First to See the Light

ST Recognizes 100 Year Anniversary

GREENWICH, Conn., PRNewswire/ — Spencer Trask & Co., a privately held advanced technology company, is recognizing the 100 year anniversary of Albert Einstein’s publication of his paper on quantum theory of radiation with a contribution to the Institute for Advanced Study, where Einstein served as a professor from 1935-1955. Spencer Trask Chairman Kevin Kimberlin helped achieve Einstein’s vision of harnessing the power of light as the co-founder of Ciena.

On March 3, 1917, Einstein postulated how light can result from stimulating excited atoms. As proven by Gordon Gould 60 years later, this “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation” would give way to the invention of the Laser and Optical Amplifier, which are the two foundational elements of the optical communications networks which transport much of the global Internet traffic.

Gould would go on to start the fiber optic communications company Optelecom. His protege and head of Optelecom’s Light Optics Division, Dr. David Huber, began working on a new technology called Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing.

“I first met Huber in the early ’90s at Optelecom, where he demonstrated his light-based communication system,” said Kevin Kimberlin, Chairman of Spencer Trask & Co. “Impressed, I offered to help him develop the system. Together, we founded a new company called Ciena, which was the first to commercialize high capacity optical networking systems based on the optical amplifier,” Kimberlin explained. This was the beginning of the internet as we know and use it today.

About Spencer Trask & Company

Spencer Trask & Co. is a privately held advanced technology development company. The firm works with entrepreneurs, CEOs and corporate partners to start and grow high impact ventures. Spencer Trask & Co. has been instrumental in the formative stage of companies that pioneered many technological and scientific advancements in the field of genomics, the transformation of healthcare, the Internet and open innovation.

The Immune Response Corporation

Revolution in Immunotherapy

DISCOVERY – Non-infectious viral vaccines.

INNOVATOR – In the history of medicine, few figures have had as profound an impact on human health and wellbeing as Dr. Jonas Salk. His polio vaccine breakthrough was the culmination of centuries of research, dating back to Louis Pasteur discovering inoculation. However, Salk’s method was different. He found a way to protect people from viruses without giving them the very disease the vaccine was designed to prevent.

Using this no-infection method, Salk worked with Kevin Kimberlin of Spencer Trask to develop cancer vaccines and an immunotherapeutic to slow or prevent AIDS. They patented and conducted preclinical studies on a cancer vaccine that demonstrated a startling 90% protection against lethal malignancies. 

IMPACT – A fusion of dendritic cells and the cancer antigen, their technology formed the basis for the first FDA-approved cell-based immunotherapy. Over 40,000 men with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer have received the treatment, and it appears especially effective for African-American men who receive a 48% improved survival benefit compared to white men.

The team and facility making this immunotherapy also made clinical and commercial supplies of the first approved gene therapy, the CAT-T drug Kymriah.

The first approved cell-base immunotherapy and gene therapy prompted the FDA Commissioner to say, “New technologies such as gene and cell therapies hold out the potential to transform medicine and create an inflection point in our ability to treat and even cure many intractable illnesses.”

The noninfectious vaccine approach developed by Jonas Salk eliminated polio from the developed countries, his flu vaccine mitigated the effects of influenza for the past 75 years, and finally, the cancer vaccine developed at his Immune Response Corporation led the way to gene, cell-based, and immune therapy innovations that will impact human health for generations. In summary, Salk released the last step in enabling the most important preventative medicine – non-infectious viral vaccination.