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UConn Health Journal – Latest Issue

Translational Research and Academic Drug Discovery Workshop

Thursday January 14, 2016, 5-6:30 PM, UConn Health, EG013

UConn Heath and Storrs basic and clinical scientists and clinicians interested in translational research, particularly drug discovery, are invited to join this event aimed at supporting innovative proposals for the translation of research into commercial products. The workshop will be co-lead by Professors Dennis Wright, Medicinal Chemistry Storrs and Sandra Weller, Molecular Biology and Biophysics Farmington and Dr. Karen Woodward, Industry Liaison, Technology Commercialization Services, University of Connecticut.

Recently announced funding mechanisms (PITCH and SPARK) support innovative proof-of-concept studies that facilitate the eventual translation of basic science research discoveries into therapies.

The workshop will help you develop winning proposals and will address:

  • How to facilitate the formation of scientific teams including basic and clinical scientists to better compete for the PITCH and SPARK programs.
  • How to identify and validate appropriate targets for drug discovery
  • The valuable role of academic research centers in drug discovery
  • Target drugability: small molecule and biologics perspectives

Who should attend: Clinicians and Basic Scientists with interests in academic drug discovery and willing to work through collaborative partnerships. We encourage clinicians who have specific knowledge in unmet therapeutic needs, clinical practice and clinical trial design AND basic scientists with projects of biomedical importance amenable to drug discovery.


About PITCH: Program in Innovative Therapeutics for Connecticut’s Health (PITCH) is a collaboration between the two campuses of UConn (UCONN Health and UCONN Storrs) and Yale designed to translate laboratory discoveries made in the laboratory into therapeutic strategies and diagnostics that can be used to treat and cure disease and improve human health. PITCH supports the identification of appropriate biological targets, the first step in a successful drug discovery pipeline. Appropriate targets for drug discovery are proteins or processes that are involved in causing disease. Deadline March 1, 2016. http://pitch.yale.edu/

About SPARK: The SPARK Technology Commercialization Fund is offered by The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), in collaboration with the School of Medicine, to fund proof-of-concept studies that will facilitate translation of research discoveries into eventual product commercialization. Deadline February 19, 2016. http://research.uconn.edu/2015/12/03/uconn-spark-technology-commercialization-fund/

Accelerate UConn Accepting Applications

Accelerate UConnAccelerate UConn (AU) is accepting applications for its Spring Cohort. The deadline for applicants is January 15, 2016.

Accelerate UConn, a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded program, provides faculty-student teams with seed grants of up to $3000 and business training that accelerates the commercialization process for early-stage technologies developed at UConn.

Participating teams gain valuable insight into the best ways to get new technology into the marketplace. The first cohort of ten teams finished in November. If you’d like to learn more about how Accelerate UConn can help you understand the business potential of a discovery please watch Accelerate UConn participant and UConn Health PhD student Matt Hanley’s two-minute description of the program: https://youtu.be/f4H6etD-0E8

A brief application along with program information is available at http://accelerate.uconn.edu Applications will be reviewed and selected by a cross disciplinary panel of entrepreneurs and industry executives. The kick off workshop for selected applicants will be February 12-13, 2016.

Applicants that were not selected in the first round are encouraged to reapply. For input on your application or for help forming a team please contact Accelerate UConn staff at accelerateuconn@uconn.edu.

Accelerate UConn is operated as a partnership between the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

SPARK Technology Commercialization Fund

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), in collaboration with the School of Medicine, is pleased to announce the new UConn SPARK Technology Commercialization Fund, which is an enhanced version of a previous program administered at UConn Health.

The purpose of the UConn SPARK Technology Commercialization Fund is to support innovative proof-of-concept studies that will facilitate the translation of research discoveries into eventual product commercialization.

All UConn and UConn Health investigators are eligible to apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support one-year projects. Visit the SPARK page for a detailed program description.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact spark@uchc.edu

UConn Startups Win Social Enterprise Challenge

reSET_Logo_NoTagUConn technology startups recently won top prizes in the Social Enterprise Trust, (reSET) annual Impact Challenge. UConn’s MOVIA Robotics was selected for a $10,000 Gold Level prize and Parrot MD for a $5000 Silver Level prize by a distinguished panel of judges that included investors and successful entrepreneurs.

MOVIA Robotics was founded by Tim Gifford a research specialist at the Departments of Psychology and Engineering who co-developed the technology with Anjana Bhat, an Assistant Professor in NEAG. Gifford licensed the technology from UConn to support the company’s innovative approach to educating children with autism and other disabilities.

