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Katie Brenner

Katie Brenner, a postdoctoral researcher in the biochemistry department, and her team of co-founders won the 2015 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest last week for an app-based device to help women monitor their fertility.

Brenner is a scientist in the lab of Doug Weibel, biochemistry associate professor. The pair co-founded bluDiagnostics to commercialize the technology. The bluDiagnostics Fertility Finder is a thermometer-like device that measures two hormones found in a woman’s saliva, estradiol and progesterone. Results are then available through an app on a mobile device and can also be sent to a physician.

The bluDiagnostics team, which also includes Madison-based Jodi Schroll and Kate Toews, submitted its idea to the contest and was selected from an initial pool of 238 entries. The team is now looking to raise funds to manufacture a prototype and apply for Food and Drug Administration approval by late 2016.

“The award reflects months of hard work by an amazing team, surrounded by talented mentors, and encouraged by the fantastic entrepreneurial climate at UW-Madison and in Wisconsin,” Brenner says. “We are very grateful to be part of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Community, among many people who are working hard to make the world a better place.”

Last fall, she was one of five researchers in the U.S. chosen for the prestigious Women in Science Fellowship from L’Oreal USA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her work developing a test for detecting early signs of infection in premature infants.

Brenner is also a 2014 alumna of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, offered through the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship in the Wisconsin School of Business.

Before being announced the winner, Brenner had joined 13 finalists – including several others with UW-Madison ties – in presenting business plans to a panel of judges and conference attendees at the Alliant Energy Center.

The other finalists with connections to CALS include:

  • Menachem Tabanpour, research specialist in the lab of soil science professor Phil Barak and president of Nutrient Recovery and Upcycling, LLC.
  • Cheryl Vickroy, AmebaGone. Vickroy teaches technology commercialization in the master of science in biotechnology program. AmebaGone was founded by bacteriology professor Marcin Filutowicz, who serves as the company’s chief scientific officer.

For information about the other finalists, read the full UW-Madison news release.

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