The room at Boise Centre on the Grove was artistically lit on Tuesday with hues of blues and reds and tables were set with autumn-inspired flower arrangements in honor of the Idaho Tehchnology Council (ITC) Hall of Fame banquet and the Idaho Innovation Awards.
Among the guests at the ceremony were representatives from Boise State, the University of Idaho, the College of Western Idaho, Hewlett-Packard, Healthwise, TW Telecom, Balihoo as well as representatives from several elementary schools throughout Idaho.
The key note speaker was Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group an Co-Founder of TechStars.
He is a venture capitalist, who strongly supports new innovators and their businesses.
Feld resides in Boulder, Colo., where he is heavily involved in the entrepreneurial environment.
His message to Boise State students: “Try to spend as much time as possible on things you’re passionate about.”
Part way through the ceremony, the category for the Early-Stage Innovation of the Year award was announced.
Three innovators were nominated for the award, including one of Boise State’s own: Juliette Tinker, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences.
Tinker was nominated for the Early-Stage Innovation Award because of her work producing a vaccine that prevents Staph and MRSA infection in both humans and dairy cows.
Her competitors in the category were WhiteCloud Acute Foundations by WhiteCloud Analytics, and Wireless Spectrum Communications.
The master of ceremonies, Jason Prince of Stone Rives, LLP., announced there was a tie: Juliette Tinker and WhiteCloud Acute Foundations both won.
Other categories included Innovative Company of the Year, won by ClearWater Analytics, and Innovator of the Year, won by Les Cullen, president of Castlerock Building Products, Inc.
Two men were also inducted into the ITC “Hall of Fame.”
The first inductee, Forrest Bird, created a tiny ventilator small enough for a newborn and which has been credited with reducing infant mortality caused by respirator problems from 70 percent to 10 percent.
Bob Lokken , the second inductee, developed several data technologies that have changed the software analytics industry.
After the ceremony a brief reception ensued. There was a feeling of excitement and creative energy in the air.
“When my husband and I moved here in 2006, Boise reminded us of Silicon Valley 30 years ago,” said attendee Karen Meyers. “We just need to do more of these type of gatherings to bring these people together more often than once a year.”
Tinker said she was surprised and ecstatic to have won.
“It was great, really an honor. It was fantastic just to be nominated. I hope it stimulates some interest in the community,” she said.
Tinker said she realized the need for such a vaccine when she was a post doctorate fellow at the University of Colorado.
Both infections are strains of Staphylococcus aureus and are responsible for the loss of approximately 11,000 lives every year in the United States and pose a potential economic loss in the billions of dollars for infected cattle.
The infections are antibiotic resistant, and although they naturally colonize about a third of our population without incidence, if the infection gets into an open wound it can cause a lot of problems.
Research has found genetic issues may also play a part in a person’s ability to fight a staph infection.
She began studying a molecule called Cholera toxin, and was able to detoxify it so it could be used to stimulate immune response, a quality required in order to produce a vaccine.
The vaccine is currently in the PreClinical phase.
The next step for the will be the Clinical Phase trials, which are very big, very expensive and means getting involved with a pharmaceutical company.
Tinker said she will be happy to let the pharmaceutical company take over when it reaches this point.
She will then focus her attention on some of the other vaccines she is working on, including a vaccine to prevent West Nile Virus and another vaccine to prevent the bubonic plague.
Her West Nile Virus vaccine is also in the PreClinical phase, and she has submitted it for publication but it has not been accepted yet.
Her vaccine for the bubonic plague, (also known as the Black Death), only has between 5 to 7 cases every year in the U.S.
However, since the 9/11 attacks, there has been renewed interest in developing a vaccine because of the potential for it to be used as a bioweapon.
This vaccine is still in the developmental stage.
Tinker is married with two children, ages 4 and 6.
She teaches Microbiology, Pathogenic Bacteriology, and Vaccinology at Boise State.
In her free time—when she is not busy researching more ways to save the world from deadly diseases—she enjoys spending time with her family, camping, playing tennis, and golfing.
Tinker also sits on the Ada County Immunization Advisory Board, where she educates the public about vaccines, reaching everyone from new mom groups at St. Lukes Hospital to skeptics throughout the