Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) will give opening comments at the Oregon Bioscience Showcase, held on October 30 at the Empirical Theater at OMSI. This one-day event features the Company Pitch Showcase, Research Fast Pitch and our 7th annual Bio on the Rocks networking event and offers local researchers and entrepreneurs a forum to share their exciting bioscience developments.
The Company Pitch Showcase highlights our state’s best entrepreneurs and start-up companies. Each entrepreneur invited to participate will give a 10-minute pitch to the audience, which will be followed by Q&A from the judging panel and audience. This year, we will be highlighting nine device, diagnostic and digital health startups. The Company Pitch Showcase is sponsored by OTRADI/Oregon Bioscience Incubator. Read more about the 2017 Company Pitch Showcase Participants.
2017 Company Pitch Showcase Participants
John Zicker, CEO
What if the cure for cancer has already been discovered and is hidden in millions of research documents? Amplion utilizes artificial intelligence techniques to extract and synthesize biological information to drive advances in the development of precision medications. Amplion uses deep learning to build expert machine reading models to extract scientific, regulatory and commercial information pertaining to the relationship between biomarkers and disease.
Matthew Johnson, General Manager & Executive Officer
APDM Wearable Technologies is a sensor-based solution for measuring functional movement of patients with movement disorders. The technology is being used by researchers, clinicians and pharmaceutical companies to more precisely track a patient’s response to intervention, with the goal of creating a healthcare system that is customized to each patient. APDM has three software platforms: “Motion Studio,” which provides access to raw data; “Mobility Lab,” which generates outcome measures for gait and balance analysis; and “Moveo Explorer,” which produces full-body kinematic data.
Hemex Health, Inc.
Patti White, CEO
Hemex Health is developing affordable, accurate tests for millions of people at risk for malaria and sickle cell disease who lack access to viable diagnostics. Hemex’s portable solutions will provide quick and effective benefits to healthcare workers and patients whether in a modern clinic or remote corner of the world. Hemex’s malaria diagnostic uses magneto-optical analysis to detect minute amounts of hemozoin, a by-product produced by all malaria parasites. Using this technology, the Hemex diagnostic can detect very low levels of parasites in a single drop of blood in under one minute. Hemex’s sickle cell disease diagnostic features microchip electrophoresis — a faster, cheaper, more-automated approach to electrophoresis (a gold standard test) that can identify and quantify hemoglobin variants in eight minutes.
Holly Rockweiler, CEO & Co-Founder
Madorra is creating the first hormone-free medical device to treat vaginal dryness for postmenopausal women. The device is simple and easy to use, so women can comfortably treat themselves at home. After only a few weeks of therapy, women will be empowered and enabled to reclaim their sexual wellness. The Madorra solution uses a proprietary device to augment vaginal blood flow in women with vaginal atrophy to increase natural lubrication and improve vaginal tissue health. One of the major pathways by which estrogen supports normal, healthy vaginal tissue is by increasing vasodilation and blood flow to the vagina. This blood flow stimulates local effects of transudate, which increase lubrication. Over time, increased blood flow stimulates thicker, more elastic and better-lubricated vaginal tissue.
Matt Beaudet, CEO
NemaMetrix’s technology enables real-time discovery of drugs and their molecular mechanisms of action. At the heart of the proprietary USB-drive-sized device is a humanized, microscopic animal genetically modified to represent an individual patient for rapid personalized in-vivo testing for more than 80% of human diseases. Using modern genetic manipulation tools (CRISPR) and proprietary techniques, NemaMetrix creates these animals in as little as 3 weeks for $5K per animal. The animal model is then measured in the device, which electrically monitors the animal’s vitals (analogous to a human EEG and EKG) to provide a proxy for the human subject’s health, disease progression and the impact of potential drug therapies.
Duffy DuFresne, CEO
OmnEcoil Instruments is focused on the development of a prostate biopsy system. As compared to existing approaches to prostate biopsies, OmnEcoil’s solution is quicker, offers improved diagnostic accuracy and may have reduced disease morbidity. Based on an Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) licensed technology, the OmnEcoil device combines an endorectal MRI coil for optimal diagnostic imaging and an array of biopsy channels for directly-targeted biopsies. This novel device converts a two-step pathway (diagnostic MRI followed by separate MRI-targeted biopsy) into a one-step process (combined diagnostic MRI and biopsy). This is easier and more efficient for both patients and physicians and may reduce the incidence of false-negative cancer diagnoses.
Owl Insights, Inc.
