Dr. Elizabeth Hood, the Lipscomb Distinguished Professor of Agriculture at Arkansas State University, received a pair of patents in the field of plant biotechnology and agriculture, according to the school. The two patents were issued in 2017.
The first, regulatory sequence of cupin family gene, has potential applications in the pharmaceutical industry as well as large-scale processing operations. Cupin genes are responsible for making proteins in seeds that feed the seed when it germinates, and their controlling regions are useful to agriculturists to make proteins of interest accumulate to high levels in the seed, according to the school. This mechanism could be used to produce research chemicals, processing enzymes and industrial enzymes.
The second, methods of expressing and detecting activity of expansion in plant cells, helps to make large amounts of the protein expansion, which is normally available in scarce quantities. The protein assists with breaking down of plant bodies into sugars so they can be fermented into biofuels. Applications include biofuel production with post-harvest leftovers, which could lower the barriers for production of an alternative fuel source.
“The patents recently awarded to Dr. Hood are evidence of the leading-edge research being conducted in the area of agricultural biotechnology at Arkansas State University,” Dr. Timothy Burcham, dean of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Technology said. “She is a recognized leader in plant biotechnology research and our students benefit from having a world-class researcher and inventor in the classroom. Hood’s successful patent applications are an excellent example of how we are educating, enhancing and enriching the lives of our students through research and scholarship.”
Hood chairs the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation. She was recently invited to serve on the scientific advisory board for a Gates Foundation-funded project in Spain because of her expertise in corn molecular biology, and gave last year’s keynote address at the 17th Euro Biotechnology Congress in Berlin, Germany.
She has a doctorate in plant biology from Washington University in St. Louis, and is the CEO of Infinite Enzymes. She said at a recent women’s business conference, an array of skills are needed to start a successful business. Understanding customers, the market, and networking are vital tools, she said. Finding the right advisers and partners is also critical, she said. Her company harvests enzymes from corn to help create bio fuels and other functions such as cleaning tainted water, she said.
A new business owner has to ask themselves one fundamental question, she said.
“What pain are you going to solve for your customer?”