT OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY CHAIR (UTHSC)
Chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at UTHSC, Anne Zachry has served as a pediatric occupational therapist for over 20 years. Zachry’s research focuses on using occupational therapy to improve child and infant development. She developed the Tummy Time Trainer system for infants, which received a Maturation Grant from UTRF in 2021.
SPOTLIGHT Each month, UTRF highlights the work of an outstanding UT inventor to encourage and support the faculty members who commercialize their innovations. 22 | UTRF DISCOVER 2021
DR. ANDY PULTE DEPARTMENT OF PLANT SCIENCES (UTIA) Andy Pulte is a distinguished lecturer and director in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. He is also an internationally certified arborist. In addition to his full-time teaching load, Pulte has been working on ornamental plant breeding for years at multiple breeding sites across the region through a partnership with the UT Gardens.
DR. SOUBANTIKA PALCHOUDHURY DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AND CHEMICAL ENGINEERING (UTC) Soubantika Palchoudhury, formerly an assistant professor of chemical engineering at UTC, co-founded the agri-tech startup S&J Nanochemicals in 2020 based on technology created at UTC. Her research focuses on nanochemistry, which she uses as a tool in biomedical, energy and agricultural applications. In her lab, Palchoudhury developed a micronutrient-based, sustainable nanofertilizer that is applied to seeds during the pre-germination stage and results in enhanced plant growth.
DR. JAMES DALE DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES (UTHSC) James Dale is the Gene H. Stollerman professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He has dedicated much of his 36-year career to designing, developing and clinically testing streptococcal vaccines. He is internationally known for his group A streptococcus (GAS) research and has been developing StreptAnova, a multivalent GAS vaccine, since the early 2010s.
DR. JAMIE COBLE DEPARTMENT OF NUCLEAR ENGINEERING (UTK) Jamie Coble is an associate professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at UT, assistant department head for Undergraduate Studies and Service, and Southern Company Faculty Fellow. Her research falls under the broad category of instrumentation and controls, where she specifically focuses on empirical modeling methods for process equipment monitoring and anomaly detection and diagnostics/prognostics in nuclear power plants.
DRS. TREVOR MOELLER & LINO COSTA DEPARTMENTS OF MECHANICAL AND AEROSPACE ENGINEERING AND ENGINEERING SCIENCE MATERIALS SCIENCE & ENGINEERING (UTSI) Lino Costa is a research assistant professor who specializes in laser materials processing, nanomaterials and materials science and characterization. Trevor Moeller is the graduate programs director and an associate professor at UTSI. His research interests include rocket propulsion, electric propulsion devices, high-temperature gases and electromagnetic acceleration. Moeller and Costa have been with UTSI for over 16 years; recently, they have collaborated to develop a novel electric micro-propulsion technology: Micro Scalable Thrusters for Adaptive Mission Profiles in Space.
DR. NAWAJES MANDAL DEPARTMENT OF OPHTHALMOLOGY AND DEPARTMENT OF ANATOMY & NEUROBIOLOGY (UTHSC) Nawajes Mandal is a professor of Ophthalmology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, and Pharmaceutical Sciences and assistant director of Research in Ophthalmology at UTHSC. Mandal also has an appointment with Memphis VA Medical Center as a research health scientist. His research interest is in lipids, specifically sphingolipids in the eye and other inflammatory and neurodegenerative conditions.
AUTM AWARDS for COVID-19 contributions UT contributions were recognized by AUTM’s Better World Project, which named UTRF as the 2020 Legend Award honoree
UTRF recently received the 2020 Legend Award and was spotlighted for its work on Gene Pool Innovations for its role in moving academic research from the lab to the marketplace by AUTM’s Better World Project. Researchers Michael Whitt and Peter Tsai both received awards from AUTM for their outstanding contributions to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Whitt, associate dean and chair of medical education at the College of Medicine and professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry at the University Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Memphis, received the national honor “Spotlight on Gene Pool Innovations” from AUTM for his VSV screening platform. His reverse genetics system, developed in the 1990s, uses the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) to allow researchers to study highly dangerous viruses, such as SARSCoV-2, in standard biosafety level-2 laboratory containment measures. UTRF entered into nonexclusive licensing agreements to make the VSV reagents widely available. This allowed Moderna and many others around the world to use Whitt’s technology to test neutralizing antibodies without having to handle the dangerous SARS-CoV-2 virus. SARS-COV-2
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With demand for Whitt’s technology steadily increasing, UTRF was determined to speed up access to the VSV platform. As UTRF, UTHSC, and Moderna entered discussions to provide the company with access to materials, Whitt’s expertise in generating pseudotyped viruses, and the rights to commercial use, Lakita Cavin, UTRF’s senior staff attorney, recognized that she could construct a single hybrid agreement to replace three separate documents and hasten the process. Combining the material transfer, IP licensing, and research service agreements into a single document, Cavin made sure that Moderna had the tools they needed to push vaccine development.
