Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) recently hired Kenneth Karanja as a new licensing associate to help faculty, staff, and students evaluate innovations developed in the lab for potential intellectual property rights (IP) and to commercialize new technologies and inventions.

Karanja holds a doctorate in biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics and two master of science degrees in medical device innovation and food and agricultural science. He has spent the past two years as a technology analyst intern and food science and nutrition postdoctoral scientist at the University of Minnesota, where he developed new medical devices to address obesity and diabetes. The technology has been licensed and is being developed through a new startup company, MAR2K Concepts.

At the California Institute of Technology, where Karanja was a post-doctoral scholar in chemistry, he served as a consultant for a medtech startup developing technologies for a microfluidic based diagnostic device for HIV/AIDS and malaria. He also secured a patent for biomedical methods for enhancing the survival of Fanconi Anemia cells with potential application in cancer patients.

Medical technology is Karanja’s area of expertise, but he has experience analyzing patentability and commercial potential for a wide variety of university-generated technologies, including cancer therapeutics, transcriptomics, protein analysis, plant genetic engineering, and software.

“Kenny is a fantastic addition to the UIRF licensing team,” UIRF Associate Director for Licensing Jane Garrity said. “The researchers we work with will definitely appreciate his enthusiasm and openness in helping them find the right partners and applications for their inventions. He also brings to the team a broad network and knowledge base in the medical devices industry.”

Karanja said he has a passion for new medical technologies, as well as the ability to recognize inventions with commercial potential and work collaboratively with researchers and businesses to develop these inventions. He hopes to bring as many new technologies from UI scientists to the market as he can, through both licensing to existing companies and the creation of new startup companies, improving the health and lives of Iowans and Americans across the country.

“That’s my passion—to bring innovations from the lab to the market and solve real-world problems,” Karanja said.

The UIRF is part of the Office of Research and Economic Development, which provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.