Like most difficult things, commitment from everyone involved is crucial. CoMotion has been completely supportive from the beginning as we built our scientific platform and our foundational intellectual property. They connected us with our founding CEO Bill Watt (PhD, UW 2003) and supported the effort to spin out EpiThany, including drafting the key patents and licensing them into the company. We then grew into a core group of leaders including Bill and David Poston, Mike Gallatin and Marty Simonetti — a fantastic group of Seattle biotech veterans. There have been ups and downs, but we’re all still here to see the science be brought to patients, which is usually what catalyzes the commercial activity.
What CoMotion services and resources have you used and how did they help?
In 2013, we started working with CoMotion to draft some new patent applications. CoMotion moved these forward and we all thought it looked so promising that it should be spun out, so they handled the applications and provided financial support for Bill to focus on making a company. We made pitches to some investors at CoMotion events who then became Board members of the new company, EpiThany. From there, CoMotion supported the expansion of the patent family until EpiThany could pay the costs back, which was essential for the company’s ability to engage investors and partners. We had some of our most promising investor pitches in CoMotion conference rooms. CoMotion was supportive and crucial in many ways.
What do you like most about working with CoMotion?
The relationship approach works with CoMotion. It hasn’t been easy trying to commercialize, but we maintained open and regular communication with the CoMotion team and received constant support. People like Fiona Wills, Dennis Hansen, Christine Hurdle, Robyn Adams, Sara Burmeister and others all offered congratulations when we pushed something across the line. In times when things were unsure, they offered help. As we continue to make new science, it’s clear that CoMotion shares our enthusiasm and wants to be part of the journey.
Background and Bio:
Dr. Disis is the Helen B. Slonaker Endowed Professor for Cancer Research at the University of Washington (UW), Associate Dean for Translational Health Sciences in the UW School of Medicine, Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Pathology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at UW and a Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She is also the Director of UW Medicine’s Cancer Vaccine Institute.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska Medical School, Dr. Disis completed an Internal Medicine residency and Chief Residency at the University of Illinois, and completed an oncology fellowship at the UW/FHCRC.
Dr. Disis’ research interest is in the discovery of new molecular immunologic targets in solid tumors for the development of vaccine and cellular therapy for the treatment and prevention of common malignancies. In addition, her group evaluates the use of the immune system to aid in the diagnosis of cancer and develops novel assays and approaches to quantitate and characterize human immunity. She holds several patents in the field of targeted cancer immunotherapy and immune-based diagnostics.
Dr. Disis is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. She holds a leadership award from the Komen for the Cure Foundation and is an American Cancer Society Clinical Professor. Dr. Disis is also the Editor-in-Chief of JAMA Oncology.
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About UW CoMotion: CoMotion at the UW is the collaborative innovation hub dedicated to expanding the economic and societal impact of the UW community. By developing and connecting to local and global innovation ecosystems, CoMotion helps innovators achieve the greatest impact from their ideas and discoveries.