Robert Ivarie

Robert IvarieInventor’s Award 2007

Robert Ivarie, Professor and Head, Department of Genetics, is being recognized for anumber of inventions and novel methods to genetically engineer chickens as bioreactors for the low-cost production of proteins that have therapeutic potential for humans. Ivarie has five issued U.S. patents and14 pending U.S. patent applications. His inventions led to the founding of AviGenics, Inc., a biotechnology company currently housed in UGA’s Georgia BioBusiness Center in Athens. The company generates transgenic chickens by injecting engineered retroviral particles under the blastoderm, the layer of cell from which the chick will develop, of a freshly laid egg. After injection, the egg is sealed using a hot glue method, another of Ivarie’s inventions, which greatly increases the hatch rate. Chicks carrying specific DNA sequences inserted into their genome by the retrovirus (i.e., transgenic chicks) develop into mature chickens that will lay eggs having egg whites rich in the desired proteins. Other inventions are related to the design of DNA fragments that allow for proteins of human therapeutic value to be produced in high yields in the white of eggs laid by these transgenic chickens. His inventions related to transgenic chickens, chicken embryos and chicken cell-lines also led to the production of purifiable human interferon in high yields, are remarkable feat in biotechnology. Ivarie was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2006.