We are proud of the commercial successes of technologies in our licensing program. Following are a few highlights of the innovations Washington Research Foundation has helped advance.
UW professor Benjamin Hall and his postdoctoral fellow Gustav Ammerer, in collaboration with colleagues at Genentech, Inc., developed a general method for the expression of pharmaceutically important proteins called "biologics" in yeast.
The resulting patent, "Expression of Polypeptides in Yeast," was assigned to WRF by the University of Washington.
This yeast manufacturing process is used extensively in the production of lifesaving biologics, including Novo Nordisk’s insulins, Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline’s hepatitis B vaccines, and Merck’s HPV vaccine, Gardasil. These drugs and vaccines have significantly improved the health of more than a billion people worldwide.
Earl Davie, professor and chair of the UW's Department of Biochemistry and co-founder of one of Seattle’s first biotech companies, Zymos (now Zymogenetics), provided WRF with one of its earliest licensing successes.
Dr. Davie and his postdoctoral fellow Ko Kurachi cloned the Factor IX gene that is inactive in patients with hemophilia B. This breakthrough led to Drs. Davie and Kurachi’s patent “rDNA Preparation of Christmas Factor and Use of DNA Sequences (Factor IX),” which is used in the manufacture of Genetics Institute’s BeneFIX, helping thousands of hemophiliacs across the more than 60 countries in which it is sold.
As an undergraduate in the University of Washington’s Electrical Engineering Department during the mid-1990s, Ed Suominen invented a radio receiver technology with novel ways of tuning a radio among several channels. His work, with Professors John Sahr and Murat Azizoglu as advisors, resulted in a technology that eased the design and improved the performance of contemporary personal wireless data services such as mobile phones, personal computers and other devices. The invention has proven particularly well suited for use in Bluetooth-enabled wireless devices.
The technology is licensed exclusively to Washington Research Foundation, which then sublicenses it for use in industry. For 10 years WRF prosecuted the application, which has grown into a portfolio of 14 issued U.S. patents, with more still pending. WRF has signed licensing agreements with more than a dozen companies wanting access to this valuable portfolio. These licenses bring revenue to WRF, the UW and Suominen.