Stories of Medical Innovation

Pappas Capital and Wake Forest Innovations Announce First Investments by the Catalyst Fund

Pappas Capital and Wake Forest Innovations today announced the first technologies to receive initial investment from the Catalyst Fund, the $15 million technology development program established by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in October 2015.

Six early-stage novel technologies, all invented at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and being developed through Wake Forest Innovations, will receive a combined $595,000 investment from the Catalyst Fund to support their initial development.

The proprietary technologies are:

  • Primary Hyperoxaluria Two orally bioavailable small molecules targeting a novel metabolic pathway with the potential to prevent and treat recurrent kidney stones in a rare genetic disorder that often requires kidney and liver transplantation. Inventor: W. Todd Lowther, PhD.
  • Mechanical Tissue Resuscitation – Invented by the originators of the successful V.A.C.® technology, Mechanical Tissue Resuscitation applies a novel negative-pressure approach to heal and preserve vital tissue in the heart, brain and spinal cord that has been compromised or injured. Inventors: Louis Argenta, MD, and Michael Morykwas, PhD.
  • KPC34 – An orally active, small molecule orphan disease therapeutic with a novel dual mechanism of action for the treatment of blood and other cancers that overcomes common cancer resistance mechanisms. Inventor: Gregory Kucera, PhD. Innovator: Timothy Pardee, MD, PhD.
  • eCOMPASS – An Electronic Health Record-integrated electronic application for chronic medical conditions, like stroke, that allows health care providers to generate patient-centered care plans based on social and functional determinants of the individual’s health at the point of care. Lead Inventor: Pamela Duncan, PhD, PT. Research team: Cheryl Bushnell MD, MHS; Allison Brashear, MD, MBA; Scott Rushing, BS; Ralph D’Agostino Jr., PhD.
  • Fix8 non-migrating stent – A non-migrating stent that uses anchoring hooks to secure the device in a desired location to avoid unwanted migration, promising to improve patient outcomes in a number of clinical applications including colorectal, biliary, ureteral diversion, pancreatic duct, and bariatric surgery. Inventors: Clifford Howard, MD; Philip Brown, MS, PhD.

Each project will receive initial support from the Catalyst Fund of between $50,000 to $150,000 to help advance the technology to the next stage of development. Pappas Capital’s Peter Young, the Program Manager of the Catalyst Fund, said the program expects to support up to 25 early-stage technologies at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center over the next three to five years.

“This inaugural round of project funding launches a new and innovative way of developing life science technologies within an academic medical center,” said Young. “One of the Catalyst Fund’s most significant and exciting points of differentiation from other early-stage development approaches is its flexibility to continue investing in promising technologies to maximize their impact and value.”

The Center for Technology Innovation & Commercialization, part of Wake Forest Innovations, works with faculty and staff at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to help move product ideas through the various stages of technology evaluation, development and commercialization. Services provided include patent protection, market analysis as well as preclinical and clinical development, all culminating in the potential licensing of the technology to industry, including startups. The Center handles all proprietary technologies of the Medical Center, including therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics, medical devices and digital health technologies.

“The goal of the Catalyst Fund is to maximize the clinical impact and value of new technologies invented at the Medical Center, make them attractive to industry and medical practice, and build awareness of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Winston-Salem as a high-profile hub for life science innovation,” said Jeff Brennan, vice president, technology innovation & commercialization, Wake Forest Innovations. “It is designed to attract both interest in our technologies and direct participation in their development by industry and community partners.  We are extremely excited to begin putting the Catalyst Fund to work.”

Media Contacts:

Ford Worthy
Pappas Capital

James Patterson
Wake Forest Innovations


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Joe McCloskey

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