INVO Newsletter
Winter 2020    
From Our Executive Director
Looking back at the last decade, Northwestern has experienced extraordinary growth in innovation and entrepreneurship and has celebrated its place as a leader among its peers.  Innovation has increasingly become part of the fabric of the entire university.  Just as the frontier of innovation constantly evolves, INVO looks to do the same through its programs and strategies in this next decade.   
To this end, we have engaged members of our Northwestern community to draft a strategic vision in innovation and entrepreneurship that can help serve as a compass for our future activities.  Faculty, students and alumni have been working hard over the last few months generating some exciting ideas that will continue to transform and expand our national and global presence.  Stay tuned to hear about our continued efforts and new initiatives.
Alicia L öffler
Associate Provost for Innovation and New Ventures
Associate Vice President for Research
Executive Director, INVO 
National Recognition of Our Inventors
Prof. Guillermo Ameer (McCormick, left) and Sir Fraser Stoddart (Weinberg, right) were named to the National Academy of Inventors. Read More.  They join a number of other Northwestern faculty from prior years:  
2018: Beth McNally, Samuel Stupp  
2017: Walter Herbst, Mark Hersam & Teresa Woodruff
2016: Thomas Meade, Joseph Moskal
2015: Tobin Marks, Antonio Facchetti
2014: Ed Colgate, Michael Peshkin & Richard Silverman
2013: Chad Mirkin & John Rogers
2012: James Conley    

Four Northwestern faculty, Profs. John Rogers (McCormick), David Cella (Feinberg), Susan Quaggin (Feinberg) and Catherine Woolley (Weinberg) have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine Read more.  
Prof. Chad Mirkin (Weinberg) received the 2020 Philip Hauge Abelson Prize which is presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to a scientist or public servant who has contributed significantly to the advancement of science in the United States Read More 
Recognition of Northwestern Innovation  

At the January 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, Northwestern startup Tanvas ( Profs. Michael Peshkin and Ed Colgate, McCormick), showcased their in-car haptic display.  Partnered with the display supplier, InnoLux, Tanvas offers a new type of haptic touchscreen that utilizes electro-adhesion as opposed to vibration, offering the ability to scale to larger displays and to save on cost.  Read More      
Epicore ( Prof. John Rogers, McCormick) and Gatorade celebrated the launch of Gx Sweat Patch at the NBA All-Star Game in Chicago, IL.   Watch Gatorade commercial
The Chicago Tribune covered
Prof. Karla Satchell (Feinberg) and her critical leadership of a US-Canada consortium focused on the coronavirus.  Read more

New 'smart skin' that transmits the feeling of touch, developed in Prof. John Rogers lab, was covered by CNN and other media outlets.  Read more
Event Highlights  

MedTech Innovator Pitch Event
February 18, 2020 
Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center, Chicago 
INVO hosted the first 2020 Medtech Innovator Pitch Event for the US Central Region.  Two Northwestern startups, Rhaeos and Sibel, were  among 30 companies selected to pitch to MedTech Innovator partners, including investors and senior medtech industry executives.

Northwestern NEXT
January 13, 2020
Northwestern San Francisco
INVO and McCormick School of Engineering  organized its 3rd annual Northwestern NEXT Reception held at Northwestern San Francisco. This year's event focused on New Frontiers in Synthetic Biology. Over 240 attendees joined featured speakers, Profs. Michael Jewett and Milan Mrksich who shared the latest innovations in the field, including sustainable chemicals, next generation materials and targeted therapeutics.    
INVO & Deerfield Commercialization Seminars
January 7-8, 2020
Bryan Sendrowski and Daniel Glass of Deerfield Management led two sessions discussing critical commercialization topics:  Commercial Market Assessment and Company Formation.  INVO and Deerfield will host future commercialization seminars in October 2020. 
Synthetic Biology Department Workshops
Nov/Dec 2019  
At the request of department faculty, INVO hosted two seminars focused on a variety of topics from IP protection to commercialization in the synthetic biology field.  Sessions highlighted best practices with respect to working with INVO and referred to case studies to highlight patent and licensing strategies.  The sessions were well-attended by the majority of faculty and many post-docs and graduate students.  Departments interested in hosting INVO workshops should contact Sonia Kim
INVO & Social Media 

Follow us on Twitter ( @INVOatNU ) where we tweet news related 
to INVO, Northwestern technologies and startups, and local entrepreneurial activities.