UTRF was named the 2020 Legend Award Honoree by AUTM’s Better World Project for its role in facilitating the proliferation of the N95 mask, developed from Tsai’s technology. Tsai is the architect behind the critical technology in N95 respirators and a retired professor from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UT Knoxville’s Tickle College of Engineering. He Peter Tsai has a 25-year-long partnership with UTRF that includes 12 U.S. patents and more than 20 commercial license agreements. Tsai came out of retirement to share his expertise with many companies interested in producing his charged nonwoven fabric or in scaling up production. This year, UTRF connected Tsai and his research to a large number of facilities around the world.
AUTM’S RECOGNITION OF DR. PETER TSAI AND DR. MICHAEL WHITT EMPHASIZES THE HIGH-CALIBER RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY COMING OUT OF THE UT SYSTEM. STACEY PATTERSON, UTRF PRESIDENT
ADDITIONAL COVID-RELATED PROJECTS
FarmSpace Systems (FSS), a veteran-led small business in Tennessee, has been awarded a $400,000 contract from the Department of Homeland Security for the development of a COVID screener based on hyperspectral imaging. Based on its achievement of certain milestones, the award could grow up to $800,000. The COVID finder project will move to a new startup, Ensensys, in 2022.
The Covid Whistle, a simple and inexpensive at-home breath collector meant to replace swabbing, has begun its clinical trial in drive-through sites in Shelby County. Similarly, other uses for the whistle are under testing, including strep testing and other non-pandemic uses. UTRF DISCOVER 2021 | 25
MATURATION GRANT RECIPIENTS MICHIO KUROSU Our annual maturation grant program aims to assist researchers in advancing new technologies on the path to market by awarding up to $15,000 in direct costs to the highest ranking proposals. The program is open to researchers, faculty, staff and students across the University of Tennessee System.
UTK, Tickle College of Engineering Dept. of Nuclear Engineering
UTHSC, College of Health Professions Dept. of Occupational Therapy
A Compact and Non-Intrusive Anomaly Detection Device for Digital Industrial Assets
T.J. HOLLINGSWORTH UTHSC, College of Medicine Dept. of Opthalmology Amelioration of Retinal Degeneration in Mouse Models of Retinal Dystrophy using Pro-Inflammatory Pathway Inhibition
HONGSIK CHO UTHSC, College of Medicine Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery & Biomedical Engineering Development of Thermosensitive Nanosomes for Osteoarthritis
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UTHSC, College of Pharmacy Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences Proof-of-Pharmaceutical Concept Studies: In Vivo Evaluation of a Novel DPAGT1 Inhibitor, APPB, using Orthotopic Tumor Models
RYAN GINDER UTK, Tickle College of Engineering Dept. of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering
True Tummy Time Mat and Wedge System
Recycling of Wind Turbine Blades into Nonwoven Composites for Fuel Cells
NATHAN BRADY & BARRY BRUCE
FLOYD OSTROWSKI AND STUDENTS IN THE HEATH INTEGRATED BUSINESS AND ENGINEERING PROGRAM
UTK, College of Arts and Sciences Dept. of Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology LEAPh Biosystems Protein Prep Scale-Up
CALEB RUCKER AND JAKE CHILDS UTK, Tickle College of Engineering Dept. of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering Modular Soft Robot Grippers Using Concentric Precurved Bellows
UTK, Tickle College of Engineering Dept. of Industrial & Systems Engineering External Leg Fixator Leg Rest (ELF)
SOUBANTIKA PALCHOUDHURY UTC, College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) Dept. of Civil and Chemical Engineering HemX Nanofertilizers for Enhanced Agricultural Production
