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Translational Research & Entrepreneurship

Duke Engineering faculty create start-ups and file patents for new inventions

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Faculty Startups

Cameron Bass, BME

MVTrak LLC: Founded by Dr. Bass and developing an in-ear device to monitor the severity of head impact to provide information that may be used to assess and prevent concussions.

David Brady, ECE

Aqueti: Dr. Brady is CEO of Aqueti, which builds high-resolution cameras for broadcast and consumer markets and provides cloud services for high resolution media.

Centice: Co-founded by Dr. Brady, Sentice builds field laboratories for chemical analysis. Centice instruments are used by first responders in drug enforcement and security.

Applied Quantum Technologies: Provides order-of-magnitude improvements in cost, size, performance or power consumption for optical sensing systems. AQT merged with Blue Angel Optics, which Dr. Brady founded, in 2008.

Ashutosh Chilkoti, BME

PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals: Founded by Dr. Chilkoti, PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals has licensed an intellectual property portfolio related to the use of elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) for protein purification, capture, and drug delivery from Duke. To date, PhaseBio has raised ~ $65 million in venture capital funding. The company develops ELP fusions to improve the stability, bioavailability, activity and ease of administration of proteins and peptides, with the goal of achieving greater potency, fewer side effects and better patient compliance. PhaseBio has launched and completed multiple clinical trials of ELPs fused to peptide drugs for treatment of diabetes and heart disease. On October 18, 2018, PhaseBio announced the pricing for their initial public offering of 9,200,000 shares at a  price of five dollars per share for total gross proceeds of approximately $46 million. 

Sentilus: Focuses on the use of a “nonfouling” polymer brush technology developed in the Chilkoti Group for detection of protein analytes that radically departs from conventional technology. This polymer coating eliminates the largest source of assay noise—non-specific binding—and thereby maximizes signal-to-noise (S/N) in heterogeneous immunoassays. In an unusually streamlined tech-transfer deal, Sentilus, co-founded by Dr. Chilkoti, was acquired after only two years by industry giant Immucor.

BioStealth: BioStealth was born out of Sentilus technology. When Sentilus was acquired by Immucor, they returned all fields of use of the technology outside of human in vitro diagnostics. BioStealth, co-founded by Dr. Chilkoti, will develop and commercialize the nonfouling coating technology in other current areas of interest, inlcuding reasearch diagnostics and tools, veterinary diagnostics, and biomaterials.

GatewayBio: GatewayBio is focused on the design of the next generation of polymer conjugates of protein and peptide drugs that improve their efficacy.

Isolere Bio: Developing IsoTag by fusing an antibody-binding domain to a stimulus responsive biopolymer, to provide a fast and inexpensive alternative to the current “gold” standard, protein A chromatography.

Larry Carin, ECE

Signal Innovations Group (SIG): SIG, founded by Dr. Carin, created technology to interpret data and enhance the effectiveness of national defense, public safety, and commercial surveillance systems. In 2014, SIG was acquired by BAE Systems.

Infinia ML: An artificial intelligence company founded by Lawrence Carin, Infinia ML has built machine learning algorithms that help businesses and organizations make sense of big data.

Leslie Collins, ECE

New Folder Consulting: The company, co-founded by Dr. Collins, developed and distributed statistical signal processing tools for decision-making and pattern recognition.

Richard Fair, ECE

ALL, Advanced Liquid Logic: ALL was a spinoff from Richard Fair's lab at Duke. He assisted in the founding of the company, which developed and manufactured digital microfluidics-based research and diagnostic products. In 2013, ALL was acquired by Illumina, Inc., which develops life science tools and integrated systems for analyzing genes.

Ken Gall, MEMS 

Vertera Spine: Vertera Spine is based on a novel process to create porous PEEK, a high-strength biopolymer that allows for better bone attachment and repair following spinal surgery. 

Deep Blue Medical Advances: Developing a novel hernia mesh with integrated suture-like extensions that eliminates the key point of failure for conventional mesh fixation and provides superior anchor strength, to address the unacceptably high rate of hernia occurrence and recurrence.

Restor3D: Creator of 3D printed surgical implants with enhanced anatomical fit and integrative properties. 

Charles Gersbach, BME

Locus Biosciences: Locus Biosciences relies on the CRISPR-Cas system to target bacteria and destroy their DNA, enabeling the design and development of powerful antimicrobials that avoid the pitfalls of antibiotic resistance and leaves non-target bacteria unharmed. 

Element Genomics: Developing a high-throughput platform for understanding gene regulatory elements in order to identify new drug targets for common diseases – acquired by UCB in 2018 for $30 million »

Warren Grill, BME

Deep Brain Innovations (DBI): DBI’s Temporally Optimized Patterned Stimulation (TOPS) technology is being developed to deliver highly efficient and effective brain stimulation to treat neurological disorders. Dr. Grill is the founder and chief scientific officer of the company.

