August 9, 2006
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
UMDNJ Awards Research Grants for Innovative Technologies
NEW BRUNSWICK — A new device to improve monitoring of critically sick babies and a better pharmacological approach to the leading cause of death in the United States highlight the list of nine projects recently awarded commercialization grants by the UMDNJ Office of Patents and Licensing.
“These grants will advance these promising technologies from the laboratories of UMDNJ investigators to the point where outside entities such as corporate partners, angel investors and venture capitalists will become interested in investing their own financial and technical resources to commercialize the technology,” said Vincent Smeraglia, the director of the UMDNJ Office of Patents and Licensing.
The projects, selected from among more than 30 applicants, received awards for their demonstrated technological achievement and high potential for commercialization. The New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology and the Foundation of UMDNJ collaborated to create a total of $435,000 in grants, which ranged from $30,000 to $100,000 each.
In January of this year, The New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology awarded $600,000 to the UMDNJ Office of Patents and Licensing as part its ongoing support of commercialization of intellectual property developed at New Jersey universities. The Commission has seen a particular need for “proof of concept,” prototyping and translational work to demonstrate the commercial potential of technologies developed at state universities. More than half of money awarded to UMDNJ was designated to start a program to aid in the commercialization of UMDNJ technologies.
“The Commission believes there are many ideas at our universities that may be developed into commercially thriving businesses here in New Jersey,” said Sherrie Priesche, executive director of the NJ Commission on Science and Technology. “We are pleased to have started this program with UMDNJ and hope that it leads to the development of new biotechnology, medical device and other life science companies in New Jersey.”
“The Foundation of UMDNJ was pleased to provide a $100,000 matching grant from board-designated funds to support these new and developing faculty projects,” said George F. Heinrich, M.D., vice chair and CEO of the Foundation of UMDNJ. “We applaud the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology for recognizing the importance of this research and are happy to be able to partner with them in this effort.”
One of the awards went to Dr. John Chuo, of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, for a device that could make the monitoring of endotracheal tubes in critically ill babies both more efficient and less expensive. His device allows for bedside monitoring, eliminating the use of radiographs currently used by hospitals, which cost hundreds of dollars each and subject the babies to extra radiation.
A better pharmacological treatment that specifically targets heart failure earned a research grant for the collaborative team of Dr. William Welsh, of UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Dr. Stephen Vatner of UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. Their research involves novel technology that uses the discovery of molecular entity as a potential target for the development of new medications to combat heart failure, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
All of the projects submitted for consideration were reviewed by a panel of outside judges who have extensive industry experience and who are well versed in the field of translational research. The projects were evaluated for innovation, stage of development, potential for commercialization, patent status and achievability. The following lists the other UMDNJ projects that received research grants:
Dr. Kiran Chada, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, “Screen for inhibitor of obesity target.” In collaboration with his company HMGene, Dr. Chada's work revolves around the identification of obesity targets using a process where batches of compounds are tested for binding or biological activity against certain target molecules. This in turn can lead the development of therapeutics for the treatment and even prevention of obesity, an increasingly prevalent health problem throughout the world.
Dr. Sheldon Lin, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, “Method for treatments of bone fractures, bone defects and allograft incorporation by local administration of insulin or insulin variants.” This invention relates to the new use for an old compound that directly mediates normal fracture healing, providing an alternative and more efficient treatment for bone fractures and defects.
Dr. Patrick O’Connor, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, “Accelerated bone fracture repair by systemic inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase.” This invention deals with systemic or local pharmacological approaches to significantly accelerate and enhance fracture repair.
Dr. Alexey Ryazanov, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, “Screening for elongation factor 2 kinase inhibitors: Potential chemoprotective, radioprotective and anti-aging agents.” This proposal utilizes Dr. Ryazanov's prior discovery of a genetic manipulation that protects mice from radiation and extends their lifespan. This discovery has huge implications in the development of therapeutics for inflammation, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, skin diseases, radiation therapy and neuro-degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’ s disease.
Dr. Patricia Soteropoulus, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, “Biomolecular Beacons for miRNA Profiling.” Recent studies have shown that miRNA expression plays an important role in many biological processes and miRNA profiling is becoming an important and widely used tool for understanding these processes.
Dr. Bernd Spur, UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine, “Synthesis of oxygenated decosahexsaenoic acid metabolites for the study of inflammation in human diseases.” The project seeks to develop methods to chemically synthesize major markers of oxidative stress and has high potential to lead to pharmaceutical interventions in inflammation related diseases.
Dr. Dale Woodbury, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, “Isolation of amnion derived stem cells.” This pioneering work being conducted at the Stem Cell Research Center at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center revolves around the isolation of stem cells from a non-controversial and less regulated placental source, leading to the development of therapeutics for a for wide variety of diseases with great commercial and social benefit.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.