Eric Meier, CEO
Owl Insights provides a cloud-based software solution designed to help clinicians achieve better outcomes for behavioral health patients through the implementation of Measurement-Based Care. The ‘Owl’ allows clinicians to screen patients for a variety of conditions and then track treatment progress to ensure it is optimized. The ‘Owl’ is a cloud-based software solution spun out of the University of Washington’s Psychology Department. The five components of the ‘Owl’ include a) patient, clinician and administrator portal; b) library containing evidence-based patient-reported outcomes; c) clinical decision support engine; d) EMR integration module; and e) patient, clinic and population reporting and detailed analytics.
Sedia Biosciences Corporation
Rick Nipper, Ph.D., Vice President
Sedia Biosciences Corporation is a healthcare company focused on the development and commercialization of novel diagnostic and epidemiological tests, including the Asanté™ HIV-1 Rapid Recency™ Assay. This assay is a single-use, point-of-collection immunoassay for distinguishing recent HIV-1 infections from those which are long-term. The assay employs a lateral flow test, similar to a home pregnancy test, which can deliver results in approximately 20 minutes. The company is dedicated to advancing access to medical care by developing innovative and cost-effective diagnostic products, enabling expanded testing for infectious diseases.
Sonivate Medical, Inc.
Jim Hatlan, President and CEO
Sonivate Medical is developing an ultrasound system for battlefield medics, first responders and healthcare techs. The system, which is focused on the eFAST exam (an ultrasound application for trauma victims), utilizes Sonivate’s fingertip-mounted probe, the SonicEye®. The probe combines ultrasound imaging with simultaneous tactile feedback, leaving both hands free to do work — an evolution in ultrasound technology beyond the hand-held transducers currently used in ultrasound applications. Sonivate’s unique and patented design incorporates a revolutionary approach to microarray architecture and connector-cabling design, delivering on a platform technology with a miniaturized transducer.
Clip Diagnostics (Alternate)
Augusta Modestino, Ph.D., CSO
Clip Diagnostics is advancing healthcare by tracking small changes. We are designing point-of-care monitoring and diagnostic devices that aid doctors in designing the right therapeutic strategy for each patient. Clip Diagnostics is based on proprietary technology that allows rapid detection of proteases (important biomarkers) from a single drop of blood using minimal equipment. Our sepsis-detection assay uses “charge-changing” peptide substrates to detect specific protease activity in complex samples within minutes. Our assay is rapid, highly-specific, sensitive and could be converted into a point-of-care device.
The 2nd Annual Research Fast Pitch is a showcase designed for basic and applied researchers to share their work in a unique format—with precisely timed, three minute, automatically advancing, six-slide presentations. This event offers participants the opportunity to share their work with the broader bioscience community. Researchers and scientists — including undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, research associates, staff scientists and faculty — at academic research institutions are encouraged to apply. New this year, we are also introducing the Research Fast Pitch to regional high school students. Interested in seeing some fast pitches in action? Watch selected videos from last year. Read more about the 2017 Research Fast Pitch Participants.
2017 Research Fast Pitch Participants
12th Grade Student, Madison High School, Portland, Oregon
Project Mentor: David Valenzuela, Biomedical Sciences Teacher
A Genetic Approach to Designing a Novel Biological Sensor to Monitor Water Contamination
Water contamination — especially with the presence of coliform and other harmful bacteria — is difficult to address due to the local water bureau’s testing process, which involves manual collection and testing of water samples to check for contamination. Our team sought to find a viable alternative to this method, which could be implemented and then monitored from afar. To reduce the amount of human involvement, we worked to develop a biological sensor using a harmless strain of genetically-modified E.coli. Depending on the contaminant of interest, the E.coli can be re-engineered to be sensitive to the substance being monitored. This water-testing platform would consist of a dual chambered capsule, one of which would hold the sensor bacteria. When a water sample is released into the outer chamber, the water-activated inner chamber would release the bacteria. A sensor in the outer chamber would monitor the growth of the sensor E.coli, indicating the presence of water contamination.
11th Grade Student, Camas High School, Camas, Washington
Research Assistant, Washington State University-Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington
Principle Investigator: Dr. Barbara Sorg, Professor of Neuroscience
A Closer Look at Memory: The Effect of Diurnal Rhythms on Perineuronal Nets
In recent years, many studies have observed a relationship between sleep and memory consolidation. Oftentimes, sleeping after learning a new task helps with remembering the newly learned memory. The consolidation process begins on the synaptic level as the brain forms new connections, and short-term memory is gradually converted into long-term memory. Although humans spend a third of their lives sleeping, these neurological mechanisms are still not well understood. While researchers typically only consider how neurons influence brain function, recent evidence suggests that the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM) plays an important role as well. Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are structures within the ECM that restrict plasticity and influence memory development. These PNNs tend to surround GABAergic interneurons that contain parvalbumin (PV). Our goal is to see how natural sleep/wake cycles influenced PV neurons and PNNs.
