|[March 05, 2014]
Wake Forest Team Selected as Finalist for First Breast Cancer Startup Challenge
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --(Business Wire)--
A team of Wake Forest graduate students have advanced to the finals of
the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge.
Wake Forest University students, left to right, Andy Bowline (MBA), Alison Arter (Ph.D), Kyle Murrah (Ph.D), Janel Suburu (Ph.D), John Hodnette (JD) and Gonzo Estupinan (MBA) advance as finalists in the first Breast Cancer Startup Challenge. (Photo: Business Wire)
Now the team of students from the Wake Forest University Schools of
Business, Law and Medicine and Wake Forest Innovations will put its
unique business plan to take a clinically viable breast cancer treatment
invention to market into action.
The team features second year MBA students Andy Bowline and Gonzalo
Estupinan, second year law student John Hodnette, and doctoral
candidates Alison Arter, Kyle Murrah and Janel Suburu from the School of
Medicine and Wake Forest Innovations.
The Breast Cancer Startup Challenge is the first business plan and
startup challenge featuring inventions conceived and developed by
scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Avon Foundation
for Women grantees to accelerate commercialization. Teams of business,
legal and medical/scientific students from top-ranked universities chose
one of 10 inventions to bring to market.
Two hundred teams expressed an interest in joining the challenge and 46
teams were accepted to compete on a range of business plan
possibilities. This team is the only one of five original Wake Forest
teams to move forward in the challenge. The team chose invention No. 7,
which uses virus-like particles as a platform for efficient delivery of
proteins and RNA.
"These technologies worked really well in the lab, but didn't have the
funding to make it to market. Our plan to create six small business
units as part of our company, BeSpoke Therapeutics, will allow us to
spread out the financial risk," said team leader Estupinan. "Instead of
taking one big bet, we are taking several smaller, less risky bets to
fund the company, based on milestones the technology needs to achieve.
That will hasten the timeline to bring our product to market."
The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI), the Avon Foundation and NCI,
part of the National Institutes of Health, announced the ten winners and
finalists at a news conference from 1 to 3 p.m. EST on March 5. The
event can be viewed via a live webcast at www.videocast.nih.gov.
"Today, progress in breast cancer research depends on step-change
advances in technology and on paradigm-shifting strategies to rapidly
bring these advances to market so they can be used by scientists and
physician," said Rosemarie Truman, founder and CEO, CAI. "Thanks to the
Avon Foundation and the National Cancer Institute, CAI has been able to
identify potential breakthrough technologies that harness the
intelligence, experience and creativity of the innovative thinkers in
the challenge. The challenge has exceeded expectations and we are
thrilled with the results."
As finalists, the Wake Forest team will work with a mentor to further
its business plan and work to bring new technology to market for breast
cancer patients. The startup phase of the competition begins
immediately. Teams will have until approximatly mid-June to secure
patents, seed funding and additional resources needed to develop their
"NCI has always had a strong interest in fostering young investigators
and the fact that this challenge pairs each student team with
entrepreneur-mentors to assist in the development of the business plans
is another example of how we can bring new ideas and energy to cancer
research," said Douglas Lowy, M.D., NCI deputy director.
"It's been a huge learning experience to participate in this challenge
and collaborate with business students and law students on the business
of science," said Janel Suburu, a Ph.D. candidate in cancer biology at
Wake Forest School of Medicine.
For the faculty advisors Stan Mandel, professor of practice at the
School of Business; Steve Virgil, clinical professor at the School of
Law; and Stephen Susalka, associate director, commercialization at Wake
Forest Innovations; having five teams in the competition - more than any
other institution - proves how ready Wake Forest students are.
"Across the various campuses of Wake Forest we strive to provide
real-world learning opportunities for our students," Susalka said. "The
thoughtful and efficient manner in which the School of Business, School
of Law, School of Medicine and Wake Forest Innovations were able to
quickly assemble a number of quality inter-disciplinary teams for this
Breast Cancer Startup Challenge is a testament to our goal of preparing
our students of today for the careers of tomorrow."
"I'm very honored to be part of this team of very intelligent and
motivated young people," said Hodnette, the team's legal expert. "I
think you should keep an eye on BeSpoke Therapeutics - we have the
potential to go far, with the support of everyone at Wake Forest."
"We are looking forward to start-ups launching around these inventions
to accelerate breast cancer research and break the mold of how research
is funded," said Marc Hurlbert, Ph.D. executive director, Avon
Foundation for Women. "This new approach, through our partnership with
NCI and CAI, will help translate promising inventions from the academic
laboratory to development and commercialization, and ultimately benefit
breast cancer patients."
About Wake Forest University School of Business (business.wfu.edu)
The Wake Forest University School of Business offers undergraduate
programs in finance, accounting, mathematical business, and business and
enterprise management, and graduate programs including a Master of
Business Administration, Master of Science in Accountancy and Master of
Arts in Management. Our programs are consistently ranked among the
world's best in surveys by U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Business
Week, the Economist, Forbes, and the Financial Times (News - Alert). Wake Forest MBAs
who sat for a Six Sigma green belt certification exam in 2011 and 2012
had a 100% pass rate. Wake Forest accountancy graduates earned the
highest passing rate in the nation on the CPA exam last year and have
maintained the top CPA exam pass rate among universities with accounting
programs for 11 of the past 15 years.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (wakehealth.edu)
is a fully integrated academic medical center located in Winston-Salem,
N.C. The institution comprises Wake
Forest School of Medicine, a leading center for medical education
and research; Wake
Forest Baptist Health, the integrated clinical structure that
includes nationally ranked Brenner
Children's Hospital; Wake
Forest Innovations, which promotes the commercialization of research
discoveries and operates Wake
Forest Innovation Quarter, an urban research and technology park;
plus a network of affiliated community hospitals, physician practices,
outpatient services and other medical facilities. Wake Forest Baptist
clinical programs and the School of Medicine are regularly ranked among
the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
About Wake Forest Innovations
Wake Forest Innovations (WakeForestInnovations.com)
is the commercialization enterprise of Wake Forest Baptist Medical
Center, a fully integrated, internationally recognized academic medical
center. Located in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem,
N.C., Wake Forest Innovations establishes and manages new business and
partnerships based on the innovative products and services that arise
from ideas, discoveries and the scientific research assets of the
Medical Center and Wake Forest University. The enterprise's core
services include: Product Innovation & Commercialization Services - to
stimulate the creation of innovation technology, products and services,
and to license these to existing and start-up companies; Contract
Research & Development Services - to structure, promote and contract the
scientific research capabilities and assets of the Medical Center and
Wake Forest University to partners under competitive terms; and
Innovation Quarter Services - to develop the Wake Forest Innovation
Quarter as a hub for innovation in biomedical science and information
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