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President Caret announces CVIP Technology Fund recipients

BOSTON - University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret today announced $225,000 in grants to UMass researchers for investment in new technologies through the University's Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP) Technology Development Fund. Established in 2004, the fund was created and is maintained through licensing revenues supplemented by a contribution from the UMass President's Office. The awards are given annually to faculty members across all five campuses to accelerate commercialization of their early-stage technologies in a wide range of disciplines, including the life sciences, chemistry, material and engineering. The fund is managed by William Rosenberg, Ph.D., Executive Director of CVIP.

"This program highlights University of Massachusetts researchers who stand at the forefront of scientific innovation," President Caret said. "Each year, we continue to see remarkable discoveries coming from laboratories on UMass campuses - impressive breakthroughs that bring new products and medical treatments to the marketplace and emphasize the major role we play in improving and saving lives in Massachusetts and around the world."

This year, nine awards are being made to faculty members from the Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester campuses. Over the past nine years, the program has funded 66 projects, resulting in new licenses, the creation of four new companies, and over $3 million in additional research funding for the recipients. Past awardees include George Huber of UMass Amherst, who developed a catalytic pyrolysis technology that fueled the success of startup company Anellotech, which has secured several million dollars of new investment funding and continues to sponsor research in Dr. Huber's lab.
 
Each of the following projects will be supported by a $25,000 grant from the 2012 CVIP Technology Development Fund awards:

Alfred J. Crosby, Ph.D.; Duncan Irschick, Ph.D.; Brian Umberger, Ph.D.
Polymer Science & Engineering Department, Department of Biology, Department of Kinesiology, UMass Amherst
"Geckskin Technologies"
Geckskin technology is a new adhesive material based on the mechanics of gecko feet, which allows large forces to be attached to vertical walls and ceilings, and then released upon command with minimal effort and without leaving a sticky residue.  The CVIP Technology Development Fund will provide the opportunity to integrate Geckskin into new or existing commercial markets, which holds great promise given the unique properties of this super-adhesive device.

S. Thai Thayumanavan, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry, UMass Amherst
"A New and Versatile Nano-Polymer Platform for Therapeutic Delivery"
Dr. Thayumanavan has developed a new class of polymeric nanogels with an ideal combination of characteristics for delivering water-insoluble therapeutics into cells. These carriers consist of cross-linked water-soluble synthetic polymers that are present in the form of nanoscale spherical gels/particles. The nanogels exhibit high loading capacity of water-insoluble therapeutics, excellent encapsulation stability, and release them in response to biologically relevant stimuli. The particles' surface enables robust functionalization with desirable ligands for targeted delivery of therapeutics into pathogenic cells.

Julie M. Goddard, Ph.D.; Eric A. Decker, Ph.D.
Department of Food Science, UMass Amherst
"Novel Metal-Chelating Antioxidant Packaging Materials"
Trace amounts of metals in foods can impact quality and nutritional value, resulting in shortened shelf-life and product loss.  While synthetic additives like ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) are highly effective in preventing metal-promoted degradation, consumers are increasingly drawn to natural, synthetic-free foods.  With the CVIP funding, Dr. Goddard's team will design an active packaging material which replaces the need for synthetic additives, thus maintaining a high quality product that can bear an all-natural label claim.

Yong K. Kim, Ph.D.
Bioengineering Department, UMass Dartmouth
"UMD Fibrous Energy Absorption Material (FEAM): A Novel Textile-based Material to Prevent Concussions"
UMass Dartmouth researchers have developed a novel Fibrous Energy Absorbing Material (FEAM) structure that can be used to supplement and improve existing materials designed to minimize bodily trauma during impact.  FEAM padding has the unique ability to absorb energy and enhance comfort while being breathable and conformable to contoured shaped surfaces. UMD's FEAM materials can be applied to products such as football, hockey and bicycle helmets, and linings for body armors and hospital beds.

Joel Therrien, Ph.D.; Susan Braunhut, Ph.D.; Kenneth Marx, Ph.D.
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Department of Biology, Department of Chemistry, UMass Lowell
"Development of a 1st Generation Acoustic Wave Biosensor Platform"
The nanocanary, a cell-based biosensor capable of continuously monitoring the physiological state of cells contained within it, has applications ranging from toxicology testing to customized therapeutics. The CVIP Technology Development Fund will support a beta version of the bio-sensing platform to be used by external groups.

Ramaswamy Nagarajan, Ph.D.; Zarif Farhana; Vishal Bavishi; Bridgette Budhlall, Ph.D.; Pam Eliason; Jason Marshall, Ph.D.;
Department of Plastics Engineering, UMass Lowell; Toxics Use Reduction Institute
"Novel "Greener" Surfactants Based on Naturally Occurring Polysaccharides"
The UMass Lowell team has developed a new class of surfactants using polysaccharides derived from fruit waste and algae. These surfactants are being explored as a safer, bio-based alternative to nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE). The CVIP Development Fund will help the team scale-up and evaluate the efficacy and reactions of these surfactants as a 'drop-in' replacement for NPE in laundry detergent formulations, and support the purchase of a cleaning efficiency tester (Tergotometer). Cleaning efficiency would be evaluated in collaboration with the 'Green Cleaning Lab' of the UMass Lowell Toxics Use Reduction Institute.

Sanjeev K. Manohar, Ph.D.
UMass Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology Program;
Department of Chemical Engineering, UMass Lowell
"Real-time Endotoxin Detector for the Global Industrial Microbiological Market"
Endotoxins are dangerous compounds from bacteria that can harm human health. The global industrial microbiological market, including beverage, food processing, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, personal care, environmental and industrial processes, are all impacted by endotoxins. With the CVIP funding, Dr. Manohar's team will focus on developing an inexpensive, easy-to-use, hand-held instantaneous endotoxin detection system with sensitivity and selectivity that surpasses current detectors in the market.

Trudy G. Morrison, Ph.D.
Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems, UMass Worcester
"Development of Methods for Large-Scale Production of Virus-like Particle Vaccine Candidates"
Dr. Morrison's laboratory has developed a novel vaccine platform that can be used to produce vaccines for a wide variety of infectious agents causing disease in humans.  The technology involves the use of virus-like particles as a platform for a generation of vaccines for various pathogens. Using this technology, they have accomplished successful preclinical trials of a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus. The CVIP funding will help the team define methodologies for economical, large-scale production of their vaccine candidates.

William Kobertz, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, UMass Worcester
"Fluorescent Visualization of Potassium Efflux from Living Cells"
Measuring potassium fluxes from cells and tissues is limited to electrical recordings.  Although very precise, they lack the spatiotemporal resolution to examine potassium egress over the entire landscape of a cell, from multiple cells in a tissue slice, or from an intact organ. The CVIP funding will help the team validate a new class of potassium-sensitive fluorophores to be used to fluorescently visualize potassium efflux from neuronal, muscular and cardiac potassium channels.


This year's grant submissions were graded on technical merit, stage of technology, cost to complete development, commercial potential and business viability, probability of commercial success, and the ability to execute the business plan. Over the past nine years, awards have gone to scientists on all five campuses.


ABOUT CVIP:

Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP) is responsible for the commercialization of discoveries made on the five campuses of the University of Massachusetts. The Executive Director, William Rosenberg, is based in the Office of the President and there are CVIP offices on each UMass campus. Revenues from the licensing of UMass technologies exceeded $36 million in Fiscal Year 2011.


Contact:  Robert P. Connolly, 617.287.7073

3/22/12

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