UW Today

This is an archived article.

October 15, 2009

Inventor of the Year Awards honor work on cystic fibrosis drug

Drs. Bonnie Ramsey, Arnold Smith and Bruce Montgomery will be honored at with UW Medicine’s Fifth Annual Inventor of the Year Award celebration, Monday, Oct. 26, at the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. A reception will be held in their honor from 6 to 8 p.m.


The Inventor of the Year Award is given to a person who has translated research from the bench, through partnerships with the biomedical industry, to a product or process that has had a major impact on health care.


Ramsey and Smith are both professors of pediatrics at the UW. Ramsey is director of the Research center for Clinical and Translational Research at Seattle Children’s, where she works in the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic. Smith is director of the Center for Childhood Infections and Prematurity Research at Seattle Children’s. Ramsey and Smith will receive the Inventor of the Year Award.


Mongomery, a well-known Seattle entrepreneur and inventor, will receive the 2009 Special Honoree Inventor of the Year Award. He is Gilead Sciences’ senior vice president and head of Respiratory Therapeutics. He devoted his career to developing cystic fibrosis drugs and moving into commercialization.


The trio of scientist-inventors developed TOBI, an aerosol version of tobramycin to treat Pseudomonas aeruginosas, an often fatal respiratory infection in patients with cystic fibrosis. Using this new inhaled form of tobramycin avoids many systemic toxic effects, such as severe kidney damage, and improves the lives of patients with cystic fibrosis.


Smith created and refined the inhaled aerosol version of tobramycin. Ramsey conducted early clinical trials and, with its national scope, revolutionized the trials standards and process. Montgomery was responsible for moving TOBI through patent approval, as well as through development and refinement of the concept into a product with commercial potential.


From the work at Seattle Children’s, PathoGenesis was formed to commercialize TOBI. PathoGenesis grew to become a significant biotech firm with Bruce Montgomery serving as executive vice president for research and development.

The benefits that have been derived from this model of university-business community collaboration reach beyond the health and social benefits of saving lives and decreasing hospitalizations. The collaboration has brought financial capital to the region that has impacted employment, real estate development, and the economy.

TOBI royalties have enabled construction of new research laboratories for Seattle Children’s and attracted increases in National Institutes of Health research. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation royalty sale proceeds have been used to fund therapeutics and clinical trials network development at Seattle Children’s. Current annual income from TOBI is pproximately $300 million, some of which is being used to develop new cystic fibrosis drugs.


For more information about the Inventor of the Year Award and the inventors, click here.

To register for the complimentary Inventor of the Year Award reception, click here or contact Barbara Mahoney at bmahoney@uw.edu or 206-543-7718.