Published February 2, 2012
A faculty member has anonymously donated $1 million to UB to establish a fund that will help commercialize discoveries and inventions at the university.
The Bruce Holm Memorial Catalyst Fund is named for the SUNY Distinguished Professor and UB senior vice provost who died last year at 52.
In the 1980s and early ’90s, Holm and Edmund A. Egan, II, MD, professor of pediatrics and physiology and biophysics, developed Infasurf, a lung surfactant that has contributed to lower mortality rates among premature newborns.
The Holm fund will finance prototype and proof-of-concept studies that will help translate inventions and discoveries made by UB faculty into products and treatments.
It also will generate revenue for the start-up companies it supports.
The $1 million donation to the fund has been made as a match challenge. If fully met, the fund would provide a total of $2 million.
“The Bruce Holm Memorial Catalyst Fund is the kind of resource used by most major universities to fill the gap between government-supported basic research and private investment needed for commercialization of products and services based on faculty inventions,” says UB Vice Provost Robert Genco, DDS, PhD.
The fund will be based in UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR). In the past decade, STOR has licensed some 130 UB faculty inventions, more than half of which have evolved into Western New York start-up companies.
Another 85 companies have graduated through STOR’s incubator system, employing an estimated 3,300 people and generating $540 million in revenue, primarily in the region.
“The success of the innovative Western New York companies that STOR supports demonstrates that UB research is making a difference in our community,” says Genco, who serves as STOR’s director.
“From the gastrointestinal diagnostics developed by SmartPill to the lung surfactant developed by ONY, Inc. to the cancer-fighting compounds of Kinex, all are bolstering our regional economy while improving people’s lives.”
Holm, who joined UB’s faculty in 1989, was a professor of pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and pharmacology and toxicology. At the time of his death, he was senior vice provost, having previously served as executive director of the UB New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.
In each of these roles, he worked diligently to attract high-profile researchers and inventors to Buffalo.
In 2004, the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute presented Holm and Egan with its Pioneers of Science Award. In 2008, UB awarded them the Faculty Entrepreneur Award for commercializing Infasurf.