CURF names Executive Director

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A seasoned business executive and product-development professional has been tapped to lead the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF).


As CURF executive director, Chris Gesswein is charged with commercializing innovative Clemson technology and intellectual property and nurturing private-sector partnerships that will advance scientific discovery at Clemson and support economic growth. Gesswein, who joined CURF in 2014 as director of licensing for technology transfer, has served as interim director since 2017.

“CURF serves as the intersection of university research and the economy. Chris’ business savvy and understanding of research and development will benefit Clemson faculty, industry and the South Carolina economy,” said Tanju Karanfil, vice president for research.

Prior to joining CURF, Gesswein was vice president of business development at Ultradian Diagnostics, a startup he helped nurture to a clinical-stage medical device company while overseeing fundraising, regulatory compliance and research grants management. He has more than 20 years of experience bringing various technologies from concept to market working as a new product development and technology transfer specialist for early-stage startups as well as large multinational companies. Gesswein also operated a consulting business to assist mid-market life sciences companies and has been a co-author on approximately 21 federal SBIR/STTR and state technology-development grants.

Gesswein received his master’s degree in biotechnology and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University and his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University. He has an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and is a member of the American Association of Clinical Chemistry, the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, the Association of University Technology Managers and the Licensing Executive Society.

“With a deep understanding of business, product development and research, Chris is well-positioned to lead a great team at CURF and was an easy, unanimous choice by the board to move the organization forward,” said CURF board Chairman George Acker.

The Clemson University Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) corporation organized exclusively for charitable, educational or scientific purposes to promote the research enterprise at Clemson University.

Through an agency agreement with the university, the foundation is commercializing intellectual property through technology transfer; licensing agreements and new venture formations; and assisting with research development through a foundation-sponsored technology maturation program and participation in early-stage research grants and sponsored research activities.

*This article was originally published on the Clemson Newsstand. Read the full article here.*

CURF welcomes Technology Commercialization Officer

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The Clemson University Research Foundation is pleased to introduce Dr. Alan Alfano, the newest member of the CURF team.  Dr. Alfano will be working as a Technology Commercialization Officer (TCO) with Clemson inventors on biomedical, bioengineering, and life sciences technologies, among others.

Alan completed a dual BS degree from Towson University (Molecular Biology/Chemistry) in 2009, and subsequently earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, School of Medicine (Molecular Medicine) in 2015. His thesis work focused on drug resistance and metastatic spread of aggressive prostate cancer. During his time as a Ph.D. student at UMSOM, Alan also completed a technology development internship with UMVentures (UMB Technology Transfer Office), where he assisted senior staff in conducting commercial analysis and targeted marketing of selected technologies.

Following completion of his Ph.D. work at UMSOM, Alan completed a post-doctoral Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) Fellowship at the National Cancer Institute Technology Transfer Center (NCI-TTC). As a fellow at NCI TTC, Alan worked to perform a variety of invention development activities for clinicians and researchers at the NIH/NCI Center for Cancer Research. His primary subject areas of invention management/expertise include: oncology (general), experimental transplants, immunology and immunotherapeutics (e.g. novel antibodies, CARs, ADCs, RITs, etc.), vaccine development, radiation oncology, molecular diagnostics, genetics, and software/digital solutions.

Through his work in disease research, and his biotech business experience at UMB and NCI, Dr. Alfano has developed skills that will enable him to learn and adapt quickly in his new role as a Technology Commercialization Officer (TCO) with CURF.

CURF welcomes Marketing Manager

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The Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) is pleased to announce that Clarissa Williams has joined the CURF team as the new Marketing Manager. Clarissa will be working to help CURF launch new marketing initiatives in an effort to rebrand the Foundation.

Williams comes to CURF with a wealth of knowledge in branding, social media management, website development, and graphic design. Before accepting the Marketing Manager position with CURF, Clarissa was the Training and Communications Coordinator at Clemson University in the Office of Sponsored Programs. While there, Williams redeveloped the office website, managed social media platforms, and coordinated a number of campus-wide events.

Clarissa completed a BA degree in English from Clemson University in 2013 and later received her MS in Marketing, also from Clemson University, in 2017. Through her education and years working in the marketing industry, Clarissa has developed skills that will allow her to successfully adapt to her new role as Marketing Manager at CURF so that she is able to build the CURF brand by increasing engagement and awareness on and offline.