Success Stories

Kangaroo Keeper


Stephanie Jenkins’ grandson spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) when he was born. This experience inspired Stephanie to go back to school to become a respiratory therapist. After completing her degree, she started working at the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital as a respiratory therapist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where she provides specialized care and treatment to critically ill newborns.

The UK Children’s Hospital provides kangaroo care to the babies in the NICU. Kangaroo care is a method of providing skin-to-skin contact with a parent for as long as possible. The benefits of kangaroo care are substantial, including increasing the babies brain development and emotional development; reducing their stress, regulating their vital signs, and increasing bonding to the parents. Their fine motor skills and cognitive skills are affected for their lifetime. As well as lowering the level of hyperactivity later in life.

Kangaroo care is much more difficult with intubated babies. Because intubated babies are attached to a ventilator, the process is more intensive to prepare and more caution is needed to ensure that the baby stays connected to the ventilator.

Stephanie read an American Academy of Pediatrics article on a 20-year follow-up on kangaroo care versus traditional care.  The study indicated that there were significant and long-lasting effects for the babies 20 years after kangaroo care was given. During her work with using kangaroo care on intubated babies, she wondered if there were more secure items to make the process easier. As she researched, she determined there wasn’t any and decided to start developing prototypes herself. Based on the 20-year study and her research, she became very passionate to find a solution.

Through Stephanie’s compassion for intubated infants and her ingenuity, she developed a prototype that works to provide a more secure method of giving kangaroo care to intubated infants. It is a simple, but very innovative product, which has the clever name of Kangaroo Keeper, which gives a nod to the care that it makes easier to provide. Stephanie aspires for Kangaroo Keeper to be used by all 983 NICU’s in the United States so that all parents of intubated babies can easily provide skin-to-skin contact for them.

Stephanie is thankful for the help that UK’s Office of Technology Commercialization OTC) played in assisting her to get her product to market. She found the experience enlightening and very helpful, especially to have assistance with determining how she should proceed with her product.

Her advice comes straight from Rosalyn Carter, “you have to have confidence in your ability and then be tough enough to follow through.”

Stephanie has participated in the UKAccel program, sponsored by the UK’s Office of Technology Commercialization and the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship. She will be presenting at the end of this month. The goal of the UKAccel program is to help you discover if launching a startup is right for you.

Lexmark Technology Partnership

The University of Kentucky's (UK) Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC)  announces its first-ever license agreement with  Lexmark  International Inc. involving a project led by Joshua Werner, assistant professor in UK’s College of Engineering, exploring the recovery and recycling of precious metals. This agreement is related to and in support of a framework agreement with Lexmark for sponsored research and professional services.


Linda Dwoskin

UK Women Innovators Spotlight: Linda Dwoskin

Dr. Linda P. Dwoskin holds an endowed University Professorship in graduate medical education at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. Dr. Dwoskin has been a trailblazer for women in technology transfer at UK. Her entrepreneurial journey began when a company licensed a UK patent on which she and her colleague Peter A. Crooks were inventors. The patent was on several of their smoking cessation products. Drs. Dwoskin and Crooks decided to start up a company called Yaupon Therapeutics. Their business model was patterned after the National Institute of Health's (NIH) business model for grant applications using the "just-in-time" approach. Dr. Dwoskin noted the importance of having a business person involved from the beginning since as an academic researcher she wasn't trained in business. According to Dr. Dwoskin, she was able to learn a lot about business that she didn't know through the partnership and collaboration with the business person who was the CEO of their company. In their third year, Yaupon Therapeutics won the prestigious Best LifeSciences Start-up Company of the Year at the Eastern Technology Council's 13th Annual Enterprise Award, which created interest from venture capitalists. Eventually, Yaupon Therapeutics was sold to another pharmaceutical company, Actelion.

Dr. Dwoskin believes that to date her most significant accomplishment has been the U19 award from the NIH on the discovery of selective nicotinic receptor antagonists. Dwoskin’s team of investigators were successful in obtaining cooperative program project funding aimed at discovering a new class of smoking cessation agents. At the time, this grant was the biggest grant the UK College of Pharmacy had ever received. Several compounds discovered as part of this project are now being used as pharmacological tools and are sold by Sigma.


During her time at UK, Dr. Dwoskin became the first woman appointed as associate dean of research at the UK College of Pharmacy, and she has paved the way for more women to achieve success. Although she spends much of her time and effort in her field of research, she also has become a leader and mentor to many young women. She takes the time to encourage them to go after the careers they want to pursue, and not to let apparent obstacles get in their way. Dr. Dwoskin also provides professional advice and assistance to women in science at other universities that she meets in her professional travels. Dr. Dwoskin was recognized at the Office of Technology Commercialization's (OTC) event, Patent Palooza! Tuesday, for reaching twenty patents issued through the University of Kentucky.

Meghan Marsac

Helping Children and Families Cope with Medical Conditions

Meghan L. Marsac, Ph.D., is a pediatric psychologist at UK Healthcare and has developed a product called the Cellie Coping Kit to help pediatric patients and their families cope with and manage the challenges of dealing with a medical condition.

