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Release: Immediate

Biomedical research 'spin-off' company to affiliate with UI Technology Innovation Center

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The state Board of Regents has approved a lease that will enable Quorum Sciences, Inc. of Iowa City to become a corporate affiliate of the University of Iowa (UI) Technology Innovation Center (TIC) on the Oakdale Research Campus in Coralville.

The lease of laboratory and office space in the UI Multi-Tenant Facility at Oakdale is effective Oct. 1.

Quorum Sciences, Inc. is a "spin-off" from research in the laboratory of E. Peter Greenberg, professor of microbiology in the UI College of Medicine. Quorum Sciences was established in April 1998 to develop technology in the area of chemical signaling in bacteria. Quorum's mission is to utilize bacterial cell signaling pathways as a basis for the development of new classes of antibacterial therapeutics and industrial products.

Quorum's founders are Stephen Turner of Gaithersburg, Md., a long-time biotechnology entrepreneur; and Greenberg of Iowa City.

Turner, who received a bachelor's degree from Stanford, is founder and chairman of numerous life science companies, including Bethesda Research Laboratories, OncorMed, Oncor, Inc., and Codon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Greenberg received a bachelor's degree from Western Washington University, a master's from the UI, and a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. He joined the UI faculty in 1988. Greenberg is an acknowledged leader in the field of bacterial autoinduction. His discoveries represent the core technology that Quorum has licensed from the UI Research Foundation.

"We will focus initially on development of novel anti-microbial compounds to treat Pseudomonas aeruginosa which cause lung damage in patients with cystic fibrosis and cause serious infections in other compromised people," said Greenberg.

Turner said the company's initial funding is being provided by private investors and by contractual agreements with pharmaceutical companies.

"There is an urgent need for advanced technology that will provide new ways to treat bacterial disease, especially since new strains of bacteria are resistant to our antibiotic regimens," said Turner. "Dr. Greenberg's technology of identifying and blocking bacterial cell signaling is revolutionary in its promise, and we believe will meet this need. Quorum is proud to be a member of the growing Iowa biotechnology community," Turner added.

One of the UI's technology transfer programs, the TIC was established in 1984 to nurture new technology-based business ventures and to encourage those companies to establish relationships with the UI.

With the addition of Quorum Sciences, Inc., the TIC will have 18 tenant companies. Thirteen TIC "graduate" firms remain in business after leaving the incubator.

For additional information, contact Ute Muh, laboratory director Quorum Sciences, Inc. (319) 335-4450 or Tom Bauer, associate director of the TIC at (319) 335-4067.