SUNY Poly Alumna, Founder & CEO of Glauconix Biosciences Awarded $750,000 by National Science Foundation for Commercialization of Technology Developed at SUNY Poly to Fight Eye Diseases
Grant to enable startup based at SUNY Poly’s Albany campus to expand its capabilities and further its unique approach to glaucoma research
ALBANY, NY – SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) announced today that Glauconix Biosciences has been selected to receive $750,000 in federal funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF). But Glauconix isn’t a long-standing biopharmaceutical company—it’s actually a SUNY Poly startup led by alumna Dr. Karen Torrejon, with research operations based at the institution’s Albany campus.
The grant will enable a more efficient, validated platform for glaucoma drug screening, in addition to the development of new 3D tissue models to improve therapies for other diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and macular edema, as it provides a foundation for further business growth for the business.
“On behalf of SUNY Poly, I am proud to congratulate Dr. Karen Torrejon for her nanobioscience-based research at SUNY Poly that has led to the development and growth of Glauconix, and now, the award of this prestigious grant by the National Science Foundation,” said SUNY Poly Interim President Dr. Bahgat Sammakia. “NSF’s support of Glauconix’s research is a testament to this institution’s graduate studies program and how it prepares our students to develop and commercialize next-generation technologies and lead their own successful companies right here in New York State.”
“Receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation is a clear indication for Glauconix that their approach to finding better ways to treat glaucoma has strong potential to improve lives, and we are proud of Dr. Torrejon for her work that shows how SUNY Poly can be a powerful catalyst for students to pursue high-tech businesses and opportunities after graduation,” said SUNY Poly Provost Dr. William Durgin. “We are also thrilled that Glauconix is based at SUNY Poly’s Albany campus where it is providing jobs and internship opportunities for alumni and students, enabling the real-world experience that SUNY Poly delivers as part of its hands-on education.”
“I am thrilled that the National Science Foundation has recognized Glauconix’s cutting-edge approach to next-generation Glaucoma research, which can lead to more cost-effective therapeutics to improve quality of life for the millions of people around the world who suffer from this and other ocular diseases,” said Torrejon, who graduated from SUNY Poly in 2016 with a Ph.D. in Nanoscale Engineering. “This research results from the exciting work that I was able to conduct as a Ph.D. student and NSF graduate research fellow at SUNY Poly, and I am thrilled to take this effort to the next level, growing Glauconix by scaling up and commercializing our proprietary technology. I am also incredibly thankful for the support from the Eastern New York Angels who have seen Glauconix’s potential and have enabled a solid foundation for further growth and development of the company.”
The NSF grant will support Glauconix’s novel research over the next two years as it aims to provide better models to test targeted therapies for the treatment of glaucoma and other eye diseases. To address glaucoma, Glauconix employs a proprietary synthetic meshwork that behaves like the natural trabecular meshwork in our eyes; when the trabecular meshwork limits or stops the flow of the aqueous fluid, it can lead to glaucoma, a leading cause of irreversible and preventable blindness in the United States and worldwide, affecting over 70 million people. The use of a synthetic meshwork by Glauconix has been shown to be more cost-effective and efficient than the traditional use of cadaver eyes.
More specifically, the award will allow Glauconix to scale-up the current technology and increase the volume of therapeutic testing that the company is capable of to accommodate more clients. In addition, Glauconix will be able to expand its therapeutic and tissue model portfolio, incorporating the trabecular meshwork and canal tissue models into a combined system, which is expected to lower development costs, expedite pre-clinical drug research, and increase the chances of clinical success.
The concept behind Glauconix’s technology began as research in the lab of Dr. Susan Sharfstein, SUNY Poly Associate Professor of Nanobioscience, and was powered by a $50,000 initial investment from the SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund. Torrejon focused on this research as a Ph.D. student at SUNY Poly, leading her to create Glauconix. The company later won the $100,000 grand prize at the 2014 New York Business Plan Competition after pitching its business plan to seasoned investors and entrepreneurs and beating out hundreds of other business proposals by college student teams from colleges and universities across New York State. Since the competition, Glauconix has been able to raise millions of dollars to support the ramp up of its operations at SUNY Poly, growing from three to seven employees. Currently, three of the company’s employees are SUNY Poly alumni, and Glauconix has recently provided real-world, hands-on internship opportunities to a number of SUNY Poly students.
SUNY Polytechnic Institute. SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) is New York’s globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem, formed from the merger of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and SUNY Institute of Technology. SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience and nanoengineering, as well as cutting-edge nanobioscience and nanoeconomics programs at its Albany location and undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and the engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, including natural sciences, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences at its Utica/Rome location. Thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience. As the world’s most advanced, university-driven research enterprise, SUNY Poly boasts billions of dollars in high-tech investments and over 300 corporate partners since its inception. For information visit www.sunycnse.com and www.sunypoly.edu.
Glauconix Biosciences. Glauconix Biosciences is a “specialty pharma” company catering to pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies and academic/government institutions interested in the development of treatments for glaucoma and other ocular diseases. The company utilizes its fully developed technology to offer disease-relevant high-throughput screening, mechanism-of-action, target validation and additional testing of glaucoma therapies. For more information visit www.glauconix-biosciences.com.
Steve Ference, Director of University Communications
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