News: Press Releases

March 24, 2014

President Caret announces faculty grants to aid in bringing research to market

  • The UMass System

March 24, 2014: University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret today announced eight projects on three campuses to receive $200,000 in technology grants from the Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP) Technology Development Fund to assist faculty in accelerating the commercialization of their inventions. This is the 11th straight year that CVIP, which is responsible for bringing to market discoveries made on the University system's five campuses, has awarded grants to support cutting-edge faculty research.

``Every year, we identify game-changing research with commercial promise in laboratories on UMass campuses that speak to the major role that the University plays in advancing scientific discovery and improving and saving lives in the Commonwealth and around the world,'' President Caret said. ``It is critically important that the University help advance these projects so that they can enter the marketplace and contribute to increasing our entrepreneurial activities, contribute to the rate of commercialization of early stage technologies and contribute to the Commonwealth's overall economic development efforts.''

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 and engineering.

This year, the eight awards are being made to faculty members from the Amherst, Lowell and Worcester campuses. Over the past 11 years, the program has funded 82 projects resulting in numerous commercial licenses and patents, five start-up companies and more than $3 million in additional research funding for the recipients. The fund is managed by William Rosenberg, Ph.D., Executive Director of CVIP.

UMass is a national leader in technology licensing income, consistently ranking among the top 15 US universities.  It ranked 11th on a recent list of US universities with the highest licensing revenue for every $1 million it spent on research.

Commercializing technology, generating licensing income and establishing new companies is one of the 21 high-priority goals that UMass identified in its recently issued first annual performance measurement report, ``UMass Performance: Accountable and on the Move.''

Each of the following project team leaders will be supported by a $25,000 grant from the 2014 CVIP Technology Development Fund:

Xingwei Wang, Ph.D.
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UMass Lowell
"A Miniature Fiber Optic High Frequency High Resolution Ultrasound Imaging Transducer"

Professor Wang's goal is to develop the first all-optical fiber ultrasound imaging system with automatic steering function for intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging. Due to its all optical approach, it could be integrated with optical coherence tomography (OCT) to see deeper into the tissues with higher resolution.  IVUS is a powerful tool for coronary artery disease (CAD) evaluation and diagnosis. The value is that it could reduce the medical cost when treating CAD patients.

Rudolf Faust
Department of Chemistry, UMass Lowell
"Self-healing Gas Impermeable Elastomeric Sealant"

Organic photovoltaic and light emitting devices are susceptible to damage upon exposure to moisture and oxygen, which decreases their lifetime. The goal of Dr. Faust's project is to advance a novel polyisobutylene-based gas impermeable elastomeric sealant technology from proof of concept, which has already been demonstrated, closer to commercialization. Funding will be used to support a postdoctoral fellow for six months.

Amy Biddle, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Blanchard, Ph.D.
Biology Department, UMass Amherst
"Probiotics for equine digestive health"

Professor Blanchard and Dr. Biddle have identified novel bacteria from the equine gut microbiome with the potential to reduce digestive disorders leading to colic, the leading cause of death in horses after old age.  The development of their technology will help horse owners to improve the quality and extend the useful life of their horses.

Dhandapani Venkataraman
Department of Chemistry, UMass Amherst
"Organic Photovoltaic Devices Based on Water-based Nanoparticle Dispersions"

Venkataraman has developed a method to fabricate efficient organic photovoltaic devices from aqueous dispersions of polymer nanoparticles.  His method replaces aromatic solvents in the current fabrication processes with water. The funding will be used to fabricate prototype flexible organic photovoltaic cells from these dispersions. 

Qiangfei Xia
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UMass Amherst
"All-silicon-based Resistance Switch Arrays with In-Situ Diodes as Selectors"

Dr. Xia's group focuses on developing emerging nanodevices for the next generation data storage and unconventional computing. The technology addresses the compatibility of materials selection, fabrication process and operational parameters of such devices with the state-of-the-art manufacturing infrastructure in the integrated circuits (IC) industry. The CVIP fund will be used to solve issues pertaining to devices in an array, and to develop a prototype of this technology.

Igor Kaltashov
Department of Chemistry, UMass Amherst

"Protein conjugates based on bacteriostatic proteins as antimicrobial drugs for treating infections in the central nervous system"

The new technology seeks to target pathogens that shield themselves from the vast majority of existing medicines by taking advantage of the host organism's blood-brain barrier (a natural defense protecting the central nervous system from harmful molecules that could be present in the blood).  This is done by attaching a microbe-destroying protein to transferrin, a natural transporter of iron that can cross the blood-brain barrier.

Jack L. Leonard, Ph.D., Professor
Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems, UMass Worcester
"Pharmacokinetic-Pharmacodynamic Modeling of the MTD-DKK3b Tumor Suppressor"

MTD-DKK3b is a potent anti-cancer drug with few, if any, side effects in vivo.  Professor Leonard's laboratory plans to define the relationship between 1) plasma concentration and anti-tumor biology, 2) drug target-site distribution and clearance, 3) drug biological half-life and tissue resonance time, and drug toxicity in both whole body and individual organs of the mouse.  These studies are required to go forward with the development of MTD-DKK3b for therapeutic use in humans.

Anna N. Yaroslavsky, Ph.D.
Department of Physics, UMass Lowell
"Method for Optical Detection of Breast Cancer in Single Cells"

Professor Yaroslavsky has discovered that fluorescence polarization can be used for accurate differentiation of cancer cells. This discovery potentially shifts the paradigm of diagnosing cancer by allowing it's rendering on a single-cell level and without actual tissue acquisition and/or processing. When fully developed, the technology will be invaluable in detecting cancer at early stages, intraoperative inspection of excision margins, as well as monitoring patients that are in remission. However, even at the earlier stages of the development optical polarization imaging will allow for studying early stages of cancer progression in animal models, testing new cancer drugs and treatment modalities and protocols. The project will focus on the quantitation of fluorescence polarization changes in cancer as compared to normal cells.


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.

Contact: Ann Scales, 617-287-4084; Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073