Fisher Bioreactor Wins Professor Venture Fair

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Associate Professor John Fisher.

A team led by Fischell Department of Bioengineering associate professor John Fisher won Best Inventor Pitch at the 2009 Professor Venture Fair, held as part of Bioscience Research & Technology Review Day, for its design of a tissue engineering bioreactor system that grows bone and other types of tissue for implantation. Fisher's technology was one of six innovations presented by faculty members and graduate students at the event, which took place November 12 at the University of Maryland.

"Dr. Fisher impressed the judges with his clearly defined product—the bioreactor system itself—and his ability to position himself within an already vibrant tissue engineering marketplace," says Gayatri Varma, executive director of the university’s Office of Technology Commercialization.

Fisher's novel, patent-pending bioreactor system makes tissue engineering more efficient by addressing many of the shortcomings of available systems, such as the high cost and complexity of the perfusion chamber and the low output of the rotating flask. His approach exposes growing tissue to an increased amount of oxygen and nutrients, making it a more prolific and cost effective bioreactor than those currently on the market.

Fisher, along with graduate student researcher Andrew Yeatts and undergraduate student researcher Elyse Geibel, both from the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, have already created a prototype in his lab using off-the-shelf products. The team plans to start a company called ProlifiTEC to bring the bioreactor to a commercial market.

"We're thrilled to win," says Fisher. "It's a fantastic opportunity to be able to describe our work and concept to local venture capitalists. We hope to use this award as a springboard to launch our company."

The annual Biotechnology Research and Technology Review Day Professor Venture Fair is hosted by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), the Office of Technology Commercialization, and the College of Chemical and Life Sciences. The pitch competition encourages scientists to consider the commercial potential of their work and challenges them to translate their ideas to a general, non-technical audience.

This year's Professor Venture Fair was sponsored by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). Judges for the event included Jeff Auerbach of Edell, Shapiro & Finnan; Jeff Davis of Medimmune; Robb Doub of New Markets Growth Fund; Christine Copple of Starrise Ventures; Martha Connolly of Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS); and Linda Saffer of TEDCO.

This is the second year in a row—out of the three years the competition has been held—that a team led by or including members from the Fischell Department of Bioengineering has taken first place. Last year's winners, Fischell Fellow Matt Dowling and his advisor, Associate Professor Srinivasa Raghavan (Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), representing their startup company Remedium Technologies, won for their Velcro-like biomaterial bandages.

For More Information

Visit Professor Fisher's web site »
Visit the Mtech web site »

Published November 17, 2009