Alumni Spotlight: Torigen Pharmaceuticals

Author: Rebekah DeLine

Ashley Photo

Ashley Kalinauskas is a 2012 graduate of the University of Connecticut, with a B.S. in Pathobiology. She spent the last year working on the commercialization strategies for Dr. Suckow’s cancer vaccine portfolio as part of her ESTEEM Capstone Thesis Project.  Torigen was awarded second place in the McCloskey Business Plan Competition with winnings over $32,000.   Since graduating from ESTEEM, Ashley has been working full-time as its CEO preparing to launch Torigen’s first product VetiVax into the market.
Torigen Pharmaceuticals is a company focused on providing veterinary cancer care solutions for companion animals. Torigen’s first product, VetiVax, is a kit sold to veterinarians that uses a portion of the animal’s own tumor cells to create an individualized immunotherapy against their cancer. Each year, over 2 million companion animals are diagnosed with cancer, and over 40% of dogs and cats will develop cancer in their lifetime.  Chemotherapy and radiation are the standard of care treatment options, but these are expensive (exceeding $10,000), and often have severe negative side effects. The VetiVax Treatment Kit is sold to the end client for under $1,000, and has been shown to have virtually no negative side effects. VetiVax offers personalized medicine to the veterinary market and shows a new innovative process in how we fight cancer today.
Torigen Pharmaceuticals and the launch of its first product Vetivax are the director result of Ashley's work in ESTEEM and the research of Professor Mark Suckow, DVM, the Director of Freimann Life Science Center and a Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Notre Dame.
Dr. Suckow says of his experience working with ESTEEM: “The ESTEEM program is an exciting way to join enthusiastic, talented young science entrepreneurs with faculty scientists as a way to commercialize laboratory discoveries. My research results would likely remain in a notebook on a shelf if not for the energy of ESTEEM students. Under the guidance of experienced mentor entrepreneurs, Ashley Kalinauskas (an ESTEEM student) learned about my technology, developed a business plan which was successfully presented at the McCloseky Business Plan Competition, and is in the process of executing that plan. To my amazement, Ashley created a business which has attracted the interest of investors and is moving forward with her plan tocommercialize my work. ESTEEM has brought my research to an exciting place where my ideas can be translated into solutions."