OU intern does triple duty at 2016 biotechnology convention
By Jim Stafford
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
SAN FRANCISCO — For University of Oklahoma graduate student Amanda Curtis, the 2016 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) show required some unique multi-tasking skills.
Curtis greeted visitors to the Oklahoma exhibition booth. She participated in Oklahoma Bioscience networking events. And she sat in on multiple partnering meetings with her colleagues from OU’s Office of Technology Development.
All in a day’s work.
“Since I’m an intern with them, one of my duties is to pitch OU’s research to potential partners,” Curtis said on Wednesday morning. “So I’m currently pitching some cancer therapies that OU is working on. I had two meetings yesterday, and I have three meetings today.”
The road to BIO 2016 began for Curtis on the campus of Oklahoma State University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in molecular biology.
Working as an undergraduate researcher in conjunction with OSU professor Glenn Zhang, Ph.D., the pair developed an all-natural alternative to antibiotics for livestock and launched a startup called Nutripeutics to advance the technology.
After graduation from OSU, Curtis, 26, began working on a master’s in business administration at OU, along with a master’s in information technology. She was team leader of an OU team that developed a business plan around the Nutripeutics concept and competed in the 2016 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup competition.
The Nutripeutics team placed second in the High Growth Graduate Division, then competed in the Tri-State competition in Las Vegas. Along the way, Curtis was awarded a Paulsen Scholarship by the Oklahoma Business Roundtable, which provided her the opportunity to speak at the organization’s annual meeting.
“I gave a quick, little two-minute pitch, and the CFO of Love’s approached me afterward and wanted to get me an interview with the CEO of Love’s to see if he could help out in any way,” Curtis said.
That meeting is scheduled for Monday.
Meanwhile, the OU internship led her to be part of the OU team that came to the BIO show with the OKBio group. She described the experience as “phenomenal.”
“I’ve been to a trade how before, but nothing like this,” Curtis said. “The fact entire countries are represented here is amazing. And the fact that Oklahoma is represented next to Taiwan and the Czech Republic is huge. That really speaks a lot about the Oklahoma bioscience economy that’s really developing.”
Curtis’ impression of the BIO convention is not unique among the Oklahoma contingent of more than 60 people. For example, veteran entrepreneur Craig Shimasaki, CEO of Oklahoma City’s Moleculera Labs, had a similar take after leading a seminar Monday on “Brain and Behavior” and conducting a book signing Tuesday.
“There is no one other place where you can meet dozens of people, literally from around the world,” Shimasaki said. “It’s great.”
For all of the Oklahomans here, there is a sense of pride that the state is a player on a worldwide bioscience stage such as this.
“I’m really proud of Oklahoma and its bioscience community,” Curtis said.
“I hope I can foster that entrepreneurial spirit, especially the bioscience realm. I would love for Oklahoma to be known as not the oil state, but as a bioscience state.”