Connect with INVO through our group on LinkedIn. INVO will utilize this group to highlight news on Northwestern technologies that are either available for licensing or being commercialized by a startup.
Check out our new Innovation and New Ventures @Northwestern channel on YouTube for direct access to our videos.

INVO Newsletter Archives 

INVO newsletters capture key innovation and entrepreneurial activities at Northwestern. Featured news includes: faculty startup announcements, Northwestern University patenting and licensing activities, funding opportunities for inventors and entrepreneurs, and INVO events and programming focused on commercialization and entrepreneurship.

The INVO newsletter reaches the Northwestern University community, prospective licensees, investors, and others interested in groundbreaking research with commercialization potential. Access previous newsletter in our archives here.
About Us

The Innovation and New Ventures Office inspires and nurtures a culture of innovation, bridging Northwestern research with its practical use for public benefit.
Faculty Startup Milestones

Cour Pharmaceuticals ( Prof. Stephen Miller, Feinberg) reported positive Phase 2 data on its treatment for celiac disease as well as a licensing deal with Takeda that is valued up to $420M.  Read More

Cyclopure (Prof. Will Dichtel, Weinberg) announced its first commercial use of DEXSORB+ filtration products to measure and analyze groundwater for PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), known as "forever chemicals" because of their persistence in the environment and the human body.  Exposure can lead to
adverse human health effects according to the EPA.  Read More 
4C Insights ( Prof. Alok Choudhary, McC): Named as a Gartner Peer Insights Customers' Choice for Ad Tech. Read more.  Also named among Ad Age's "Best Places to Work 2020"  Read more
3 Northwestern Startups Named Built In Chicago's 50 Startups to Watch in 2020 
Rhaeos ( Prof. John Rogers, McCormick)
Actualize Therapy ( Prof. David Mohr, Feinberg)
bloXroute Labs ( Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic, McCormick)

Prof. John Roger's (McCormick) Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch and App was named South by Southwest 2020 Finalist in Wearable Tech.

Northwestern Startup Fundraising
Lilac Solutions (Prof. Chris Wolverton, McC) raised $20M in a Series A round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and MIT's The Engine fund.  Lilac is leveraging Northwestern technology that aims to make lithium extraction more sustainable.  Read More 
Aptinyx (Prof. Joseph Moskal, McC) closed $35M secondary offering to develop its brain and nervous system drugs.  Read More 
Actuate Therapeutics (Andrew Mazar and Andrey Ugolkov) raised $6.5M in a Series B-3 financing round led by Bios Partners with Kairos Ventures, DEFTA Partners, and other existing investors participating. This Series B-3 brings total funding Series B round to over $28.2M.  Read More 
CycloPure (Prof Will Dichtel, Weinberg)
raised $4M in Series B and launched a home-based water test kit to the market.  Read More 

Exicure (Prof. Chad Mirkin, Weinberg) and Allergan entered into a Collaboration, Option and License Agreement to discover and develop SNA-based treatments for hair loss disorder.  Exicure received a $25M upfront payment and up to $725M in potential milestones.  Read More
Tract Therapeutics (Prof. Joseph Leventhal, Feinberg) completed a Series A financing of $15M to complete two clinical studies and provide the infrastructure to support the trials to prevent rejection in living donor kidney transplant recipients to investigate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of regulatory cells for the treatment of moderate to Severe active Crohn's Disease refractory to conventional and/or biological therapy.  Read More 
Volexion (Prof. Mark Hersam, McCormick) received $225K for STTR Phase I award from NSF: scalable integration of graphene-enhanced coatings for high energy lithium ion battery cathodes.    
Translational Activity

