December 16, 2013

Dr. Ingrid Swanson Pultz wins first prize at C4C's 2013 Innovators Recognition Event
Dr. Ingrid Swanson Pultz wins first prize at C4C’s 2013 Innovators Recognition Event

Dr. Ingrid Swanson Pultz, a Translational Investigator at the Institute for Protein Design won first prize at the UW Center for Commercialization 2013 Innovator Recognition Event, for KumaMax, an enzyme designed in the Baker lab to efficiently break down gluten within the acidic environment of the stomach, before it can reach the small intestine where intact gluten may otherwise cause an inflammatory reaction in people who suffer from celiac disease.  Hence, KumaMax is now the subject of a Translational Research Project being led by Dr. Pultz with the goal of improving the profile of KumaMax features so that it may one day become an oral therapeutic to be taken as a prophylactic by celiac patients before they consume a meal.  Find out more in this Seattle Times article, or this PSBJ article, or this King5 news clip.

Before joining the IPD, during her time in graduate school at the Universtity of Washington, Dr. Pultz founded the UW International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team (, and acted as an advisor from 2008-2011.  KumaMax actually began as an undergraduate student project for the iGEM competition, and in the summer of 2011 UW iGEM team won the iGEM Grand Champion prize for KumaMax (listen to the talented UW undergraduate iGEM team members talking about enzyme design at this video link).  See also Gordon, S.R., Stanley, E.J., et al. J Am Chem Soc. 134(50), 20513-20520. (2012).

KumaMax Oral Enzyme Therapeutic for Celiac Disease
KumaMax Oral Enzyme Therapeutic for Celiac Disease

Since its initial design and discovery in 2011, KumaMax has shown great promise as an oral therapeutic to treat celiac disease.  However, considerable additional funding is required to translate KumaMax from the bench to the bedside.  This translational work is now being supported by a $1.4M Opportunity Grant Award to the IPD from the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, which is being matched by additional generous philanthropic support.

You can read more about KumaMax here; or, check out an article on NPR covering KumaMax. We have also been featured on KOMO News.

Make a gift today to support the research of Dr. Pultz.

For more information

For more information on the UW Institute for Protein Design, please contact Andrew Welch, Assistant Vice President at UW Medicine Advancement, at 206-616-6464 or Thank you for your interest in our work.

This article was Authored by Dr. Lance Stewart, Sr. Director of Strategy ( at the Institute for Protein Design, with kind input and guidance from UW colleagues, and with the aid of web resources linked throughout this posting.