issued patents 10,722,662 Apparatuses, Systems and Methods for Detection of Tampering 10,722,680 Apparatuses, Systems and Methods for Detection of Tampering 10,738,202 Porous Thermally Insulating Compositions Containing Hollow Spherical Nanoparticles 10,760,148 Additive Manufacturing Methods Using Aluminum-Rare Earth Alloys and Products Made Using Such Methods 10,760,169 Bioelectrochemical Biorefining For the Conversion of Hydrogenous Matter to Hydrogen Gas and Other Useful Products 10,809,753 Real-Time Simulator and Controller of Power System Using Distributed Data Streaming Server 10,806,719 Selective Androgen Receptor Degrader (SARD) Ligands and Methods of Use Thereof 10,806,720 Selective Androgen Receptor Degrader (SARD) Ligands and Methods of Use Thereof 10,807,888 Carbon Electrodes Based Capacitive Deonization for The Desalination of Water 10,838,083 Alkali and Alkaline Earth Halides and Methods Thereof PP 32,468 Cornus Florida Tree Named ‘Erica’s Appalachian Sunrise’ 10,836,678 High-Performance Concrete Mix for Precast Wythes 10,849,873 Non-Invasive Method of Evaluating Breast Cancers for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) Therapy 10,865,184 Selective Androgen Receptor Degrader (SARD) Ligands and Methods of Use Thereof 10,869,712 System and Method for High Frequency Leakage Reduction Through Selective Harmonic Elimination in Electrosurgical Generators
10,873,184 Power Electronics Converter Based Reconfigurable Grid Emulation Platform
PP 32,706 Cornus Kousa Tree Named ‘Melissa’s Mountain Snowfall’ 10,875,960 Silane-Modified Polyester Blends and Methods of Preparation 10,884,023 Test Fixture for Observing Current Flow Through a Set of Resistors 10,884,042 Power System Inertia Estimation Using Synchrophasor Frequency Measurements 10,886,858 Modular Multi-Level Converter PreChargers 10,910,628 Fast Formation Cycling for Rechargeable Batteries 10,927,251
Phenol-Containing Polyester Multiphase Polymer Blend Materials
10,929,745 Method and Apparatus for Constructing a Neuroscience-Inspired Artificial Neural Network with Visualization of Neural Pathways 10,948,527 Power System Detection of Sustained Oscillations Based on Synchrophasor Frequency Measurements 10,987,334 Method of Treating ER Mutant Expressing Breast Cancers with Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMS) 10,996,347 Radiation Detector for Imaging Applications with Stabilized Light Output 11,011,936
Single-Stage Transmitter for Wireless Power Transfer
11,020,909 Methods of Producing a Cellular Structure 11,022,654 Universal Driver Systems and Methods of Operating the Same 11,028,404 Methods of Improving Mycorrhization in Plants and Genetically Modified Plants with Improved Mycorrhization 11,031,606 Reversible Bifunctional Air Electrode Catalyst for Rechargeable Metal Air Battery and Regenerative Fuel Cell UTRF DISCOVER 2021 | 27
UT researchers who submitted invention disclosures 7/01/2020- 6/30/2021
Douglas Aaron Heba Abdelgaffar Nour Abdoulmoumine Hassan Almoazen Parker Alperin Ibrahim Abdullah S. Altarjami Suresh Babu Kevin Bai Wesley Baldwin Shafer Beary Charles Beasley Bapi Bera Sarah Boggess Misagh Mansouri Boroujeni Anthony Bova Pranay Boyapati Robert Burns Michael Burnside Jonathan Boyd Weston Michael Bracey
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Nate Brady Adam Lee Brooks Jamie Browning Barry Bruce Jeremy Bruce Valeria Lopes Caitar Brian Canfield Vinit Chaudhary Chang Chen Guoyun Chen Ruirui Chen Hongsik Cho Melissa Clasby Timothy Clements Alissa Coleman Julio Cordero-Morales Jose Lino Vasconcelos da Costa Brian Coulter Olivia Da Ponte Mark Dadmun
Paul Dalhaimer Heath Davis Corbin M. Day Thomas Denes Madhu Dhar Vermont Dia Kyley Dickson Lei Ding Jiaojiao Dong Zhou Dong David Donovan Rafael Ferreira Dos Santos Randi Dunagan Racheal Dylewski Ammar Elhassan Lance Ellington William Scott Emert Samuel Evans Mina Fahmy Shiyu Fan Xuesong Fan Tao Fei Jacob Fischer Brad Fisher James Foster Madi Freeman Mattheus Fry Cody Fust Hao Gan Luis Romero Garcia Joe Gauspohl Debalina Ghosh Dustin Gilbert Maria Gomes-Solecki Mark Gragston Maged Guerguis Karine Guerrier Kimberly Gwinn Denita Hadziabdic-Guerry Jon Paul Hamar Timothy Hambly David Harper Karen Hasty
