UVM Showcases University’s Patented Research

Have you ever wondered if the work that goes on in all of the UVM research labs ever amounts to anything? Well, at the UVM Office of Technology Transfer, corporations around the globe license technologies developed by UVM researchers and patented by the university. Companies choose from several licensing options, including sponsoring additional research, hiring the inventor of the technology as a company consultant, or licensing the technology in its current form. The office deals with patents on inventions in fields ranging from health services to engineering. One technology which has been highlighted by the OTT’s website is a discovery by Dr. David Kerr of the Animal Sciences department, and Laura Celia, a graduate student in the Kerr lab. The pair isolated a molecule in a phage (a bacterial virus) which acts as an effective antibiotic for certain bacteria. This discovery is especially helpful in a time when many strains of bacteria are developing resistance to conventional antibiotic treatment. By utilizing a molecule from the bacterium’s natural predator, Kerr and his colleagues hope to profit from years of natural selection for this particular molecule, a lysin, within the phage. The isolated lysine acts specifically against a molecule in the bacterial cell wall, making it a very specific antibacterial agent, with a very high success rate. The patent for this discovery is pending, and worldwide rights are available for interested companies. Another spotlight technology for the OTT is phosphorus removal system for wastewater, developed by Dr. Aleksandra Drizo in the Plant and Soil Sciences department. Phosphorus levels have become a large concern in wastewater management, since high concentrations of phosphorus tend to lower oxygen levels in water, and promote algal growth. Dr. Drizo’s invention uses a series of filters to trap phosphorus by using molecules to which the element is naturally attracted. In trials, the filter system has been able to remove 95% of phosphorus from water supplies phosphorus concentrations up to 50 grams per liter. One of the major advantages of this new system is its portability and cost. Current phosphorus removal systems are cumbersome and inflexible, making them ideal only for certain types of applications. This new technology can be molded to fit most wastewater systems, and integrates easily with current technology. Worldwide rights to this invention are also available for purchase. A final invention available for license from UVM’s OTT is a method developed by a lab in the mechanical engineering department. Using certain kinds of light waves, this research team developed a method for inducing a chemical reaction at the interface of two materials. This new technology has potential applications in semiconductor production and optical coatings. Both of these fields require control of chemical reactions at the surface of materials, which this method supplies. The University has received a provisional patent for this technology, and it is now available for license worldwide. Interested students can read about all of the patented UVM technologies at the OTT’s website: http://www.uvminnovations.com/.