Our Strategy at Work
The following case studies illustrate successful collaborations between academia, industry, entrepreneurship, and capital - uniting key components for innovation.
The Foundation will help fill funding gaps in this ecosystem.
In 2006, a helmet-to-helmet collision gave high school football player Cody Lehe a severe headache, and he asked to see a doctor. A CT scan showed no damage and he was cleared to play. The next day, Cody took a second - but minor - hit during practice. Couple with the undetected concussion from the day before, Cody experienced a traumatic brain injury. Now, over ten years later, Cody cannot walk alone, and can barely remember things that occurred earlier in the day. In recent years, media coverage of the devastating effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has grown dramatically. Researchers have now turned their attention to subtle damage caused by mild-to-moderate concussions over time, which often go undiagnosed and untreated. Undiagnosed concussion victims often resume dangerous activity, and if they experience a subsequent blow to the head - like Cody - it can lead to a lifetime of mental and physical impairment, or even death.
But there is good news: researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have achieved a breakthrough in TBI diagnostics: a transcranial imaging device that can analyze metabolic damage accurately. Through their partnership with a for-profit company formed by UCLA faculty and alumni, along with financial support from the UCLA VC Fund, the problem of undiagnosed TBI could become a distant memory.
Sara Ringer's life had been affected by Crohn's disease since she was a toddler. Crohn's disease affects the gastrointestinal tract as inflammatory bowel disease. It took doctors ten years to accurately diagnose her condition. She endured a decade of incorrect diagnoses, chronic pain, internal bleeding, severe weight loss, multiple hospitalizations, emergency surgeries, transfusions, and intravenous feeding - not to mention the challenge of trying to navigate her way through high school and college. However, an artificial anti-inflammatory antibody was developed by New York University (NYU) researchers to treat a wide range of autoimmune diseases, including Crohn's disease.
The NYU discovery was supported by the NYU Innovation Venture Fund and then commercialized. The drug - REMICADE - is now used to treat more than 1.3 million people worldwide.
Sara currently undergoes regular REMICADE infusions, along with a regimen of vitamin supplements and strict nutrition to bring her once-incapacitating symptoms under control. Now, Sara has a growing career in the beauty industry and is an outspoken activist, with counseling and motivational speaking engagements to help others cope with this debilitating ailment.