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U honors faculty entrepreneurs

he University of Utah is recognizing the impact of its entrepreneur- ial faculty with the prestigious new Distinguished Innovation and Impact Award (DIIA). This inaugural award was bestowed during the U’s main commencement ceremony in May 2011.


Carl Wittwer (right) and Ted Stanley

The first awardees were Theodore Stanley and Carl Wittwer, who have both made substantial contributions by taking their in- novations and research to market. Stanley is a longtime professor in the Department of An- esthesiology and is best known for develop- ing a “lollipop” for delivering painkillers, which has generated billions of dollars in sales. Wittwer is a professor in the Department of Pathology, and among his many inventions is the LightCycler, an industry standard for molecular testing.

With direction from then President Michael Young, the DIIA was created by the Entrepre- neurial Faculty Scholars, an academic orga- nization directed by Presidential Professor of Medicinal Chemistry Glenn Prestwich.

“You get what you reward,” said Prestwich.

“We recognize and reward excellence in teaching and excellence in creative and scholarly research, and this engenders respect for entrepreneurial activities. This is important because it acknowledges that the faculty are public servants with a responsibil- ity to bring the fruits of their scholarship to the people.”

The award was created through the collabo- ration of the Entrepreneurial Faculty Scholars, the president’s office, academic affairs and Technology Venture Development.

The 2010-11 winners were chosen after sev- eral months of nominations and evaluation. The decision was very difficult, Prestwich noted, because the U has a long list of faculty members who have become successful entrepreneurs.

(left) won the first faculty entrepreneur award.

Stanley became a full-time member of the Department of Anesthesiology in 1972. Since then, he and his associates have received over $10 million in funding. He has published more than 280 research manuscripts, 65 chapters and books, 220 abstracts and he has made more than 780 presentations.

Wittwer has over 180 publications that focus on technique and instrument development in molecular diagnostics. He is also a techni- cal vice president and one of the medical directors of the clinical laboratory ARUP. He is chief science officer of Idaho Technology, a company he co-founded in 1990 that now employs over 250 people.

Entrepreneurial Faculty Scholars mark successful first year Entrepreneurial Faculty Scholars

The Entrepreneurial Faculty Scholars (EFS) program, which launched in March 2010, grew out of a successful two-year pilot project, the Entrepreneurial Faculty Advisors (EFA), a group of 12 faculty entrepreneurs who had started companies and translated technology into products. This mentoring team reached out to faculty and administra- tion and began a cultural shift to recognize entrepreneurship as a scholarly activity. The EFS now has over 75 active members, repre- senting 85 percent of all colleges and schools at the University of Utah.

The central concept of the EFS is to maxi- mize ways scholarship can have a measur- able and positive impact on people’s lives. Faculty already understand how “translational research” seeks to move new technologies to the marketplace. The EFS has introduced the concept of “translational teaching,” in which faculty scholarship is directed to meeting

Meet the

educational needs of students in the real world. It also introduced “translational ser- vice,” in which helping the public understand issues revealed by our scholarship takes center stage.

University administrators have been enthu- siastic about the program, particularly the expanding of the EFS educational mission to serve the educational and career-advice needs of undergraduate and graduate students, medical students and postdoctoral associates. While many faculty entrepreneurs can be role models for students, there are many case now where student entrepreneurs are mentoring aspiring faculty entrepreneurs.

The EFS held three major events during 2010-2011:

l Enabling New Innovators was held at the Alta Club on Nov. 1, 2010, to connect new inventors with EFS members.

l The first annual University of Utah Startup Conference was held on Jan. 31, 2011, at the Fort Douglas Officer’s Club. It con- nected executives of university startup companies with entrepreneurs who are faculty (EFS, USTAR), students (Lassonde Center), and postdocs (Doctorates with- out Borders).

l The first annual Translational Medicine Workshop, held on March 14, 2011, fea- tured seven three-person panels consist- ing of invited business leaders, physicians and professionals to discuss the “problem to product” paradigm.

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