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Science & Tech

Professors Work to Develop Better, More Effective Vaccines That Could Eliminate E.coli and the Flu

Farmingdale State professor J. Robert Coleman looks through glass at test sample in medical lab.

Coughing, sneezing and wheezing – you don’t have to be told these are symptoms of the flu if you’ve had it recently. But getting the flu may become a thing of the past. That is, if Farmingdale State College Biology Professor J. Robert Coleman has anything to say about it. And while he’s at it, he may help stamp out the unseemly ailment caused by the bacteria E. coli too.

He plans to do it as part of Codagenix, Inc., an upstart biotech company he co-founded by in 2011, in partnership with Stony Brook University and research professors Dr. Steffen Mueller and Dr. Eckard Wimmer. Codagenix is working with breakthrough technology to develop new vaccines that are the perfect antigenic match to the target infectious disease.

J. Robert Coleman of Farmingdale State and Codagenix stands next to his lab equipment.

J. Robert Coleman, biology professor at Farmingdale State and co-founder of Codagenix, stands next to his lab equipment.

“Some diseases have no vaccines, and some vaccines currently on the market are ineffective in certain populations,” says Dr. Coleman, who joined the Farmingdale biology faculty in 2011. “Our mission is to improve human health by commercializing our technology to make better, more effective vaccines.”

The work on an E. coli vaccine just took a giant leap forward with a two-year, $600,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, which will be shared by Codagenix and Farmingdale. FSC will conduct in vitro research to support the grant. The grant – which brings the total funding Codagenix has received from the NIH to $1.6 million – will help get the E. coli project off the ground. But the $600K is only the initial support that Codagenix hopes to leverage to attract additional public and private investment.

“The clinical trial process for vaccine development and approval can be long and costly,” Dr. Mueller, Chief Scientific Officer of Codagenix, says. “It will require external investment and most likely an eventual partnership with a large pharmaceutical partner.” Dr. Coleman adds that “While the clinical development process may seem daunting, we are confident in our vaccine candidates and believe that with the right backing they represent a destabilizing technology that will provide vastly improved vaccines.”

Codagenix was founded to commercialize a vaccine platform technology developed by Dr. Wimmer, Stony Brook University Distinguished Professor, and his collaborators. Codagenix is currently headquartered at the Long Island High Technology Incubator (LIHTI) in Stony Brook. LIHTI is a non-profit organization that helps establish new tech companies by providing them with resources and services. Dr. Coleman and Dr. Mueller worked alongside Dr. Wimmer in his academic lab to perfect the technology, and then launched Codagenix so they could commercialize this SUNY Research Foundation technology platform for making better vaccines.

Dr. Coleman hopes to include Farmingdale students in this ground-breaking work. After all, he says, he was just a graduate student when he began working to develop this technology, and he hopes to provide FSC students with the same opportunity.


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Written by Farmingdale State College

Farmingdale State College plays a critical role not just in teaching its students, but in shaping them. At Farmingdale, you will enjoy small, personalized classes that prepare you for a successful career through the use of real-world technologies and critical thinking.

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