NDI Medical: Dr. Grill is co-founder of NDI (Neuro Device Innovations), a hybrid venture capital and commercialization firm focusing exclusively on innovative neurodevice technologies that are intended to restore lost neurological function, prevent damage and reduce the painful effects of disease and injury.

Joseph Izatt, BME

Bioptigen Inc.: Bioptigen provides leading edge optical coherence tomography imaging technology for research and clinical diagnostic markets. Dr. Izatt is co-founder, chairman and chief science advisor.  In June 2015, microscopy and imaging systems company Leica Microsystems acquired Bioptigen, Inc.

Jungsang Kim, ECE

Applied Quantum Technologies, Inc: The company, co-founded by Dr. Kim, seeks applications of optical micro-electromechanical systems in various applications, as well as novel imaging and spectroscopy instrumentation in the visible and X-ray domains.

ionQ: Dr. Kim is a co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of ionQ, a startup company seeking to create scalable quantum computers using ion traps.

Xiling Shen, BME

AccuBeing: AccuBeing is building a patient-derived screening platform to increase the precision of personalized cancer therapies to overcome drug resistance after standard chemotherapy fails, with the added goal of developing a drug response database for cancer drug discovery.

Daniel Sorin, ECE

Realtime Robotics: Developing computer processors design specifically for robotic motion planning. In the proof-of-concept microchip, the company was able to create motion plans for a robotic arm up to 10,000 times faster than existing approaches, while consuming a small fraction of the power. The technology is theoretically capable of motion planning in real-time, and could fundamentally change the way robots are programmed in manufacturing, and other industrial applications. In October 2017, the company secured $2 million in seed funding.

Jeff Krolik, ECE

Strad Corp.: The company develops signal processing technology for surveillance and sensing applications.

Michael Lynch, BME

DMC Ltd.: DMC Ltd., co-founded by Dr. Lynch, offers companies a simplified design space and tools for genetically designing microbes to efficiently produce high-value products from carbohydrate feedstocks.

David Needham, MEMS

Bio Gyali: Developed proprietary microglassification technology that gently removes water from micro droplet solutions of biologicals, like antibodies, enzymes, and therapeutic proteins. The formed microglassified beads are now protected against degradation so stabilizing the biologicals for storage, transport, and inclusion in a variety of drug delivery formulations. The technology is now in the portfolio of companies at Southeast TechInventures, Inc. (STI) in Research Triangle Park, a technology accelerator for rapid conversion of scientific breakthroughs into products, services and new technology companies.

Mark Palmeri, BME

MicroElastic Ultrasound: Founded in 2016 with support from the Coulter Translational Research Partnership, the company is currently developing a handheld device that measures the elasticity of skin for use in evaluating elective dermatoligical treatments and for tracking skin manifestations of difficult-to-manage diseases like Graft-Versus-Host disease. 

Nimmi Ramanujam, BME

Zenalux Biomedical: The goal of Zenalux, founded by Dr. Ramanujam, is to make optical spectroscopy easy for medical practitioners who are interested in real-time, non-destructive biological tissue diagnostics. Dr. Ramanujam developed the Zenalux technology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and moved to Duke to apply it in clinical settings.

David Smith, ECE

Echodyne Corp.: By creating the world’s lightest, smallest, and lowest cost high-performance electronically scanning radar, Echodyne – co-founded by Dr. Smith – wants to reinvent the way the world uses radar, from security to drone navigation and autonomous cars.

Evolv TechnologyEvolv Technology, co-founded by Dr. Smith, develops security devices for public spaces and events. The stylish, easily relocatable scanning devices may look a bit like traditional X-ray scanners, but use millimeter waves to detect threats without the need for clothing removal and can be tailored to focus on specific threat levels.

Kymeta: Founded by Dr. Smith's former graduate student Nathan Kundtz, the company leverages Metamaterials Surface Antenna Technology (MSA-T) to create satellite user terminal products. Dr. Smith is an advisory board member.

Pivotal Commware: Dr. Smith is a Member of the Technology Advisory Board of Pivotal Commware, a company focusing on using metamaterials for Holographic Beam Forming for terrestrial communication applications, which is well-suited to a wide range of mobile 4G and 5G applications, including those for ships, planes, trains, and connected cars.

Adam Wax, BME

Lumedica, Inc.: Founded in 2014 to commercialize low-cost biomedical imaging technologies developed in Dr. Wax’s laboratory. Awarded a SBIR grant in September 2016.

Oncoscope: Founded to commercialize early cancer detection technologies in the field of optical imaging pioneered by Dr. Wax, Oncoscope closed in 2015 after its technology was licensed by the publicly traded company Spectrascience.

M2 Photonics Innovations: Founded in 2010 to commercialize technologies developed in Dr. Wax’s laboratory. Participated in a Phase I STTR project aimed at developing holographic imaging technology of red blood cells for point of care diagnosis of malaria using a patented Duke technology (U.S. patent no. 8,508,746).