The Cellie Coping Kit was inspired by some of Marsac’s pediatric patients dealing with cancer. While doing her fellowship training at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), she noticed that many of the families faced similar challenges, but they weren’t given the tools to manage those challenges. While working with kids, Marsac is always on the lookout for a creative way to teach helpful strategies and to empower parents to support their children.

Based on Marsac’s observations, she started out with the design for a stuffed animal. Her aunt, Anne Vinsel, who is an artist and worked in the hospital at the time, created the “Cellie” toy, which she sewed by hand. Once the cards for the kids and the book for the parents was developed, the Cellie Coping Kit came into existence.

Meghan Marsac has a passion for helping children and their families deal with medical conditions. The Cellie Coping Kit is a tool that helps her do this. While pursuing her work at the University of Kentucky, she read an article on OTC executive director, Ian McClure, and decided to enroll in the UKAccel program to determine if starting her own company to sell the Cellie Coping Kit herself would be her best next step.

She decided to go through the UKAccel program, so she could receive guidance for people who have expertise in a wide variety of areas. She believed that the program, which provides a plan over 90 days, would help her move the product forward. She hoped the program would help her better explore the commercialization of the product and help her take steps toward creating a new business model on sustainability.

Meghan said that she learned “innovative approaches on how to present information to a diverse audience and applied those approaches to her work in academics.” She said that the UKAccel program is a great way to add to your skillset, translate science into innovation and move products based in science to market with a manageable time limit. In working with OTC, she said that the staff was very helpful in moving ideas forward.

In speaking about how to make the most of the program, Meghan said “the more you dedicate to it the better the opportunities. Go into it with an open mind regarding the potential new directions. It empowered me to take the next steps and equipped me with ideas to create a sustainable plan to increase our reach to better serve more families with children.”

Meghan graduated from the UKAccel program on April 26, 2019.

To learn more about the UKAccel program, click here.

Thoroughbred Carbon Sciences LLC


What does a University of Kentucky (UK) Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship (VACE) Bootcamp project, UK research and patents, two Chicago entrepreneurs, and bourbon have in common? Stillage.

Stillage is defined as the mash from alcoholic fermentation after removal of the alcohol in a still. It is waste from breweries and distilleries that is hard to dispose of. With the help of VACE’s Bootcamp, UK students developed a business model around a UK patented process to take bourbon stillage and produce high-quality activated carbons. This business model was used by the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) to recruit two entrepreneurs from Chicago and start the business.

Those two Chicago entrepreneurs are Robert A. Moore (Bob) and Gary Cullen. In Bob’s career, he has formed an investor group, served as the chief financial officer and then the chief executive officer for a technology company, and was a chief financial officer and managing director of a startup intellectual property licensing company. Gary was a partner at international law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and is now a private investor and entrepreneur.

Bob and Gary have known each other for 35 years and have been talking about partnering for four years when the stillage-to-activated-carbon business model was brought to their attention. Because disposal of stillage is expensive and a major issue for distilleries, they saw the potential. After meeting with inventor Dr. Steve Lipka on multiple trips to Lexington, together they started a company called Thoroughbred Carbon Sciences LLC (the Bootcamp project was previously called Stillage Solutions). Taking stillage and other feedstock and modifying based on UK’s patent-protected approach, the company can create carbons and market in several applications.

The bourbon industry is growing which will increase the amount of stillage that needs to be disposed of. Being able to take a waste and convert it into carbons is environmentally friendly, and helps since the industry is bracing for stricter environmental regulations. The carbons created from stillage can be used for water filtration, high energy storage devices (supercapacitors), fertilizer, black paint (used at horse farms), air filtration, dry lubricants, and in several automotive applications.

Since Bob and Gary started Thoroughbred Carbon Sciences LLC (TCS), they spend three-four days a week in Kentucky and have met with the University of Kentucky, distilleries, Governor Bevin and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development (CED), the Kentucky Distilleries Association (KDA), and companies that may have a use for the activated carbons produced by the technology. They have had many positive conversations and are excited about the next steps to making this a reality. They are working on building a pilot plant in Kentucky to serve as a model for several full-scale plants located at or near several distilleries.

According to Bob and Gary, it takes a lot of work to do a startup and you need to be ready for it. It is important to create a culture of working hard and smart and being focused.  In discussing this opportunity and the work it has taken to get it started, Bob said “working with Ian McClure and the OTC team has been terrific. They’ve been very business minded and incredibly responsive. We couldn’t ask for more.”

Thoroughbred Carbon Sciences LLC has a bright future in Kentucky and will bring something wasteful (stillage) into something useful (carbons) that can be utilized in many different applications.

UK Startups Receive SBIR/STTR Matching Funds

UK Startups Receive SBIR/STTR Matching Funds

The University of Kentucky Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) is pleased to announce that six of the 10 high-tech Kentucky companies receiving $2.18 million in Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) match funding are UK startups.

