Scientists at universities can often be found hunkered down in their lab, leaning over a microscope and taking copious notes for their next academic paper. This dedicated research and recording is, of course, incredibly important and admirable work.
However, many scientists are becoming less satisfied with keeping their findings confined to campus communities and scientific journals. Instead, they are working with organizations like the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation to patent, license, and commercialize discoveries that can directly benefit people’s lives.
Xiaoyang Wu, PhD, associate professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research at the University of Chicago, is one such scientist.
“I want to see my research in the lab benefit society and patients,” he said. “That’s really exciting. A lot of scientists want to make an impact from bench to bedside.”
To that end, Wu has been working with the Polsky Center for the past three years to protect his intellectual property and convert his research in epidermal stem cells into widespread applications and treatments of diseases and other ailments. And he is not satisfied with focusing exclusively on skin disorders. Wu sees skin grafts treating everything from diabetes and phenylketonuria (PKU) to hemophilia. He has developed skin grafts that can deliver specific proteins, detect compounds such as insulin in diabetics, and detoxify the blood to rid the body of harmful toxins.
“I think the possibilities are very wide,” Wu said. “There are many things we can do to set up this system, and right now it’s headed in a very interesting direction.”
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