Business Plan Based on Duquesne Research Chosen for National Competition
The largest patent licensing deal in Duquesne University history brought Dr. Aleem Gangjee's portfolio of cancer-fighting compounds to a business venture just over one year ago. Now the transfer of this technology from the University to a startup has captured the attention of a national organization of intellectual property managers and lawyers-through a business plan developed by Dr. Frank L. Sorgi, a three-time alumni and member of Duquesne's Alumni Board of Governors.
Sorgi, president and CEO of FLAG Therapeutics, formed a company around the portfolio developed by medicinal chemist Gangjee. A former executive who developed pharmaceuticals to the clinical trial stage, Sorgi created one of only four business plans selected nationwide by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) as a finalist for its 2015 Venture Forum Business Plan Competition, Feb. 23-24. The competition, attracting more than 50 young companies, specifically focuses on university research that has made the leap into the commercial realm.
"One of the missions of Duquesne's Office of Research is to facilitate the use of scholarly research as a springboard for economic development," said Dr. Alan W. Seadler, associate academic vice president for research and technology. "Reaching this stage of recognition is a success both for Duquesne and FLAG Therapeutics. Drugs are not easy products to commercialize, although this model of university research technology transfer might suggest ways that other hard-to-commercialize technology might get a chance in the marketplace," blazing a new way that Duquesne and its alumni might continue interacting.
"This agreement wouldn't have occurred without our technology," Seadler said. "It also wouldn't have occurred without Frank's relationship with Aleem and the School of Pharmacy. And it wouldn't have occurred without Frank's background, which plays a critical role. Our agreement builds off his experience and his continued relationship with Duquesne. So Frank is using our technology, and this is happening in a way that is helping an alum-and in a way that assists Duquesne, with revenue from the patent sale and possible royalties."
Having the plan chosen as one of the top among university-related intellectual properties across the country is mutually beneficial, Sorgi said. "Being selected as a finalist by AUTM provides validation that the panel of judges agree that we have a strong development plan-plus we have a seasoned team working toward the initiation of clinical testing.
"The opportunity to present at the AUTM national meeting has helped to increase awareness of the value of Dr. Gangjee's technology and hopefully will lead to FLAG completing the necessary financing to bring these oncology compounds to cancer patients in the near future," he said.
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.