IU chemistry professors David E. Clemmer and Martin Jarrold will receive the Wylie Innovation Catalyst Medal along with IU alumna and retired venture capitalist Jane Martin during an event Monday.
The award, presented for the first time in 2020, is given to IU friends, faculty and alumni for commercial and innovative ventures that contribute to the university.
Clemmer is recognized for his work with ion mobility spectrometry, while Jarrold primarily works with charge detection mass spectrometry.
Clemmer said he and Jarrold have worked together for nearly 30 years, first when Jarrold was Clemmer’s postdoctoral advisor at Northwestern University. The two formed Megadalton Solutions in 2018, the first company that can measure the masses of genetic therapies, Clemmer said.
“It’s still a very new startup company,” Clemmer said. “But it’s had quite a bit of success.”
Megadalton Solutions developed a gene therapy technology and recently licensed it to the Waters Corporation, a laboratory instrument company. The technology can be used to determine the molecular weights of gene therapy products and any molecular weight that’s very large, such as viruses. Jarrold said he believes this advancement was what mainly contributed to him and Clemmer receiving the award.
“It’s had a fairly significant impact on understanding how viruses assemble and disassemble,” Jarrold said.
The two hired Ben Draper, an IU alumnus who graduated with his chemistry Ph.D. in 2018, for Megadalton around the time of the company’s founding.
“They’re both brilliant,” Draper said. “I’d say they’re very deserving of the Wylie Medal. I think Martin joked that they couldn’t find anyone else to give it to, so he got it by default. But I think that’s just some of his humility shining through.”
Draper said Jarrold and Clemmer gave him an advantageous opportunity and their work shows other students how many opportunities they have in research.
Clemmer said while receiving the award is flattering, the most rewarding part of his time at IU so far has been teaching his students and working with others.
“It’s a pretty cool thing to have a mission where you get to do research and collaborate with people that are doing really innovative things,” he said.