The Wake Forest Technology Development Program, also known as the Catalyst Fund, is a collaborative partnership between Wake Forest University Health Sciences and Pappas Capital. The partnership was established to accelerate the development of innovative life science technologies at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, a nationally-recognized academic medical center in Winston-Salem, NC. As manager of the Catalyst Fund, Pappas Capital helps identify faculty inventions that have significant clinical and commercial potential, work with inventors to devise focused project plans, and then allocate capital to fund those plans. The aim is to accelerate the timeline for attracting licensing and risk-sharing partnerships, private sector investment, and/or complementary grant or sponsored research funding.
The Catalyst Fund was launched with a $15 million commitment to support 25 to 30 novel technologies over a four- to five-year period. While the basic model is focused on pre-license, pre-company formation translational-stage technologies, the Catalyst Fund also has the flexibility to make seed investments in its technology start-ups. Examples of projects funded by the Catalyst Fund are listed below:
PH is a group of rare genetic diseases that cause recurrent kidney stones. Catalyst is supporting two projects that are developing orally bioavailable small molecule treatments for two distinct metabolic targets involved in PH pathogenesis. The effort involves industry-caliber medicinal chemistry.
University of Alabama-Birmingham, Department of Urology; Mayo Clinic Hyperoxaluria Center; Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation
W. Todd Lowther, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Ross P. Holmes, University of Alabama-Birmingham
A TAT-frataxin fusion protein under development for the treatment of Friedreich’s ataxia and other mitochondrial protein replacement disorders. Catalyst participated in the company’s Series A equity funding round led by Deerfield Management Company.
R. Mark Payne, previously Associate Professor of Pediatrics, now at Indiana University
A novel stent technology platform with primary application in difficult-to-stent settings such as biliary duct procedures. The Catalyst-supported project goal is a commercial prototype evaluated in proof-of-concept large animal studies.
Cliff Howard, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology
Development of an antibody for a novel immune checkpoint with the potential to eradicate cancer stem cells and enhance tumor immune response in lung cancer and other cancers.
Hui Kuan Lin, PhD, Professor of Cancer Biology and Scientific Director, Prostate Cancer Center of Excellence
A patient-facing, integrated electronic health record and post-discharge care management planning tool for chronic conditions such as stroke. COMPASS (Comprehensive Post-acute Stroke Services) is the basis for a 49-center PCORI-funded trial assessing the tool’s ability to improve post-acute readmission rates. Catalyst has supported the development of an EMR-compatible, market-ready product.
Pamela Duncan, PhD, PT Professor of Neurology and Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine; Allison Brashear, MD, Professor and Chair of Neurology; Cheryl Bushnell, MD, Associate Professor and Director of Wake Forest Comprehensive Stroke Center; Ralph D’Agostino, PhD, Professor and Scott Rushing, Director Research Information Systems, Department of Biostatistics, Division of Public Health Sciences
A molecular diagnostic platform utilizing a novel nanopore-based technology that rapidly and accurately identifies nucleic acid sequences. Broad applications in both infectious disease and cancer diagnostics, as well as in environmental testing.
Adam R. Hall, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
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