Vinita Chittoor, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Researcher, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
Principle Investigator: Dr. Ian Martin, Assistant Professor of Neurology
Influence of Diet on Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease with symptoms including motor impairment, tremors and rigid muscles. PD is a prevalent disease in the geriatric population, affecting quality of life and contributing prominently to healthcare costs. Despite this, there are no therapeutic strategies that decelerate or cease disease progression. My research focuses on LRRK2 (Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2), the most frequently mutated gene in PD patients. The common mutation in LRRK2, G2019S, is the cause for over 6% of familial PD and 2% of sporadic cases. At a cellular level, using a Drosophila model, it was shown that this mutation results in uncontrolled protein synthesis which contributes towards movement disability and loss of dopamine neurons in the flies. Since protein translation is critically controlled by dietary amino acids, I hypothesized that changing amino acid levels in the diet can alleviate PD-related symptoms. Our study is the first of its kind to employ dietary modulation, a conceivable and well-studied concept in the fields of aging and cancer, to a neurodegenerative disease.
Graduate Student, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon
Principle Investigator: Dr. Jeff McKnight, Assistant Professor of Biology
Design and Application of Synthetically Targeted Chromatin Remodeling Proteins
The fundamental importance of an individual’s DNA sequence has long been recognized, but recent research has shown that higher levels of genomic regulation, termed epigenetics, contribute significantly to an organism’s ability to develop and function. Our research exists at the nexus of biochemistry and genomics, to understand and manipulate a form of this epigenetic regulation imparted by dynamic positioning of nucleosomes, a major component of DNA packaging. Chromatin remodeling proteins (ChRPs) affect the specific positioning of nucleosomes, which impacts critical processes such as gene expression and DNA repair. Improper nucleosome positioning often leads to disruption of those critical cellular processes and creates cellular dysfunction, which contributes to numerous disease states; in fact, ChRPs are mutated in over 25% of all human tumor cells. To regulate how the genome functions at the level of nucleosome positioning, we developed a method to engineer novel ChRPs that can be synthetically directed to, and position nucleosomes at, any region of the genome. This approach is highly modular and allows for flexible, yet robust, control of nucleosome positioning genome-wide in cells.
Research Technician, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon
Principle Investigator: Dr. Kelly Sutherland, Assistant Professor of Biology
Pre-Settlement Swimming Behavior and Substrate Selection by Pacific Sea Nettle (Chrysaora Fuscescens) Planula Larvae
Marine sprawl, the development of man-made structures, such as docks, jetties and rigs in coastal environments, continues to expand across the globe. One ecological concern related to this development is the potential impact of these artificial structures on marine invertebrates that grow on hard surfaces, including the polyp stage of the jellyfish life cycle. Because polyps eventually develop into free-swimming adult jellyfish, polyp distribution is directly related to the distribution of adult jellyfish “blooms” in the open ocean. My research focuses on the settlement patterns and pre-settlement swimming behavior of the Pacific Sea Nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens), a common species in the California Current System off the Oregon coast. Improving our understanding of the impact of marine sprawl on jellyfish settlement patterns is necessary, not only to determine how this is impacted by human activity, but it may also shed light on the mechanisms behind apparent increases in jellyfish blooms in the world’s oceans, which can prove detrimental to fishing operations.
Co-Founder, Spritz It
Oregon State University (B.S. 2015)
Reducing Bacteria Contamination on Electronics in Healthcare Settings
There is a 4% chance of contracting an infection each time someone visits the hospital. We developed a solution to help reduce hospital-acquired infections by sterilizing cell phones, pagers, stethoscopes, tablets and other electronic devices. Studies have shown that pathogenic bacteria such as MRSA, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are on 85% of healthcare workers’ phones. Our approach was to create a device to combat this problem quickly and without hassle. The hands-free device sprays the cell phone, or other object, with a fine mist of a compound with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Studies have shown that 70% isopropyl alcohol used to clean phones has reduced bacteria by 79%. This device allows healthcare workers to quickly sanitize their devices multiple times a day quickly and without creating waste. The devices can be placed anywhere a hand sanitizer is located to allow for healthcare workers to have quick access.
