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ASU faculty members receives prestigious Tibbetts Award for work with BioStrategies, LC


Arkansas State University’s Dr. Carole Cramer, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and College of Agriculture and Technology, and Dr. David Radin, the former Commercial Innovation Director of the Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI) on the ASU campus, have been awarded the prestigious Tibbetts Award by the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) in Washington, D.C., for their work with BioStrategies, LC. 

BioStrategies, LC, recognized as a “Model of Excellence,” joins 18 small businesses and six individuals who were honored.

The Tibbetts Awards, presented by the SBA, recognize and honor small businesses and individuals who participate in the SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“Small business innovation is a driving force in achieving excellence as it relates to transfer of technology from the academic lab to the industrial environment,” said Dr. Andy Novobilski, interim associate vice chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer, interim Chief Research Officer, and Dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. “This award recognizes a senior scientist at ASU who has encouraged this pathway to innovation on our campus.”

The Tibbetts award is named after Roland Tibbetts, who played a key role in developing the SBIR program. Winners are selected based upon the economic impact of their technological innovation and on whether they have met federal research and development needs.

“The SBA’s SBIR program has been fundamental in jump-starting our biotech start-up companies and our ground-breaking research,” said Dr. Cramer.  “It is wonderful to be recognized by this prestigious award.” 

Drs. Cramer and Radin, along with BioStrategies, LC, are credited for genetically engineering tobacco to express the human enzyme glucoceribrosidase. If mutations to glucoceribrosidase occur, they can cause Gauchers disease, a rare genetic disease usually fatal in childhood. Gauchers can be treated with enzyme replacement therapy. This research was first conducted at CropTech, a company founded in 1993 by the two researchers. Now, work is being done on the Arkansas State University campus.

Cramer came to ASU from Virginia Tech upon being named executive director of ABI in 2004. Well-known in the field of biotechnology, she is also recognized internationally as a leader in the area of plant-made pharmaceuticals. She has done extensive research involving the use of tobacco plants to produce therapeutic proteins and vaccine components for medical and veterinary applications.  Her Gauchers disease discoveries are expected to result in the first plant-made therapeutic protein to attain FDA approval for human use later this year. 

In 2010, Cramer decided to step down from her position as ABI director and to focus her attention to research and teaching. Radin’s and Cramer’s research has laid the groundwork for a new multi-billion dollar international biotech industry with the possibility of creating thousands of high-wage jobs.

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