NewCures is a biomedical accelerator focused on developing potential therapeutics from Northwestern research laboratories with an aim to enhance and de-risk early-stage discoveries. Current NewCures projects include:
  • Profs. Sarki Abdulkadir & Gary Schiltz: Myc Inhbitors for Cancer Therapy;
  • Prof. Richard Silverman: OAT Inhibitor for Hepatocellular Carcinoma;
  • Prof. C. Shad Thaxton: Synthetic Lipoprotein Nanoparticle for Lymphoma; and
  • Profs. Herbert Meltzer & Karl Scheidt: Positive Allosteric Modulators of the Human Serotonin Receptor 2c.
NewCures has supported faculty projects in various ways, dependent on respective project needs identified by its distinguished external advisory board.  The primary goal is to progress the project to a value inflection point that builds interest from industry and investors.  Specific areas of focus have included:
  • Medicinal chemistry efforts to optimize and generate lead compounds;
  • Assay support to screen new compounds (in collaboration with High Throughput Analysis Laboratory Core at Northwestern);
  • Safety profiling of the lead compounds;
  •   Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic (DMPK) profiles;  
  •   Preclinical in vivo safety & toxicology studies; and
  •   Pharmaceutical quality/CMC: manufacturing process method development and optimization.
Lakeside Discovery
The Joint Steering Committee of Lakeside Discovery has updated membership.  From Northwestern, JSC members include Prof. Joseph Moskal (McCormick), Dean Eric Neilson (Feinberg) and Alicia Löffler.   Jana Jensen, Peter Steelman and William Slattery represent Deerfield Management.
The work of the first Lakeside Discovery awardees continues to advance.  Profs. Elizabeth McNally and Alexis Demonbreun (Feinberg) are co-leading their project to advance pharmaceuticals for the treatment of muscular dystrophies.  Prof. Ali Shilatifard (Feinberg) is leading his project to advance pharmaceuticals to treat cancers.  The first year milestone review for these projects will be conducted in
the spring.  New projects are being evaluated for consideration.  Northwestern faculty should contact Eric Schiffhauer to discuss potential Lakeside projects. 
N.XT Fund Update
Established in 2015, the $10 MM N.XT Fund is designed to promote early stage university technologies to the next stages of commercialization. Previous N.XT Funding has provided venture investments to EnMed MicroAnalytics (2018), Yobee (2018), Preora Diagnostics (2017) and Third Coast Therapeutics (2017), as well as seed investments to ALS Therapy (2016), Volexion (2016) and Bold Diagnostics (2019). N.XT made two additional 2019 investments in Rhaeos and Azul3D.      
Rhaeos is a medical device company developed to improve the care of patients with  hydrocephalus, a chronic condition wherein cerebrospinal fluid pressure builds up in the brain. Rhaeos is based on Prof. John Roger's innovative flexible electronics- wireless sensors that use measurements of temperature and heat transfer to diagnose shunt failures.

Azul3D (Prof. Chad Mirkin, Weinberg), a manufacturing 3D printing startup, enables fast throughput and manufactures high resolution and large products on demand. Azul is founded based on Mirkin's HARP (High Area Printing Technology), a new version of stereo-lithography that converts liquid plastic into solid objects.

Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC) Accelerator Awards
The CBC Accelerator Award program is designed to support translational research and provide university researchers with  early commercial guidance. Accelerator Awards (approximately $200K/award that is milestone-based) intend to support the initial, and therefore highest risk, stage of commercially-directed research focused on the  development of a therapeutic or an associated biomarker or diagnostic. Awardees announced January 2020 were:
Prof. William Muller (Feinberg)
Project:  A Drug to Block Ischemia/ Reperfusion Injury  Following Myocardial Infarction
Prof. Karla Satchell (Feinberg)
Project : RAS Processing as a Strategy to Reduce RAS-Driven Tumors

Science to Startup (S2S) 2020
Out of 130 global applicants, Prof. Sui Huang (Feinberg) and 10 other finalists were selected present at the April 2020 S2S, an invitation-only symposium where top scientists from leading research institutions present their work to leading investors and executives in Boston.  Prof. Huang has utilized an alternative approach to identifying small molecule inhibitors of metastasis using a comprehensive phenotypic marker for malignancy.   