Undergraduate Student, Reed College, Portland, Oregon
Principle Investigator: Dr. Jay Mellies, Professor of Biology
It’s Not Just a Phage: Allopatric Isolation and Genomic Characterization of Myoviridae Phage that Kill E.Coli Pathotypes
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children and infants. Globally, there are nearly 1.7 billion cases and 525,000 deaths due to childhood diarrhoeal disease every year. There are two clinically relevant bacterial pathogens responsible for diarrhoeal disease, enteropathogenic (EPEC) and enteroaggregative (EAEC) E. coli for which multi-drug resistant (MDR) forms exist. It is of great importance for public health that alternative or supplementary treatments for EPEC and EAEC, or other MDR bacteria, be developed. Bacteriophage, or ‘phage’, are viruses which selectively lyse their bacterial host and are some of the most ubiquitous organisms on the planet. Phage can be isolated from locations allopatric to their bacterial host and characterized using genomic and molecular assays. As the search for antibiotic alternatives continues, phage are emerging as an excellent candidate. Therefore, we isolated an allopatric phage (PDX1) from Portland Wastewater that selectively lyses EAEC and EPEC. We have detemined PDX1’s growth rate and lysis time, morphology via electron microscopy, genome sequence and the effect of PDX1 treatment on the microbiome.
Undergraduate Student, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon
Preventing Allergic Reactions
More than 5 million people in the United States have severe allergies, and current treatment includes administration of epinephrine, a reactive treatment rather than preventative. My solution is to create a product that can detect specific proteins that are associated with allergies, including nuts, dairy, gluten, seafood and more within unknown foods. My work is identifying what proteins within each respective food trigger a negative immune response, creating an indicator for the presence of allergens and designing the device to be portable making it convenient for anyone to carry around in a wallet or pocket if needed.
11th Grade Student, School of Science and Technology, Beaverton, Oregon
Project Mentor: Anne McHugh, Science Teacher
Using Arthropod Biodiversity as an Indicator of Urban Ecosystem Health
As cities grow over time, habitat islands are created, isolating small populations of animals from one another. While other researchers have studied how deforestation creates these isolated islands, few studies have directly examined how urban growth impacts habitat connectivity in urban park ecosystems. We will be using arthropods as indicators of ecosystem health as they consume producers and represent several trophic levels, making them a good indicator of trophic diversity. Our class is approaching this project by collecting arthropod samples at two parks within the Portland metro area: Tualatin Hills Nature Park (0.89 square kilometers) and Forest Park (20.93 square kilometers). At the parks, we will collect leaf litter arthropods using sifters, identify arthropods through dichotomous keys and analyze the biodiversity indices to determine whether park size influences biodiversity. Our research program will accumulate this arthropod diversity data at the same time each year, leading to a data set that may help inform scientists about whether any seasonal shifts are occurring locally due to climate change.
12th Grade Student, HeLa High School, Vancouver, Washington
Project Mentor: Linda LeBard, Science Teacher
Washington State University-Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington
Principle Investigator: Steve Sylvester, Associate Professor, Molecular Biosciences
Oyster Drills and Willapa Bay Shellfish
Before 1965 small predatory sea snails (Oyster drills) were inadvertently introduced to Willapa Bay by hitching a ride on oysters from Japan. Oyster drills have had a negative economic impact on the oyster industry as they target and kill young oysters. As with many gastropods, these drills exhibit chemoattraction to both distant food and to members of the same species to create breeding aggregations during mating season. We are working to identify such chemoattractants and pheromones to determine if they are able to reduce the drill population on oyster beds. As a result, we have observed an alarm response in oyster drills similar to what has been described for freshwater and land snails. We have also started to assess the potential use of a molluscide that is currently being used to control quagga and zebra mussels in U.S. waterways.
Research Fast Pitch 2016
Michael McNamara, Providence Cancer Center, Research Fast Pitch Winner
Allison Schaser, OHSU
Morgan Vague, Reed College
Early-Bird (Before October 13)
$60 Members/Students; $90 Non-Members
Regular (October 13 – October 27)
$80 Members/Students; $120 Non-Members
At-Door (October 30)
$110 Members/Students; $165 Non-Members
Read the Event Guide.
12:15 – 1 p.m., Registration and Networking
1 p.m., Introductory Remarks by Governor Kate Brown
1:15 – 3:15 p.m., Company Pitch Showcase
- Owl Insights
3:15 – 4 p.m., Networking and Refreshments
4 – 5 p.m., Company Pitch Showcase
- Sonivate Medical
- Sedia Biosciences
- Hemex Health
5 – 6 p.m., Research Fast Pitch (Researchers present in alphabetical order)
6 – 9 p.m., Bio on the Rocks Networking Event
The Fine Print
One ticket gets attendees into both the programming and networking event. Online registration ends October 27. Please check the website prior to the event to see if tickets are available at the door. Students must show Student ID at the door.