The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved two University of Georgia professors as Regents’ Entrepreneurs at its Dec. 1 meeting. Professors Steven Stice and Biao He, from the colleges of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, respectively, are the first two UGA selections for a designation that was adopted by the board in February 2022.
The Regents’ Entrepreneur distinction recognizes faculty who have demonstrated success in translating research into a commercial setting. It lasts for an initial period of three years that can then be extended by the board and provides a one-time, $10,000 cash award.
“A culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is central to the University of Georgia’s strategic research goals and land-grant mission,” said Karen Burg, vice president of research at UGA. “Dr. Stice and Dr. He have demonstrated exceptional skills at moving ideas from their labs through the pipeline to where their innovations can best impact people in their daily lives. They are incredibly deserving of this honor.”
Stice, D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor and GRA Eminent Scholar Chair in Animal Reproductive Physiology, as well as director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center, has co-founded five companies and been issued 69 domestic and international patents. His first company, Advanced Cell Technologies, was the first to secure a U.S. patent on animal cloning and therapeutic cloning from adult animal cells.
His current company, ArunA Bio, focuses on drug treatments for neurodegenerative and neurological disease and is beginning its first clinical trials in 2023.
Stice’s startups build upon his expertise in pluripotent stem cell biology. His lab develops novel therapies and new technologies for drug screening and neurodegenerative disease, which has impact in treatment of Parkinson’s disease, stroke injury and Alzheimer’s.
“Being one of the first recipients is truly an honor, and there are many to thank, including past and present students, fellow faculty, administrators, employees and, mostly, my wife,” said Stice, a fellow in the National Academy of Inventors and former UGA Inventor and Entrepreneur of the Year. “Being an entrepreneur is in my DNA. My father was an inventor and patent attorney, so my brother and I cut our teeth at the dinner table talking about inventions and what makes a good patent. My brother has been part of the success at two of the companies we have spun out of UGA.”
He, Fred C. Davison Distinguished University Chair in Veterinary Medicine and a faculty member in the Department of Infectious Diseases, has co-founded three companies, including current ventures CyanVac and Blue Lake Biotechnology. These companies develop human and animal vaccines, including an intranasal treatment against SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. CyanVac began phase 1 clinical trials of this vaccine in humans in 2021.
He has additionally served on a White House panel to advise on the future of COVID-19 vaccines and, like Stice, has been named both UGA Inventor and Entrepreneur of the Year.
“Since joining UGA in 2009, I have enjoyed working at the university,” He said. “I attribute the progress I have made to my wonderful collaborative colleagues and very supportive leadership from my department, the college and the university. They have encouraged and enabled me to pursue commercialization. Establishing this award is a clear signal that UGA cares about entrepreneurship, and I hope many more of my colleagues will join me in the future.”