Equalize 2020
Equalize 2020 is a pitch competition and symposium, hosted by Osage University Partners and Washington University's Office of Technology Management, designed to address the disparity of women academic inventors in forming university startups.  In June 2020, Prof. Alexis Demonbreun (Feinberg) will present her work on genetic modifiers of muscle disease as therapeutic targets. 
INVO Numbers
FY20 INVO Metrics
(to date)

Invention Disclosures
Patent Applications
Issued Patents
Exclusive Licenses
Non-Exclusive Licenses
Exclusive Options
INVO Welcomes New Team Members    
Alexandra de Paz is the Assistant Director of New Ventures at the Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) and the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS). Previously, she worked with Nick Maull as a N.XT Fund Venture Associate where she performed due diligence on Northwestern startup companies for N.XT investment. Prior to N.XT, she completed the INVO Practicum where she evaluated patentability, marketability, and commercialization potential for new Northwestern technologies.
Alexandra also received a certificate from Kellogg's Management for Scientists and Engineers program. She is currently completing her synthetic biology-focused Ph.D. in Keith Tyo's lab at Northwestern as part of the Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences (IBiS) graduate program. Prior to joining Northwestern, Alexandra obtained a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Florida.
Kimbery Griffin joined INVO in February 2020 and works directly with Northwestern researchers to evaluate, protect, and license technologies in the life sciences an an Invention Manager. She came to INVO from the University of Chicago, where Kim was an Oncology Technology Manager. In this role, Kim worked to identify, evaluate, market, and license oncology and chemistry technologies developed at the university. Kim moved to the University of Chicago from the National Cancer Institute, where she was a Technology Transfer Manager managing the contracts, intellectual property, and licensing of a broad oncology portfolio. Kim previously spent time as an intern at Oregon Health and Science University Technology Transfer.
Kim is an active member of the Association of University of Technology Managers (AUTM) and currently volunteers on the AUTM Mentorship Committee.
Kim earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys cheering for Bay Area sports teams, hiking, and traveling.
As Director of Drug Discovery Collaboration, Eric Schiffhauer will work collaboratively with Northwestern faculty to transform innovative ideas for new therapeutics into drugs. He is passionate about connecting Northwestern faculty with resources to move projects from the lab toward a new drug application to the FDA. Eric is the primary point of contact for faculty interested in partnering with Lakeside Discovery, a collaboration between Northwestern University and Deerfield Management.

Prior to INVO, Eric served as the inaugural Entrepreneurial Fellow at the Chicago Biomedical Consortium progressing drug discovery projects within Lakeside Discovery and the broader Chicago research community at stages from target identification to lead optimization. In the past, he worked with a family office investing in promising commercialization opportunities in the life sciences, and co-founded a startup in the cell therapy space. Eric is a lead author or inventor on publications and patent applications for small-molecule approaches to novel targets in cystic fibrosis and pancreatic cancer. He has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology and a B.S. in Biology from George Mason University. 
Other INVO News

INVO now offers Online Click Licenses to facilitate non-exclusive licensing of Northwestern intellectual property.  Currently, copyrighted materials (e.g., surveys, questionnaires, etc.) are available.  INVO will expand its offering under online license format to other categories of intellectual property, such as research tools or software.  If you are a Northwestern faculty member and interested in learning more, please contact INVO.  For Northwestern click license offerings, visit here.

INVO Practicum welcomed its January 2020 cohort.  The interns (left to right) include: 
  • Michael Fiske (Feinberg PhD candidate, Prof. Gianmaria Maccaferri lab)
  • Andre Iovane (Feinberg Post Doc, Prof. Qing Chen lab)
  • Malini Rammohan (Feinberg PhD candidate, Prof. John Crispino lab)
  • Hannah McDowell (McCormick Master in Biotech, Prof. Anat Tambur lab) 
  • James Passarelli (Weinberg PhD candidate, Prof. Samuel Stupp lab)
  • Mihir Bhagat (McCormick PhD candidate, Prof. Justin Notestein lab)
  • Jeremy Wang (McCormick PhD candidate, Prof. Monica Olvera de la Cruz lab)
The Practicum is an INVO internship that offers graduate students, post-docs and research professors the opportunity to step outside the lab and gain experience in intellectual property and market analysis of technologies.  Past interns have stayed in academic research or have transitioned into positions in technology transfer, IP law, and consulting firms.  If you're interested in applying to a future cohort, visit this link . The next cohort will begin October 2020.   Applications due by September 4, 2020