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UMBC Research Proves Valuable to Large Companies

One of UMBC’s top revenue-generating technologies has just been licensed for the third time, this time to GE Healthcare. This demonstrates that the university’s strong efforts to commercialize its research are paying off.

“UMBC benefits from technology transfer not just in measurable dollars from licensing revenue but also by building relationships with companies,” says Wendy Martin, director of technology development at UMBC.

The technology allows companies to use an external sensor to measure a range of environmental factors including pH, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels in cell culture. The sensor peels and sticks to the inside of the plastic or glassware. The entire vessel is then sterilized and sold to the customer. The sensor works by looking for a specific fluorescent signature associated with each environmental factor.

“It works much like a bar code scanner,” says Govind Rao, a professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at UMBC who developed the technology after almost 20 years of research.

Prior methods required scientists to use something like an “electrical dipstick.” That is, says Rao, “they had to place a corded, electrical probe into the cell culture,” risking contamination of the entire culture. “It’s like moving from a corded phone to a cordless phone,” he says.

Because the adhesive probe allows scientists to avoid costly contamination it saves companies millions in labor and materials. For the general population this means that the time to market for new drugs can be reduced -- an innovation that positively impacts human health.

Posted: September 29, 2011, 12:00 PM