Not-for-profit startup aims to evaluate Purdue drug compounds before clinical trials

December 16, 2015  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Entrepreneurs have launched a nonprofit startup that will option Purdue University-discovered drug compounds and could shepherd them through proof-of-principle clinical trials.

Timothy L. Ratliff, co-founder of Boilermaker Health Innovations, said researchers at Purdue receive money to discover compounds that could address a variety of health conditions including Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diabetes and more.

"Once a compound is discovered, there are different steps to evaluate its efficacy, to examine how it is distributed through the body and to determine its toxicity," said Ratliff, the Distinguished Professor of Comparative Pathobiology in Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine and the Robert Wallace Miller Director of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research. "Researchers cannot receive funding from external agencies to do that, however. Many compounds never reach the public because of this lack of funding."

Ratliff co-founded Boilermaker Health Innovations with Philip S. Low, the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in Purdue's College of Science and the director of the Purdue University Center for Drug Discovery. The company has received support from Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub. More than 20 startups were launched during the 2015 fiscal year. A video about Boilermaker Health Innovations is available at

Low said Boilermaker Health Innovations selects which drug compounds to option based on a committee's evaluations.

"The drug evaluation committee comprises six individuals who have taken more than 35 drugs to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval," he said. "They evaluate compounds that have been discovered and developed at Purdue, then select the best to move forward. There are several options in the pipeline available to Boilermaker Health Innovations."

Ratliff said Boilermaker Health Innovations is a 509(a)(3) company, an IRS-approved structure that allows benefactors to make tax-deductible donations. He said the company isn't bound to work with compounds based only on the level of profit they may garner on the market.

"We are not focused only on having a big market, blockbuster drug. We have much more latitude about what we do. We can go into niche markets and we're fine with that if we're helping people," he said. "If we're successful, we'll generate the funding we need to support moving drugs forward. There are a lot of good things at Purdue that are ready for the next steps."

Low said Boilermaker Health Innovations seeks financial support as leaders look to option their first Purdue-discovered drug compound.

"For the next six months Purdue Research Foundation has committed to match the support we receive from outside sources, up to $1 million," he said. "If we can get a compound through a Phase I trial, it could be sold to an established pharmaceutical manufacturer or spun off into a for-profit company. That will generate income, which will be reinvested into more Purdue drugs by Boilermaker Health Innovations. We are hoping to build up a nice number to support our research and development in a way that hasn't been done before."

For information on other Purdue intellectual property ready for licensing and commercialization, visit For more information about available leadership positions, investing in a Purdue startup or licensing a Purdue innovation, visit

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342,

Sources: Timothy L. Ratliff, 765-494-9129,

Philip S. Low, 765-494-5273, 

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