"SBIR/STTR funding provides a critical class of early-stage financing for scalable, technology-based startups that allows founders to mitigate technical risk. Kentucky’s SBIR Matching Funds program leverages federal SBIR funds to enable Kentucky startup founders to create business models through which their novel technologies solve marketplace problems. Collectively, these funds position Kentucky technology-based startups to attract private capital from investors and strategic partners that will accelerate the startup toward commercial success,” said Eric Hartman, associate director for OTC’s New Ventures and director of Co.Create.

The funding program is overseen by KY Innovation within the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and matches all or part of federal SBIR/STTR awards received by Kentucky-based companies or companies that commit to relocation in the state.

The following UK startup companies have been chosen to receive the matching funds:

  • Bluegrass Advanced Materials LLC is developing an oral rinse compound with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to delay or reduce the severity of oral mucositis ulcers after anti-cancer chemo and radiation therapies. The compound provides prolonged coverage to the treated area reducing the need to reapply and resulting in patient relief.
  • Enepret Incorporated extracts a yeast-derived hydrocarbon oil that stimulates the immune system increasing the effectiveness of vaccines. The work is targeted for flu vaccine efficacy.
  • Gismo Therapeutics created molecules that inhibit the binding and buildup of Alzheimer’s causing compounds. It is a novel therapeutic approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Lepidext LLC focuses exclusively on the development of a biological insect control agent, which targets corn earworm and cotton bollworm because of challenges developing resistance to both conventional and transgenic toxins. The product improves the way lepidopteran pests are controlled and reduces the dependency for genetically modified plants and chemical sprays with the long-term goal of eliminating the need for them.
  • PowerTech Water developed a salt-free water filtration system that can isolate one or target many contaminants at once. With no consumables and a system not inhibited by other constituents in the water, the technology has applications in both industrial and residential settings.
  • Signal Solutions LLC is simplifying and streamlining animal research using noninvasive sensors to monitor physiological outputs. The company develops sensor technology to monitor respiratory parameter in research animals for studies where respiratory deficiency is a primary or secondary characteristic of disease.

"The SBIR program has historically been a very pivotal program for many startups with technology from UK, and the Commonwealth’s SBIR Match program compounds the effectiveness for its recipients and creates the type of trajectory our UK startups need. We are thrilled to see the awards from this program cycle once again support numerous UK technologies with high potential for market impact. UK OTC congratulates the many UK faculty inventors and entrepreneurs that have been awarded, and we also congratulate the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development for its great leadership in continuing this program,” said Ian McClure, director of the Office of Technology Commercialization.

The Office of Technology Commercialization is the technology transfer office for the University of Kentucky. The core mission of the OTC is to facilitate the commercialization of UK innovations and discoveries for the benefit of the university community, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and global society.

Wild Dog Physics LLC

How an Energetic Open-Minded Spirit Developed a Revolutionary Approach to Cancer Care

Cancer is a prevalent disease in the world, and radiation therapy is a common and effective form of cancer treatment. In radiation therapy, medical accelerators aim beams of high energy particles at tumors to destroy or damage cancer cells while avoiding damage to important healthy normal tissue. Radiation treatments for many patients can take several times a week for many weeks.

Janelle Molloy, Ph.D., DABR, professor of radiation medicine and director of medical physics at the University of Kentucky Radiation Oncology department, is the founder of Wild Dog Physics, LLC. Being a physicist and working in radiation medicine provides a unique opportunity to utilize one’s problem-solving skills to innovate and commercialize because they really know what the problems are and have to technical skills to solve those problems. According to Molloy, “the point of research is to change someone else’s behavior, and there is no better way to change behavior than to commercialize a product.”

Wild Dog Physics, LLC is in the very early stages of changing the approach to cancer care through a Quality Assurance (QA) Integrator. The QA Integrator is being developed to provide more precise and efficient cancer care by overcoming some of the challenges in providing high-level cancer care. One of the major challenges it looks to solve is reducing the work time from eight hours to 30 minutes and providing more complete and better data that is automatically analyzed and regulatory compliant. It also can reduce costs by providing only one device, instead of many. This device was a response to seeing her team struggle for many hours doing QA on a medical accelerator after regular working hours.

The QA Integrator combines several pieces of equipment to make it more efficient and effective to use by taking all the data automatically. Janelle finds joy in building new things and helping those who need it most. This device has the potential to help underserved communities with very little resources and provide better access to technology in the United States and internationally. She worked with Drs. Quan Chen and Dennis Cheek from her team to create this technology.

Janelle has taken full advantage of the resources at the University of Kentucky and the community. She recently graduated from the UKAccel program, a partnership between the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) and the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship (VACE). She also won the top prize of $1,000 at the 5Across pitch event and is currently participating in VACE’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.

She has been very impressed with how supportive the University of Kentucky and Lexington community have been and feels optimistic and energized when participating in these programs. When asked what advice she would give to someone interested in commercializing and starting their own company, Janelle said “Do what you want to do. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.” She has had opportunities to mentor young physicists and has seen how her influence in her department has provided opportunities that wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t been there.

Wild Dog Physics LLC was named as a nod to her very energetic dog Holly, and a nod to the energetic, open-minded spirit she wants in her startup company. “Being here in the land of the Wildcats, I thought it was time to have a wild dog,” said Janelle.