Scientists celebrated for development of spinoffs and patents

    Faculty of Science researchers from across disciplines were honoured this week at the 2019 TEC Edmonton Innovation Awards.

    By Katie Willis on October 24, 2019

    From cancer treatment to the next generation of sound, Faculty of Science researchers are innovating responses to some of society's most pressing problems. And they're receiving critical acclaim for their creative approach.

    TEC Edmonton honoured six Faculty of Science researchers at this year’s Innovation Awards. As the University of Alberta’s award-winning business incubator, TEC Edmonton supports researchers with emerging companies and technologies as they enter the marketplace. In the Faculty of Science, three researchers received awards for newly patented technologies, and another three were honoured for their work in developing spinoff companies.

    Patent Award Winners

    Ratmir Derda

    Ratmir Derda, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, is changing the face of molecular discovery—this time with a focus on phage display and peptides. Phage display is a Nobel Prize-winning technology for discovery and evolution of polypeptides. It is an industry standard for development of peptide-based therapeutics and biological drugs. Derda and his team pioneered the use of chemical reactions to introduce new chemical structures into phage-displayed libraries. The newly patented method allows scientists to measure the yield of chemical reactions that modify peptides displayed on a phage. Learn more about Derda’s work and spinoff company, 48Hour Discovery.

    Dennis Hall

    In collaboration with Michael Weinfeld from the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Professor Dennis Hall from the Department of Chemistry is working to improve cancer treatment. Their newly developed technology combines two highly targeted drugs to attack cancer cells, and while neither alone may kill a cancer cell, the combination can be highly effective. The research team is focused on designing and testing new cancer drugs with the goal of providing more effective, less toxic cancer therapies. Learn more about Hall’s research.

    Richard McCreery

    Richard McCreery is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and co-founder of spinoff company Nanolog Audio. McCreery’s newly patented technology employs a clipping circuit in an amplifier that uses molecular or other tunneling junction to produce soft or hard clipping, unlocking a new spectrum of sounds. The technology has potential applications as a distortion circuit for electrical guitar signals and other electronic sounds. Learn more about McCreery and Nanolog Audio.

    Spinoff Company Award Winners

    Frederick West

    Frederick West, professor in the Department of Chemistry, has partnered with David Marchant in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry to launch new spinoff company Antibiddies Technologies Inc. The researchers have identified a new and promising class of chemical compounds for treating Zika virus and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and are now beginning to develop a drug to treat the disease. Learn more about this research.

    John Vederas

    Professor and chemist John Vederas has partnered with Gavin Oudit in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry to launch PEARKO Therapeutics Inc., a new spinoff company dedicated to developing innovative therapies for cardiovascular disease. Part of their research focuses on harnessing the power of apelin, a natural peptide that controls vascular and heart function, in both prevention and treatment of heart failure and heart attack. PEARKO's medical innovations, including apelin analogs and other therapies, aim to improve patient quality of life and prolong survival through better treatment and ultimately the prevention of heart and vascular diseases.

    David Wishart and Scott MacKay

    Tricca Technologies Inc. is a new spinoff company born out of a partnership between David Wishart, professor in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Computing Science, Scott Mackay, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences, and their colleagues in the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. The company is focused on creating point-of-care testing for specific diseases with a handheld biosensor device that detects biomarkers, supporting precise and immediate diagnoses.