Connecting research with industry

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Dear Colleagues,

On October 22, we hosted the first event of our “INSPIRE” series. The Innovation Series for Partnering Industry with the Research Enterprise (INSPIRE) offers a number of targeted events designed to support and enhance both new and existing relationships between Clemson University’s research enterprise and industrial partners. The first event of the series, the SBIR/STTR Workshop, offered attendees the opportunity to learn the various aspects of writing Small Business Innovation (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.

The event featured 3PhaseSC, a resource created by the South Carolina Department of Commerce aimed at assisting South-Carolina based companies with successfully acquiring SBIR/STTR funding, who highlighted the countless federal agencies who provide small business funding, and the strategies to find and secure that funding. Additional speakers included: South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), i4 Series, Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship (ACRE), SCORE, Clemson University Office of Industrial Contracts and Office of Sponsored Programs, Recovr, Inc., and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Thank you to everyone who attended the SBIR/STTR Workshop. As the facilitator of technology transfer, we are working to continually create opportunities for you to connect and collaborate with industry partners to develop your research. Be on the lookout for more upcoming INSPIRE events!

For more information on INSPIRE and upcoming events, contact us directly at cuinspire@clemson.edu.

Best regards,

-Chris

Inventor Spotlight: Narendra Vyavahere

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Dr. Naren Vyavahare, a Hunter Endowed Chair and Professor of Bioengineering at Clemson University, is transforming healthcare through his research in cardiovascular disease pathology, heart valve biomaterials, site-specific therapies, and extracellular matrix remodeling in tissue regeneration. Growing up in Pune, India, in a middle-income family, Vyavahare believed that education was the key to his and his family’s future. As a result, he earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Pune in 1990. Prior to joining Clemson, Vyavahare served as a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and as a Research Investigator at the University of Michigan.

Since joining the Clemson family, Vyavahare has received more than $34 million in federal funding, including a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence project grant that has drawn in more than $25 million since 2009, making it the largest single grant in Clemson’s history. He is currently serving as the director of the South Carolina Bioengineering Center of Regeneration and Formation of Tissues (SC BioCRAFT), and has launched three biotechnology companies based on its work. 

Vyavahare has made major contributions to heart valve implants and understanding the mechanisms of vascular calcification, for which one of his treatments is now clinically usedHis current research, funded by the NIH, focuses on finding targeted treatments to stabilize and restore vascular structures to prevent or reverse calcification, aortic aneurysms, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and skin disorders. Vyavahare’s research has been published in over 150 journals and conference proceedings, in 6 book chapters, and has resulted in 13 international and US patents—some of which are now licensed to companies to develop products. In addition to his research, Vyavahare has a passion for developing the next generation of inventors. During his time at Clemson, he has graduated 13 Ph.D. students and 20 M.S. students. 

Helping people continues to be the overarching theme of Vyavahare’s research. He believes that innovative research is the key to improving the lives of millions of people, and as a result, constantly works to make a difference in the world with his research. 

To learn more about Dr. Vyavahare, click here.

Clemson Researcher Developing Genetically-Enhanced Perennial Grasses as Potential Fuel Source

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded Hong Luo, a Clemson University College of Science Professor with the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry, a $500,000 grant to develop genetically enhanced and more resilient turfgrass and switchgrass.

These perennial plants, which constitute a multibillion-dollar sector of the U.S. agricultural economy, are found nationwide on athletic fields, cemeteries, golf courses, and parks. While turf and switchgrass can grow in harsh soil conditions using fewer resources than corn, these plants require large amounts of water, making them sensitive to extreme heat and drought. With Luo’s genetic enhancements, perennial grasses could become a favorable biofuel source producing high ethanol yields.

One obstacle faced with genetic-engineering is preventing the spillover of lab-engineered genes into the non-modified grasses or weeds growing in nearby fields, which could have unforeseeable effects on the environment. Luo’s approach to trans-gene containment is to merge two site-specific DNA recombination systems using completely sterile induction mechanisms.

The first line will consist of three active genes for Cre recombinase, hygromycin resistance (hyg) and endonuclease Cas9, and an inactive RNAi expression cassette for a flowering control gene, FLO/LFY homolog. The second line will contain an active herbicide resistance gene bar, recombinase gene phiC31 and FLO/LFY homolog gene guide RNA (sgRNA), and an inactive stress-regulating rice SUMO E3 ligase gene, OsSIZ1. When the two lines are cross-pollinated in the lab, specific genes will be activated and others removed, forming a more stress-resistant line.

The genetically enhanced plants will be completely sterile and produce no pollen or seeds, making it impossible for the modified genes to spread. By the end of the four-year project, Luo expects the new transgenic line to be ready for testing, with stringent USDA field tests and commercialization following.

Before joining the Clemson faculty, Luo led the development of the first genetically altered, environmentally safe, male-sterile and herbicide-resistant turfgrass while serving as the director of research at HybriGene, Inc. He also assisted in creating a new approach for hybrid crop production using site-specific DNA recombination systems.

To learn more about Hong Luo and his research in transgenic plants genomics, click here.