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University Relations

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Nov. 18, 2005
Contact: Kevin Boatright, KU Center for Research, (785) 864-7240.

Val Stella recognized with inaugural KU Technology Transfer Leadership Award

LAWRENCE -- Valentino J. Stella, a distinguished professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Kansas and inventor of drugs to treat epilepsy and AIDS, is the first recipient of the KU Technology Transfer Leadership Award, presented Nov. 17 at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics.

The award, an inscribed medallion featuring KU's Dyche Hall on the front, was presented by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger as part of a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the federal Bayh-Dole Act.

That legislation, co-sponsored by former Kansas Sen. Robert J. Dole, shifted ownership and control of patents stemming from federally funded research to the institution that performed the research. Previously, federal agencies retained patent rights, resulting in few commercial applications. Passage of the Bayh-Dole Act led to a major expansion of technology transfer and licensing efforts at KU and other universities nationwide.

Stella, a native of Melbourne, Australia, received a degree in pharmacy from the Victorian College of Pharmacy. He completed a doctorate in analytical pharmaceutical chemistry at KU in 1971, where he studied under Takeru Higuchi.

Stella had served two years on the faculty at the University of Illinois Medical Center when Higuchi convinced him to return to KU. Stella has remained here ever since. Along with Higuchi, for whom KU's Higuchi Biosciences Center is named, Stella co-authored "Prodrugs as Novel Drug Delivery Systems," a book that triggered a resurgence of interest in this area of research.

Stella went on to invent or co-invent drugs for the treatment of epilepsy and AIDS. He also developed a new agent, Captisol, which is used to dissolve drugs for injection.

During his tenure as director of KU's Center for Drug Delivery Research (1989-99), Stella spun off three companies: CyDex, CritiTech and ProQuest. He also obtained seven patents and developed a series of modified cyclodextrins that are the basis of several pharmaceutical products.

The KU Technology Transfer Leadership Award was presented to Stella in recognition of his "dedication to the commercialization and dissemination of technology for the benefit of society." His influence as an educator and mentor extends around the world, with more than 170 former graduate students now working in 15 countries.

The event, "Bayh-Dole at 25: Promoting Innovation to Benefit Society," was organized by the KU Center for Research, with sponsorship by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.

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