RESEARCHER SPOTLIGHT: PART 3
MARK HEIMAN, PHD
The ICBI Experience
There are several advantages that ICBI offers to startup companies, such as access to existing instruments and supplies that are too expensive for beginning budgets. The ICBI culture is one of sharing and collaboration that Heiman states is rare when comparing to incubators where he has worked in the past. A most important advantage of being a scientist at ICBI, in Mark Heiman’s opinion, is access to the IU Health vivarium. Not all life science incubators have this feature, and in Heiman’s case, convenient access to the animals in his study meant that he was able to observe them frequently, providing observations that he would not have made otherwise. For Heiman, this was crucial in his recent work. In preliminary research that led to Scioto’s Phase 1b study, Heiman observed the spontaneous weaning of rat pups who were given SB-121. Rat pups normally transition from breast feeding to consumption of solid food about day 21. Rat pups who were treated with SB-121 were more curious, more exploratory, and transitioned to solid rat chow four days earlier than pups of the same age but treated with placebo. This observation suggested that SB-121 may have a role in neurodevelopment of social behavior. Scioto Biosciences then directed their focus on SB-121 for treatment of social disorders such as ASD.
Another benefit of the ICBI incubator for growing companies includes access to a medical illustrator employed by IU Health, a convenient resource that was tapped by Scioto Biosciences to help explain their research to investors—for those times when a picture really is worth a thousand words. (See example of illustrations in Part 2 of the Researcher Spotlight.)
Additionally, as Heiman revealed, the equipment in common research areas within the ICBI is another plus for company startups trying to stretch their capital, allowing for a more strategic use of company resources.
And finally, the sense of community and being able to exchange scientific as well as business pearls should not be underestimated.