Success Stories

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BioSurfaces, Inc.

In business since April 2003, BioSurfaces is dedicated to developing new and innovative medical devices using its patented cutting-edge biomaterial technologies. Using technology developed jointly with, and licensed from, Clemson University and the University of Rhode Island, BioSurfaces is working on a truly innovative product that will have a substantial impact in biomedicine.

It entails the production of small-diameter artificial arteries. Even though artificial arteries have been in use since the 1950s, they have been of the large-diameter variety made of Dacron or Teflon. But replacement arteries near the heart or below the knee, for example, call for smaller diameters, and until now no one has been able to make them clinically acceptable because of their high failure rate. The only option, therefore, has been to harvest a patient’s own veins and hope those veins are suitable for the need at hand.

That is where BioSurfaces found a great application for the technology in which Clemson played a major role.

The artificial artery’s base material is a fine-mesh, modified polyester. But there’s more to the story. The technology also allows the incorporation of antibiotics, antifungals, gene sequences such as silencing RNA, and anti-clotting proteins into the artificial arteries. Such additions can aid in the proper healing by the patient’s body.

The product is still in the early testing phase, but it represents a large potential market. “It’s sort of the Holy Grail in the biomedical industry,” says Matthew Phaneuf, president and CTO of BioSurfaces. “The ability to use an artificial material ‘off the shelf’ and implant it would be much better than trying to harvest the patient’s own veins. It really changes the whole grafting process in a very positive way.”

Omnibond Systems Back to top »
When Clemson University needed authentication software for its UNIX and Windows systems—allowing students and faculty to access the University’s Collaborative Learning System from any location—it developed a program called AuthServ. Over the years, the program evolved into a provisioning solution for LINUX/UNIX mainframes and other systems, but it still provides some authentication functionality.

Recognizing the wide applicability of the software, a university startup—Omnibond Systems—was created to market it. Because the software deals with computer infrastructures in general, Omnibond Systems provides its product to a range of clients, not just academic institutions. After a few years, the company entered into a marketing agreement with Novell, Inc., the Utah-based corporation specializing in network operating systems.

Omnibond Systems represents a nontraditional entry in CURF’s portfolio, as does Storage Tek: Their products did not come about through laboratory research, but out of a need to support the University’s own computer infrastructure.

Today, Omnibond Systems symbolizes yet another CURF success story.

Storage Tek Back to top »
Not having a commercially available product at the time to meet its mainframe-computer needs, Clemson University developed its own library-management software in the 1980s. The application proved to be of such high quality and usefulness that it was eventually licensed to Storage Tek, a company that had been marketing mainframe tape libraries and disk subsystems for many years.

Later acquired by Sun Microsystems, Storage Tek is a major vendor of computer storage systems, and Clemson’s software remains an integral part of the company’s product line.

The Storage Tek effort remains one of CURF’s most successful licensing achievements.

Call Me Mister Back to top »
A few years ago, South Carolina was last in the nation in placing male teachers in our children’s classrooms, particularly at the early-child and elementary school levels. To address South Carolina’s need for qualified teachers, particularly in underserved schools, Clemson University developed a teacher-recruitment program called Call Me MISTER (“Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models”). It has become a remarkable success story.

That success can be attributed, in part, to the program’s collaboration with other institutions in the state—two-year technical colleges, four-year private colleges, and four-year public universities. Those institutions serve as initial points of contact in the recruiting effort. To be considered for acceptance into the “MISTER” program, a student must first be accepted for enrollment into a participating college or university and have applied for financial aid. At that point, interested students are referred to the program at Clemson, where they are screened for selection.

As part of the acceptance requirements, students must commit to giving back a year of service—teaching in an underserved school—for each year of financial support they receive. That commitment also includes such activities as participating in seminars throughout the year, attending statewide summits, volunteering in schools, and accepting summer internships. “The program’s success is very gratifying,” says Dr. Roy Jones, executive director of the program. “Our graduates actually continue to teach beyond their obligations.”

In 2001, the program was selected to be a part of the Oprah Winfrey Angel Network and has received widespread national recognition through national print and electronic media outlets.  Under a licensing agreement, the Call Me MISTER program is now available at various national partner schools around the country. And even though the program continues to support and encourage the recruitment of African American males to the teaching profession, the success of the program and its national growth have resulted in a level of interest not limited by race and gender.

CU Chefs Back to top »
In many households today, the time constraints imposed by employment and other commitments have rendered the nutritious home-cooked meal a vanishing species. The typical recourse these days is for families to eat out, often at fast-food restaurants. These high-fat, high-cholesterol, high-calorie meals, however, have contributed to a decline in our nation’s general level of health.

To combat this trend—beginning at the local level—Clemson University’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition began a program called “Cooking with a Chef” in 2001. Its goal was simple: to reach out to the community to encourage not only more cooking at home, but more healthful cooking. The program encouraged people of all ages to gain confidence in their cooking skills, to actually enjoy cooking, and to learn which ingredients to keep on hand.

That first offering also marked the start of what became known as “CU CHEFS,” which stands for “Clemson University Cooking & Healthy Eating Food Specialists,” an umbrella brand that today encompasses several outreach programs, locally and nationwide.

Program participants—individuals and families—receive hands-on training from a professional chef who teaches them how to prepare quick, easy, healthful meals at home. To provide additional information and answer any questions about good nutrition and health, a nutrition educator attends the sessions, too. CU CHEFS also works with churches and community centers, and it has attracted many participants to its “What’s Cooking?” program held at supermarkets. CU CHEFS’ next goal is a pilot program for K–12 schools.

Branding of the program has been important in associating the expertise of Clemson’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition with a quality educational product.  This allows for greater breadth of delivery and recognition for Clemson’s strength in this core area.  Given its high attendance and completion rates, CU CHEFS has proved immensely popular and successful. “It’s successful because it’s fun,” says Dr. Marge Condrasky, the program’s director.

Math Out of the Box Back to top »
The signs are not promising: Students entering middle school are unprepared for “gatekeeper” courses such as algebra. Test scores in math continue to point to a discouraging achievement gap between diverse populations, and companies find they have to provide remedial math education for their new employees. These and other signs point to a disturbing conclusion: The quality of math education is insufficient in meeting our nation’s ability to compete economically in an increasingly high-tech world.

To meet this challenge, Clemson University brought together the expertise of teachers, researchers, corporations, foundations, and others to develop a standards-based K–5 curriculum that makes math fun and meaningful—and students love it. Called Math Out of the Box, it reflects the core values of the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics prepared by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

An inquiry-based product, Math Out of the Box allows students to work with hands-on materials, connect diverse mathematical ideas, and engage in mathematical discussions. In different modules or “strands,” it covers the development of algebraic thinking, geometric thinking, measurement benchmarks, and number concepts. To make the most of the program, Math Out of the Box also guides teachers—who are often inadequately trained in math—in the use of research-based strategies.

Math Out of the Box has been used successfully in South Carolina and New Jersey, and projects are in place in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Oregon. It represents a nontraditional yet highly important product in CURF’s technical-scientific portfolio. This technology has been exclusively licensed to Carolina Biological Supply Company.