Monday, October 20, 2008
For the first time in the 13-year history of the University of Maryland Baltimore's Founders Week awards, a winner has received back-to-back honors. J. Marc Simard, MD, PhD, professor of Neurosurgery, Pathology and Physiology, has been named the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year. The University recognized Simard for discovering, testing and patenting a novel ion channel in brain and nerve cells and for creating an opportunity for industry to develop this discovery into a wide range of new treatments. In 2007, Dr. Simard was also honored as Research Lecturer of the Year.
This year’s award is for Dr. Simard’s work with Remedy Pharmaceuticals, which was established in 2004 to develop treatments based on his discoveries. Remedy is using Dr. Simard's research to create what it hopes will be a groundbreaking treatment for stroke, spinal cord and traumatic brain injury. "There's not much that can be done with injuries of that sort right now," Dr. Simard admits. "We think our discovery will open new therapeutic pathways and give victims of these debilitating and often fatal injuries options for a better quality of life."
Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, is confident that Dr. Simard's work can succeed. "Dr. Simard is one of the university's most productive innovators and inventors, with 30 patents issued or pending," he said. "Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Simard, Remedy is finalizing a $22 million round of financing to fund a Phase II clinical trial, which is the next step in regulatory approval. Unfortunately, not much help is available now for patients with these types of injuries. Their hope lies with visionaries like Dr. Simard who work tirelessly at giving stroke victims the chance to be whole again."
Remedy Pharmaceuticals is now housed in the university's Bio Park 2, where Dr. Simard's award was announced at a breakfast in his honor. "We're very proud we've been able to build this bio park to allow people like Dr. Simard to develop their ideas and turn them into something of value in the marketplace," said David J. Ramsay, DM, DPhil, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Since 1996, the University has recognized three categories of excellence during its Founders Week: Teacher of the Year, Research Lecturer of the Year, and Public Servant of the Year. In 2006, the University added the Entrepreneur of the Year Award to honor a faculty member (or members) who show creativity and resolve in taking basic research from the lab to the marketplace. Two of the three Entrepreneur of the Year winners have been from the School of Medicine (Dr. Simard and 2006 honoree Alessio Fasano, MD, who helped establish Alba Therapeutics to move his celiac disease research from bench to bedside).
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