The UI also was instrumental in conducting validation studies that made the technology commercially viable and provides economic office space at the UI BioVentures Center, she added.

Since its founding in 2004, the company has grown to 11 full-time and six cyclical employees. It introduced its second product, Apollo, last year.

Cancer drug developer Terpenoid Therapeutics was founded in 2005 when two UI faculty members joined with two former students to develop small-molecule cancer drugs for prostate cancer and brain tumors.

The founding faculty members — Raymond Hohl of the University of Iowa College of Medicine and Jeffrey Neighbors of the Department of Chemistry — previously had disclosed their discoveries to the University of Iowa Research Foundation, but had to form a company to apply for grants to further development.

“We had some really great potential products in cancer therapy and were looking to advance them past the discovery stage into development,” Hohl said.


In technology commercialization, securing money and intellectual property are key. UI helped Terpenoid and VIDA with both.

The benefits to the universities of helping commercialize discoveries are clear, according to Zev Sunleaf, interim president of the UI Research Foundation.

If a UI discovery is commercialized, funds are used to recover patent costs and the first $100,000 goes to the inventors. After that, Sunleaf said:

— 25 percent goes to the inventors

— 15 percent goes to their academic department

— 15 percent goes to their college

— 20 percent goes to the UI Office of the Vice President for Research

— 25 percent goes to the UI Research Foundation, where it helps recover patent costs for discoveries that are not licensed and commercialized.

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