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Q&A with KCV Innovation Fellowship Graduate Christopher W. Lennon

Christopher, an assistant professor at Murray State University, participated in the fall 2022 cohort of the KCV Innovation Fellowship. Read about Christopher's experience below.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you decided to apply for the KCV Innovation Fellowship?

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Murray State University. Some of my research has to do with the development of novel methods for protein purification. I decided to apply for the KCV Innovation Fellowship as a means to better understand intellectual property and potential commercialization of my research.

What idea or project did you explore as part of the fellowship?

My idea was to produce insulin to treat diabetes in humans while charging much less than other companies.

Why did you decide to explore this idea?

It is estimated that over 100,000 people die per year in the U.S. because they can’t afford to properly treat their diabetes due to the cost of insulin. For example, the cost of a commonly used insulin biosimilar increased in price over 1500% from 1999 to 2019. This appears largely due to greed by the drug makers, as the same products are sold in places like Canada and Europe at approximately one-tenth the cost. Several common U.S. insulin products have no patent protection, so these drugs can be produced by other companies.

How did the KCV Innovation Fellowship help you further develop your idea?

As an academic scientist, I’ve rarely thought about the potential commercialization based on my skillset. The KCV Innovation Fellowship provided valuable information and training to develop my idea, culminating in a business pitch.

Why do you think innovation is important for Kentucky?

Kentucky’s universities have tremendous untapped potential. Developing homegrown products and companies will not only help our students and citizens, it will attract new innovators to our state.

What’s next for you as you explore this idea?

I plan to further investigate the feasibility of producing insulin and providing it to the consumer at substantially lower cost, eventually obtaining funding to pursue this idea.


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