Stratatech receives $247 million contract to develop skin product

As she watched the surgeon operating on a farmer who had suffered third-degree burns across 95% of his body, researcher Lynn Allen-Hoffmann realized instantly she had a new mission: making human skin.

The surgeon, desperate to find effective treatments for severe burn victims, had invited the University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist to watch him work on the farmer, injured in a propane tank explosion.

Allen-Hoffmann needed no further prodding: In 2001, she transformed her research into a company that would focus on developing a skin replacement created with actual human cells.

On Monday that company, Madison-based Stratatech Corp., was awarded a five-year federal contract worth as much as $247 million to further develop its full-thickness, human cell-based skin product.

“I felt an almost overpowering sense of responsibility to help get this technology developed,” said Allen-Hoffmann, Stratatech’s chief executive and chief science officer.

While Stratatech’s contract is a small percentage of the approximately $3 billion worth of federal contracts awarded annually to Wisconsin concerns, the $247 million represents the largest nondefense-related research and development contract awarded in the state during the last five years, said Aina Vilumsons, executive director of the Wisconsin Procurement Institute, which monitors federal contracts in Wisconsin.

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