UA Research and Innovation Impact Recognized at Governor’s Celebration of Innovation

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Laurence Hurley, PhD, Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UA College of Pharmacy, was honored as Innovator of the Year - Academia. Photo credit: Alison Mairena/Tech Launch Arizona

Laurence Hurley, PhD, Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UA College of Pharmacy, was honored as Innovator of the Year - Academia. Photo credit: Alison Mairena/Tech Launch Arizona

Tucson, Ariz. – At the 2018 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation, an annual Phoenix gala event honoring Arizona leaders and visionaries whose work has contributed to the growth and success of the state’s technology industry, this year’s finalists included three University of Arizona-associated companies and inventors, two of which went on to be selected as winners.

“Having our inventors and partners honored at the state level is tremendous,” said Doug Hockstad, assistant vice president of Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the University of Arizona that commercializes inventions stemming from research. “This level of recognition shows that the innovative work coming out of the UA is creating real impact in the ecosystem.”

The Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority hosted the event and facilitated the committee that selected the finalists and winners. The UA award winners included:

Innovator of the Year – Academia: Professor Laurence Hurley

Dr. Hurley is a professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UA College of Pharmacy, and is the world's leading quadruplex drug discovery expert. His research interests are in the areas of design and development of antitumor agents. Over the last forty years, work from his laboratory has led to the elucidation of the structures of the drug–nucleic acid complexes for seven different groups of compounds that are potentially useful in the treatment of cancer and three have advanced to clinical trials. He has published over 270 papers, is a named inventor on 25 patents, and was the 2017 AzBIO Bioscience Researcher of the Year. Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the UA that commercializes inventions stemming from research, honored Dr. Hurley as UA Inventor of the Year in Biomedicine 2016.  In 2017, he worked with TLA to launch a startup – Reglagene – to bring to market new drugs that selectively target cancer cells using a Quadruplex Master Switch Technology developed at the University.

“One of the best decisions I’ve made in my research career was to come to the University of Arizona 18 years ago,” Dr. Hurley said. “The success of my research group has been supported by the University through the Schaeffer Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutical sciences, the College of Pharmacy, the BIO5 Institute, the Arizona Cancer Center and Tech Launch Arizona.”

Innovator of the Year – Small Company: CampusLogic

Based in Phoenix, CampusLogic licensed a UA-created web-based solution in 2016 that matches students with scholarship opportunities. The award-winning software, originally developed by the UA Student Affairs staff and upgraded by CampusLogic’s development team on their commercial architecture, is now one of the company’s major offerings. Today, more than 450 colleges and universities across the nation use CampusLogic’s platform to increase access to education, reduce borrowing, and drive completion.

“Being recognized as Innovator of the Year is a testament to the hard work of the team behind our scholarship solution, ScholarshipUniverse,” said Gregg Scoresby, CEO at CampusLogic. “By investing heavily in innovative solutions that help schools change lives, we’re revolutionizing the higher education industry.”

In addition to the above, Regulonix, a UA startup developing non-opioid-based small molecule inhibitors for chronic pain reduction, was one of three finalists selected for the Innovator of the Year – Startup Company category. Rajesh Khanna, PhD, professor of pharmacology at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, is the lead inventor of the technology, and Michael Sember, is the Regulonix CEO. Sember originally connected with Khanna and Regulonix through is role as a mentor-in-residence at Tech Launch Arizona.

More details about the event and a full listing of all honorees from across the state is available in this article on the Tucson.com website

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Paul Tumarkin
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