Twenty-four researchers at UCLA have been named recipients of awards from the 2021 UCLA Innovation Fund Biomedical Competition.
These awards, up to $ 150,000 per project, support early stage research that lead to commercialization activities, which usually aren’t supported by basic research grants. As a result, researchers can develop their technologies to a point where the chances of success are greatly increased. All awarded projects receive consultations from an outside industry and investor adviser panel, which provides technical and commercial feedback that is key to technology development.
The UCLA Innovation Fund was established in 2016 by the UCLA Technology Development Group, in conjunction with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, UCLA College’s divisions of physical sciences and life sciences, the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, the UCLA School of Dentistry and UCLA Health.
The applicants ‘projects were evaluated on their novelty, significance and potential public benefit, as well as the status of the intellectual property and other factors relating to the projects’ technical feasibility and commercial potential.
The two tracks in the 2021 cycle were therapeutics and medical technology.
The award recipients for the therapeutics track:
- Peter Clark, assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology; Robert Damoiseaux, professor of molecular and medical pharmacology; Dr. Richard Finn, professor of medicine in the division of hematology / oncology; Harvey Herschman, distinguished research professor, molecular and medical pharmacology; and Varghese John, professor of neurology and the principal investigator at the Drug Discovery Lab at UCLA were recognized for their work developing a hexokinase 2 inhibitor to treat hepatocellular carcinoma.
- Arpana Gupta, adjunct assistant professor in the division of digestive diseases; Dr. Tien Dong; assistant clinical professor of medicine; Dr. Jonathan Jacobs assistant professor-in-residence in the division of digestive diseases; and Dr. Emeran Mayer, professor of medicine, physiology and psychiatry were awarded funding for their treatment fighting obesity and food addiction by harnessing the brain-gut axis.
- Dr. Dinesh Rao, associate professor, pathology and laboratory medicine; Robert Damoiseaux, professor of molecular and medical pharmacology; and Neil Garg, distinguished professor in chemistry and biochemistry, received funds for their small molecule approach targeting RNA binding proteins in cancer cells.
The award recipients for the medical technology track:
- The team lead by Dr. Renea Sturm, pediatric urologist and assistant professor of urology, joined by George Aninwene II, Peyton Tebon and Ali Khademhosseini, former professor of bioengineering, invented a novel device for urologic tissue repair.
- R. Michael van Dam and his team of Jason Jones and Ksenia Lisova developed a device which allows for on-demand manufacture of radiopharmaceuticals.
- The team of Glen Meyerowitz, Dr. Igor Barjaktarevic, Dr. Obi Emeruwa and Onike Williams invented a novel device which allows customized ventilation of each lung for patients with acute lung injury.
- Jeff Chiang, assistant adjunct professor and leader of the computational medicine technology core worked with Dr. Srinivas Sadda to advance a diagnostic which detects macular degeneration in its early stages while intervention is still possible.
The UCLA Innovation Fund is currently accepting 2022 applications. Click here for more information.