2012 Kauffman Foundation Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Awards Recognize Entrepreneurship Excellence in Researchers

Release Date: 3/14/2012

Media Contacts
Barbara Pruitt, Kauffman Foundation, (816) 932-1288, bpruitt@kauffman.org
Cathee Johnson Phillips, National Postdoctoral Association, 202-326-6427 or 712-574-0245, cjphillips@nationalpostdoc.org

2012 Kauffman Foundation Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Awards
Recognize Entrepreneurship Excellence in Researchers

SAN FRANCISCO (March 14, 2012) — The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation will recognize two entrepreneurs on Friday, March 16, 2012, at the NPA's 10th Annual Meeting at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 450 Powell Street, San Francisco, Calif. Crystal Icenhour, Ph.D., president and chief science officer for Phthisis Diagnostics, Charlottesville, Va., is the 2012 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur, and Elizabeth Iorns, Ph.D., co-founder and chief executive officer of Science Exchange, is the 2012 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur. 

The presentation will take place during the meeting’s opening session, which will begin at 9 a.m.

Dominique Pahud, director of Advancing Innovation at the Kauffman Foundation, will present the awards. The award program, now in its third year, is part of the Kauffman Foundation's ongoing effort to cultivate the entrepreneurial potential of researchers and scientists across the United States. As part of this effort, Icenhour will receive a $10,000 honorarium, and Iorns will receive a $2,500 honorarium.

“Postdoctoral scholars who take the entrepreneurial path bring enormous promise to society and the economy,” said Pahud. “We hope these awards will encourage entrepreneurial excellence throughout the scientific community.”

The Outstanding award recognizes entrepreneurs with companies at least three years old and who have completed postdoctoral training at some point in their careers. The Emerging award recognizes new entrepreneurs who may still be in the midst of postdoctoral training.

The selection cmmittee for the Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur included Zoe Fonseca-Kelly, Ph.D., senior research fellow, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and chair of the 2011 NPA Board of Directors; Avi D. Spier, Ph.D., director of Business Development, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF); and Noah Weisleder, Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer, TRIM-edicine, and the 2011 Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur.

The selection committee for the Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur included: Fonseca Kelly, Garth A. Fowler, assistant chair and director, MS Program, Department of Neurobiology, Northwestern University and treasurer of the 2012 NPA Board of Directors; Stacy L. Gelhaus, Ph.D., research assistant professor, Department of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh, and treasurer of the 2011 NPA Board of Directors; and Jason K. Holt, Ph.D., founder/chief technology officer, NanOasis Technologies, Inc., and the 2011 Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur.  

The call for nominations for the 2013 Kauffman Foundation Outstanding and Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur awards will be announced this summer.

About the Award Recipients

Crystal R. Icenhour, Ph.D.Crystal R. Icenhour, Ph.D., currently serves as president and chief science officer for Phthisis Diagnostics, a biotechnology company located in Charlottesville, Va. Phthisis Diagnostics is a research and development company focusing on development of easy-to-use, cost-effective molecular diagnostics for various infectious diseases. These simple diagnostics will focus on diseases of public health importance and will facilitate clinical adoption of modern, accurate diagnostics. Phthisis launched its first product, the E-Sphere® Stool DNA Extraction Kit, in May 2011 after just 18 months of development time. To date, the company has received more than $3.5 million in grant funding and angel and Series A investments.

Icenhour received her Ph.D. in Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine from the University of Cincinnati Medical School of Graduate Studies in 2002. She conducted postdoctoral research in the Thoracic Diseases Research Unit at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine from 2002-2005 and in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Duke University Medical Center from 2005-2006. Icenhour has been involved in local and national postdoctoral associations including serving as president of the Mayo Research Fellows Association Executive Committee, as chair of the membership committee for the Duke University Postdoctoral Association and as chair of the 2008 NPA Board of Directors.

Elizabeth Iorns, Ph.D.Elizabeth Iorns, Ph.D., is co-founder and chief executive officer of Science Exchange, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. Science Exchange is an online marketplace for scientific experiments and brings together thousands of core facilities and commercial scientific service providers at one convenient site, http://ScienceExchange.com. By providing project management tools and a cross institutional payment platform, Science Exchange makes it easy for researchers to access the global network of scientific resources and experimental expertise. To date, the company has received more than $1.5 million in venture capital and angel investments.

Iorns has a B.Sc (Hons) in Biomedical Science from the University of Auckland and a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the Institute of Cancer Research in London. She conducted her postdoctoral research in Cancer Biology at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. Her research has focused on identifying mechanisms of breast cancer development and progression. Based on her own experiences as a young investigator seeking core facility capabilities and collaborations outside her home university, she co-founded Science Exchange in 2011. She has received a range of honors, including the Institute of Cancer Research Chairman's Prize for Best Graduating Ph.D. student, the Expedition Inspiration Fund for Breast Cancer Research Young Investigator Award and a Postdoctoral Fellowship Award from the U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. She was the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine Nominee for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Future Leaders in Transitional Research Special Symposium.

About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people's eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. In addition, the Foundation focuses on initiatives in the Kansas City region to advance students’ math and science skills, and improve the educational achievement of urban students, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, a college preparatory charter school for middle and high school students. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org, and follow the Foundation on www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

About the National Postdoctoral Association

The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA), headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit national organization of postdoctoral scientists, postdoctoral administrators, faculty, research universities, professional societies, and other supporters dedicated toward improving the postdoctoral experience. The NPA is a member-driven organization, with the work largely done through standing committees. Since its founding in 2003, the NPA has assumed a leadership role in addressing issues confronting the postdoctoral community that are national in scope, requiring action beyond the local level. Key alliances are being forged at all levels, and new standards and policies proposed by NPA are being considered and adopted by federal agencies and research institutions through the United States. For more information on the NPA, visit www.nationalpostdoc.org.

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