First Look Forum showcases marketable academic research

Innovators seek funding for potential startups


Seven Milwaukee-area academic researchers presented their technologies, inventions and startups at the First Look Forum held Thursday at the University Club in downtown Milwaukee.

The annual event is a collaboration among the Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation and Marquette University to present marketable research to potential investors.

Here are the seven ideas that were presented at the event:

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  • Novel Compounds for Neuropsychiatric Disorders and Trigeminal Pain: Daniel Knutson, graduate research assistant at UWM Cook Laboratory, explained a potential treatment for depression; facial nerve pain related to chewing; and central nervous system disorders such as tics, certain symptoms of schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorders.
  • Rainbow Flagella Standards for Quantitative Fluorescence Microscopy: Pinfen Yang, professor of biological sciences at Marquette University, described her development of fluorescent flagella that could be commercialized for use in fluorescence microscopy to aid in life science research and clinical diagnosis.
  • Inducible Gene Therapy Technologies for Complex Retinal Disease: Daniel Lipinski, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin, explained a gene therapy he has created to prevent the major symptoms causing vision loss in age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. A patent is pending on the technology, and Lipinski envisioned partnering with a large pharmaceutical company to advance the research.
  • HydraCore LLC presents a Novel Fluid-Filled Weighted Vest: Jessica Silvaggi, senior licensing manager at the UWM Research Foundation, presented UWM assistant athletic trainer Chad Henneberry’s patent-pending vest, which uses fluid to provide more dynamic resistance and allows health professionals to identify movement imbalances and dysfunctions in patients with chronic back pain. HydraCore is seeking $100,000 to fund tooling, production and distribution, and plans to create a startup company.
  • Advanced MRI Applications Targeting Joint Replacements and Tissue Analysis: Kevin Koch, director of the Center for Imaging Research and associate professor of radiology at MCW, presented the technology he has developed to assess failed total joint replacements using MRI when metal implant debris is present. Koch wants to license the intellectual property or create a startup company surrounding the technology.
  • Novel Material for Removal and Recovery of Phosphorus: Marcia Silva, assistant scientist/facility manager of the Water Technology Accelerator and adjunct assistant professor in the School of Freshwater Sciences at UWM, explained the filter material she has developed to reduce the effects of fertilizers on freshwater bodies, preventing environmental impacts like algae blooms. Silva is currently deploying the technology on Midwest farms and plans to license the technology.
  • Therapeutic Bacteria to Prevent Multidrug-Resistant Enterococcal Infections: Nita Salzman, professor of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology, director of the Center for Microbiome Research and Director of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Laboratory at MCW, presented research completed by her and Christopher Kristich, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at MCW. The pair developed a live bacterial therapy oral drug focused on antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could be administered to humans or agriculture animals. They are seeking collaborators and plan to license the technology.

A panel of experts responded to the presentations to give the researchers advice. They were: Lisa Johnson, chief executive officer of BioForward Wisconsin; Steve Mech, managing director of CSA Partners LLC; Paul Weiss, managing director of Venture Investors; and Edward Barthell, CEO of EmOpti.

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