KU's Tradition of Industry Collaboration
The tradition of collaboration between research and industry dates back more than 40 years at KU. In the biosciences area, especially, KU has a strong foundation of research, innovation and entrepreneurship that benefits the university and the Kansas economy.
The tradition began in 1967, when Takeru Higuchi — now widely regarded as the "Father of Physical Pharmacy" — was recruited to join the KU faculty. New facilities for his research were part of the start-up package. Soon after, Higuchi was offered the opportunity to start a new company in Palo Alto, California. Instead, Higuchi remained in Lawrence to launch the company — Alza — and it operated for five years in what is now called Higuchi Hall on KU’s West Campus. Higuchi developed Dipivefrin or Propine® (dipivaloyl epinepdrine) at this time based on his KU research. The product was eventually sold through Allergan in Irvine, California. After separating from Alza in 1972, Higuchi started a drug delivery company — INTERx — that was acquired in 1981 by pharmaceutical powerhouse Merck.
The KU Center for Bioanalytical Research, founded by Higuchi and colleagues in 1983, led the drive to move basic research to marketable technologies. In 1986, a phenytoin prodrug, fosphenytoin, developed by Higuchi protege Val Stella, was licensed to Merck. It was eventually marketed and sold by Pfizer as Cerebyx®. Stella was also a co-inventor of Viread® (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), an anti-viral drug used in the treatment of HIV-1. In 1989, the KU Center for Drug Delivery Research was founded and began developmental research on sulfobutylether-b-cyclodextrin, a drug-solubilizing compound discovered by Stella and Roger Rajewski. In 1993, CyDex was incorporated to license and commercialize modified cyclodextrins.
Selected KU Research Centers
Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC)
Dedicated to engineering environmentally responsible chemical processes and products, CEBC is a collaborative research center at University of Kansas, University of Iowa, and Washington University-St. Louis. Innovations resulting from CEBC research will impact a wide cross-section of the chemical industry including agriculture, fine and specialty chemicals, consumer products, petroleum and petrochemical processes, and pharmaceuticals.
Higuchi Biosciences Center (HBC)
HBC scientists conduct research in basic biomedical problems, bioanalytical chemistry, drug delivery systems, neurological sciences and immunology. Many HBC-affiliated scientists work closely with companies to license and commercialize technologies developed in HBC laboratories. The center is named for Takeru Higuchi, a longtime KU distinguished professor and the founder of physical pharmacy.
Information and Telecommunication Technology Center (ITTC)
ITTC scientists focus on research and development, as well as technology transfer, in the area of transmission systems. Under investigation are networking and distributed systems, light wave communication systems, intelligent systems and information management, wireless communications, digital signal processing, radar systems and remote sensing. ITTC helps regional and national companies to study and solve problems and thus increase their competitive advantage.
KUCTC REGIONAL PARTNERS
Enterprise Center of Johnson County (ECJC)
ECJC is a business incubator that provides high-growth potential companies and entrepreneurs with the resources they need to build successful businesses in Johnson County, Kansas, including cost-effective office space, shared resources, an entrepreneurial environment and business consulting services. The ECJC is a not-for-profit corporation funded by the government of Johnson County, Kauffman Foundation, and other sponsors.
Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI)
KCALSI is a non-profit organization assisting with the transformation of Kansas City into a center for excellence in life sciences research and development. The KCALSI and its stakeholder institutions share an ambitious goal—to make new discoveries in aging and related diseases, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, cancer and infectious diseases.
A referral network, KCSourceLink connects emerging and existing small businesses to nonprofit resource partners in the Kansas City region..
KU Small Business Development Center (KU-SBDC)
The KU SBDC assists with the growth of Kansas small businesses by providing low cost training seminars, and one-to-one counseling services. The KU-KSBDC is a partnership program between the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA ), Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing (KDOCH), University of Kansas School of Business.