Ashley Haylett Qiang He Laura Heflin R. Eric Heidel Lawrence Heilbronn Geoffrey Herd Hillary Herndon Matthew Herrell Tarek Hewezi Wes Hines TJ Hollingsworth Chelsea Hooker Da Hu Yang (Young) Huang Monica Jablonski James Johnson Jeremiah Johnson William Trey Johnson III Darin Johnston Justin Jones Matthew Jones Max Jordon Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes Nam-Goo Kang Erkan Kaplanoglu Stephen Kennel Mohammad Moshahid Khan Anahita Khojandi Harry Kochat Ben Koester Le Kong Surbhi Subhash Kore Merry Koschan Phil Kreth Vijay Kumar Elana Ladd Matthew Layne
Jong-Won Lee Samuel Lee Seungsup Lee Stephan Lefcoski Bingrui Li Dingrui Li Fangxing (Fran) Li Haiguo Li Kui Li Shuai Li Wei Li Yang Li Ziwei Liang Peter Liaw Michael John Liesenfelt Jian Liu Yilu Liu Frank Loeffler Brian Long Eric Lukosi Yiwei Ma Zhongguo (John) Ma David Mandrus Halie Martin Jimmy Mays Jimmy McClure Tammy McCray Nicole McFarlane Charles Melcher Matthew Mench Wyatt Miller Swati Mishra Trevor Moeller Mohamed Moustafa Pierre-Yves Mulon Anne Murray Janice Musfeldt
Sabine Neal Steven Newby Zachary Newman Katherine Newnam Cheng Nie Mbakisya Onyango Floyd Ostrowski Joseph Owino Vincent Pantalone Kiman Park Hans Perry Elizabeth A. Phillips Matheus Pianassola Sarbottam Piya Abigale Plunk Tayebeh Pourmotabbed Theron Price Andrew Pulte
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Liang Qiao Mitch Raith Luke Randall Ishita Ray Donald Reising Ren Ren Chelsea Renfro Justin Drew Rhinehart Orlando Rios Frida Helena Roenning Anirban Roy Ben Rubera Caleb Rucker Kamalika Samanta Deepak Sapkota Saman Sargolzaei Liesel Schneider Hyeongmin Seo Tyler Sheffield Zhenglai Shen Stephen Sheriff Zachary Sims Vanshika Singh Kevin Sisco Anthony Skjellum Jenna Marie Smith John Sorochan Maurice Spurgeon Kenneth Stephenson Alex Stiles Luis Stand Stracuzzi
Elizabeth Strand Donnie Strickland Yu Su Julie Anna Summers Kaiqi Sun Yue Sun Trevor Sweatman Jingdong Tan Halil Tekinalp Alexander Terekhov Madeline Thomas Neena Thomas-Gosain
Leon Tolbert Robert Trigiano Cong Trinh Joshua Tyler Uday Vaidya John Valentine Stephanie Vanterpool Valeria Vasquez Andrea Nieto Veloza Jared Walden Jon Wall Zifan Wan Fred Wang Jingxin Wang Siqun Wang Toni Wang Weikang Wang Weitian Wang Xiaofei Wang John Anthony Ward Bradley Weaver Glenn Wetzel Jason Williams Jacob Wimmer Cameron Workman Yin Wu Zhongzhi Wu Chris Wyman Huangqing Xiao Zhiqiang Xie Yu Yan Chao-Yie Yang Darong Yang Sungwoo Yang Zhe Yang Zhenzhen Yang Ae-Kyung Yi Henry Yin Lu Yu Shule Yu Wenpeng Yu Xinrui Yuan Anne Zachry Chengwen Zhang Feng-Yuan Zhang Sicheng Zhang Wen Zhang Ximu Zhang Zhili Zhang Joy Zhao Xiaopeng Zhao Hongyu (Nick) Zhou Lin Zhu Liyan Zhu Mariya Zhuravleva
UTRF Staff Stacey S. Patterson, PhD
Richard Magid, PhD
Maha Krishnamurthy, PhD, MBA
Lakita Cavin, JD, PhD
Kusum Rathore, PhD
Gregory Sechrist, JD
James Parrett, JD, PharmD
Senior Staff Attorney
Assoc. Technology Manager
Gabriela Miu Kropaczek, PhD Asst. Technology Manager
Robyn Geron, MBA
Asst. Commercialization Manager
Samantha Jeffers, CPA
Kayleen Darrow, CAP
Teresa Cooper, CAP
Tinieka Thrailkill, MPS
Dori Miller, CAP
Senior Administrative Coordinator
Business Incubator Coordinator
UTRF BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mike Paulus, PhD
Board Chair, UT-Battelle Representative
Bradford Box, Esq.
UT Board of Trustees Representative
Brendan Boyd, PhD
External Representative, Kingsport
Deborah Crawford, PhD
UTK, Vice Chancellor for Research
Steve Goodman, PhD
UTHSC, Vice Chancellor for Research
External Representative, Knoxville UTRF DISCOVER 2021 | 31
UTRF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes
the commercialization of UT intellectual property, encourages an entrepreneurial culture, contributes to state and regional economic development, and promotes research and education to benefit the people of Tennessee and beyond.
D I S C O V E R
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Health Science Center Office
910 Madison Avenue, Suite 827 Memphis, TN 38163 Tel: 901-448-7827
600 Henley Street, Suite 211 Knoxville, TN 37996 Tel: 865-974-1882