Robin Polt, Brain-Penetrating Drugs
Dr. Robin Polt is a professor and research scientist with appointments in Pharmacy and Toxicology and is a founding member of the BIO5 Institute. His research focuses on molecules involved in chronic and neuropathic pain, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Parkinson’s, and vascular dementia. This work has given rise to “glycopeptide drugs” for the treatment of numerous diseases and syndromes. He gave them this name because they use the brain’s own hormones and neurotransmitters to be converted into brain-penetrating drugs.
Intellectual property emerging from Dr. Polt’s lab has led to the launch of several startups. GlycoSurf produces environmentally friendly glycolipid-based surfactants based on methodologies that the Polt lab developed and the startup licensed from the university. ProNeurogen is commercializing the first drug, which uses a proprietary brain penetrating hormone, for a form of Alzheimer’s disease called vascular dementia. He is currently working with Tech Launch Arizona on the launch of another startup aiming to commercialize treatments for stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and Parkinson’s Disease.
As a mentor, Polt has trained hundreds of undergraduates and Master’s students, and more than 20 of his students have earned their Ph.D. in his lab. Students he has mentored have gone on to take leadership positions at government agencies such as the FBI and FDA; at companies like Roche, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Gilead, Merck and Pfizer; and at academic institutions such as BYU, USC and Columbia University.
“It is so gratifying to be recognized today for the application of my ‘crazy ideas’ that I had more than 20 years ago,” Polt said. “I hope this will encourage younger inventors to endure, even if your best ideas are not immediately recognized.”