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October 8th, 2009
Cory Berkland's interest in business developed during his graduate engineering studies and blossomed into two companies, within which he still plays an active role. While Berkland was working on his Ph.D. in chemical and biological engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, faculty members there started a company that incorporated Berkland's research on fabricating micro- and nanostructures from biodegradable polymers. That venture didn't succeed, but it "opened up my eyes to the possibility of starting a business," says Berkland, now an assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
In March 2007, 4 years after earning his Ph.D., Berkland and biotech veteran George Laurence started Savara Pharmaceuticals, now headquartered in Austin, Texas.
The company applies Berkland's work making nanoscale particles to pharmaceuticals. Some drugs are better administered as a dry-powder inhalant than as a water-soluble compound, but controlling the size of the dry-powder particles has been difficult. Savara's technology, based on Berkland's research, provides control over the particles' size and prevents them from clumping together, making delivery of the drug more effective.
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