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03-10-2016

Clark Scientific: Spotlight on Startups at Clarkson University Shipley Center for Innovation

Shawn Clark and his team at Clark Scientific combined their expertise with technology to solve a problem that has challenged researchers for many years. This triumph is all the more sweet to Clark because his company is doing its revolutionary work right in his hometown of Potsdam.

Shawn Clark“It's very much an honor to be here in this capacity,” says Clark, who graduated from the pre-med biology program at Clarkson University in 1998. He has a total of five degrees, in fact, including two doctorates.

“My hat and placard have hung in many hallowed universities, but I want to leave my legacy here,” he adds.

His legacy already is amazing, and he's far from done. “Big Data” is the future for many industries but even more relevant to the scientific community, he explains, as is evidenced by the tremendous insights gained from the “Human Genome Project.”

So, he and his colleagues set out with the vision of developing a rapid and efficient process for biochemically profiling a protein. They are now creating the first-ever database of the biochemical parameters for all known proteins, “The Proteome.” Bear in mind that the human body has hundreds of thousands of proteins, not including mutants and variants.

“At the root of our expansive data base is a biochemical profile of each protein, including optimal buffer conditions, cryo-storage parameters and crystallization data," says Clark. "The database also contains a small molecule fragment screening library of 700 individually nominated compounds. These data can significantly reduce the cost and time of protein manufacturing and early stage R&D. The information is already compiled, so companies won't have to go through the arduous process of reinventing the wheel. "

Researchers at Clark Scientific are using the database for asking higher-level questions. For instance, what biochemical parameters identify druggability, the reclassification of proteins or the nomination of a new time release formulation.

Clark Scientific has offices and laboratory space in Clarkson University's business incubator, Peyton Hall. Matthew Draper, executive director of Clarkson's Shipley Center for Innovation, is spreading the word about all the exciting companies that exist in this region and he hopes to hear from more entrepreneurs who want to turn their business plans into thriving businesses.

Clark shares that sentiment. Having the right partners – like Clarkson – makes a big difference, he notes.

The Shipley Center guides innovators through the complex process of commercialization, providing the practical tools to transform their ideas into reality. The Center offers mentorship, as well as information on marketing, patents, and branding, etc.

“The Clarkson University business and research teams that work with the Clark Scientific group are best friends. When we're together everyone is excited and smiling; we feed off that energy,” Clark says.

As with so many things in life, timing is critical.

“I just happened to be up here visiting and by random chance talked about the Start Up New York initiative. Then a week later, I was invited to come here,” he says. “I learned more and fell in love with the opportunities that were available in the area. We've been so blessed in timing and the people we're aligned with.”

Clark Scientific will open access to the lower levels of data that contain thousands of biochemical data points in May of 2016. This information will allow: 1. Researchers to rapidly identify optimal experimental conditions; 2. Managers to confidently nominate programs; and 3. A comparison of current market products prior to purchase.

“Our database is the only one of its kind,” Clark says. “The scope of this undertaking is so large that, until now, no clear technology could have been identified.”

He and his staff of five high-end researchers started developing this technology several years ago. It is just one technology of many they have developed.

“We're in the final stages of securing our technology and partnering with key industrial and academic leaders,” he notes.

Beyond the job opportunities presented at Clark Scientific, the board of Clark has committed to moving their manufacturing plant for Delta Tm Technologies, a second corporation, to Potsdam. Because of the funding opportunities and support, Clark says, “We have brought our production facility, of an alternate corporation, from Boston to this area. It could mean 100+ jobs in total with competitive salaries that would not necessarily require an advanced degree.”

The Clark Scientific board members are devoted to community development and quality of life for their employees. In fact, to date, the board members of all of Shawn Clark’s companies have not received any corporate bonus. Instead, they opted to invest that money into better work conditions and employee interests.

“We have always believed that's the way people should be treated. A happy employee that feels their company is dedicated to them is a much more effective part of the team,” he adds.

A Web site for the company is under construction at www.clarkscientific.com.

For more information on the Shipley Center for Innovation at Clarkson University, go to www.clarkson.edu/shipley.

Photo caption: Potsdam native Shawn Clark has located his company, Clark Scientific, in Clarkson University's business incubator, Peyton Hall, through Clarkson's Shipley Center for Innovation.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/sclark.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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