State Awards Bioscience Discovery Grants for Five Colorado State University Projects

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade has awarded grants totaling $441,000 to five Colorado State University projects to further research in the biosciences.

State law adopted last year created the new Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program to accelerate the commercialization of new bioscience discoveries at Colorado research institutions. The intent of the program is to accelerate the development of new products and services.

Colorado State must match the state funds through institutional and private sources.

"These funds will assist Colorado State’s leading scientists to more quickly turn their scientific findings into products that could lead to new ventures and job creation," said Bill Farland, vice president for research at Colorado State. "One of the university’s major goals is to fully realize the potential impacts of discovery and contribute to economic prosperity."

Among the Colorado State professors receiving awards:

– William S. Dernell, veterinarian at the Animal Cancer Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, will study the impacts of sustained release of anticancer chemotherapy from a biodegradable implant made of polymer. The work will focus on breast cancer and lymph nodes, a typical site where breast cancer spreads. If successful, the device could spark additional development of similar devices to dispense treatment for other cancers and non-cancer diseases that spread to the lymphatic system.

– Randy Bartels, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, is working to develop novel forms of nonlinear optical microscopy that offer the potential to acquire images of the inside of living organisms (i.e., in-vivo imaging) with molecular specificity. The prominent application of this technology is to study Prion-based proteins. The proteins exist in healthy individuals, but if misfolded, they can cause diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), chronic wasting disease in cervids (deer and elk) and scrapie in sheep.

– Drs. Eric Monnet and Christopher Orton in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Sue James in the College of Engineering have developed a device that could correct functional mitral valve regurgitation. The device can be surgically implanted on the exterior of the heart to correct mitral valve function without the need of open-heart surgery and cardiac bypass. The team aims to test the device and further develop it so it can be implanted with minimally invasive surgery and improve the survival prognosis for patients with heart failure and functional mitral valve regurgitation.

– Christian Puttlitz, mechanical engineering assistant professor, has designed an improvement to the Caspar pin distractor – a device used to open up the space between two adjacent vertebrae during cervical spine surgery. This device is used in the most common cervical spine surgeries – anterior cervical discectomy and fusion – and holds the potential to be used during disc replacement surgeries. One of the main advantages of the device is that, during an operation, it will assist surgeons deciding whether to perform a fusion or motion-preserving operation such as disc replacement.

The Technology Transfer Office of the Colorado State University Research Foundation, or CSURF, accepted the awards on behalf of Colorado State. CSURF aids the university with intellectual property patenting and licensing management; university start-ups; equipment leasing and municipal lease administration; financing of equipment, real estate and buildings through mortgage debt obligations; and land acquisition, development and management.

"CSURF is committed to helping our researchers commercialize their discoveries as quickly as possible so that science is being transferred directly to the people who will benefit from it," said Mark Wdowik, vice president of technology transfer for CSURF. "We appreciate the state’s ongoing support of our programs."

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade offers a host of programs and services tailored to support business development including business retention and relocations services, a bioscience and emerging industries program, business finance programs like the Venture Capital Authority and CAPCO, the Colorado Tourism Office, the Colorado Council on the Arts, the Colorado International Trade Office, the Colorado Small Business Development Centers, minority- and women-owned business services and economic research.