Parrot MD is a student startup created by recent UConn Business School Health Care Management graduate Steven Graf and Biomedical and Electrical Engineering student Charles Fayal to commercialize a device that promotes medication compliance among illiterate and visually impaired patients. Parrot MD was also a 2015 winner of UConn’s Innovation Quest and is currently participating in the first cohort of UConn’s NFS I-Corps Site, Accelerate UConn, to further its market planning.

Congrats to these committed and successful UConn entrepreneurs!

For more information, contact: Rita Zangari at (860) 486-3010

New Office of the VP for Research Website

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is pleased to announce the launching of the new OVPR UConn Health website. The new site is available at http://research.uchc.edu/.

The goal of the new OVPR UConn Health website is to provide administrators, faculty and staff resources in support of their research. Resources and services include funding opportunities, grant proposal development and award management support, regulatory compliance services (IRB, IACUC, Environmental Health and Safety, Financial Conflict of Interest, Research Integrity, and Stem Cells), Technology Commercialization, and the latest news and events. We are also actively working with Communications to incorporate this site with the UConn Health Research page. We hope that you will find the new website easy to use with quick access to the services that the OVPR has to offer.

Suggestions, comments and feedback can be emailed to eRA-help@uconn.edu or submitted online.

UConn Incubator Company, Nagare Membranes, Named Top Water Desalination Startup

Nagare Water - Top 5 Desalination StartupsNagare Membranes was named a Top 5 Desalination Startup by VentureRadar, a UK-based intelligence services firm that helps organizations innovate and generate growth. Nagare’s R&D operation is based at the UConn Technology Incubation Program in Storrs.

The company was founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur and CEO, Rob McGinnis, to commercialize its innovative technology for seawater desalination, wastewater reuse, and personal water purification. Using advanced carbon nanotube membranes, Nagare’s technology significantly reduces the costs required to produce fresh water from brackish water, frack water, industrial wastewater, and seawater. As a result, these sources will be the lowest cost sustainable sources of new fresh water.

According to Associate Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Jeff McCutcheon, Nagare Membranes established R&D labs at UConn to take advantage of the program’s excellent facilities, business services, and access to world-class research faculty.

“Having Nagare here at the University demonstrates one of many ways UConn faculty can play a role that supports new companies and industry development,” McCutcheon said. “In this case, Rob and I share common research interests and my lab is positioned to support publications about Nagare’s technology that will, hopefully, facilitate its ultimate use in the marketplace.”

The UConn Technology Incubation Program is part of the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research, and provides labs, technology resources, and business development services to emerging companies. TIP operates facilities on UConn campuses in Storrs, Avery Point, and in Farmington at UConn Health, where lab and office space will double upon the December 2015 completion of a 20,000 square foot addition.

CT-Based Startup, Biorasis, Wins Big at MassChallenge

biorasis-inc-logoConnecticut-based medical device startup, Biorasis, was recently awarded the MassChallenge’s top prize at their annual awards ceremony. The company was one of only four “Diamond Winners,” receiving a cash prize of $100,000. They were also one of two teams to receive the Sidecar Award, providing an additional $200,000 in non-dilutive funding.

The technology developed by Biorasis, the GlucowizzardTM, is an ultra-small implantable biosensor for continuous, reliable glucose monitoring. This needle-implantable device wirelessly transmits glucose levels to a watch-like unit for real-time display, which in turn communicates with personal digital accessories like a smartphone. The device measures only 0.5 x 0.5 mm and vastly improves the quality of life for patients with diabetes. It eliminates the need for surgical sensor implantation and extraction, restores active lifestyle, and enables remote care for young people and the elderly. The technology can also function effectively for 3-6 months without user intervention and saves between 50-70% in annual healthcare costs.

GlucowizzardTM implantable sensor

Glucowizzard implantable sensor

“We’re thrilled with our experience at MassChallenge, and are grateful to have received such a clear vote of confidence from the organization about the quality and potential impact of our technology,” said Co-Founders Faquir Jain and Fotios Papadimitrakopoulos, UConn Professors of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Chemistry/Institute of Materials Science, respectively.

The world’s biggest startup accelerator, MassChallenge accepts only 128 startups out of over 2,000 that apply each year to participate in the non-profit organization’s four-month program. During their time at the accelerator, startups receive educational programing and mentorship to advance their early-stage ventures. Since 2010, startups accelerated by MassChallenge have raised $1.1 billion in funding, generated $520 million in revenue and created 6,500 jobs.

Biorasis plans to build on this momentum.

According to Biorasis’ Chief Operation Officer, Dr. IIze Krisst, the next step for Biorasis is to develop the animal data needed to allow for clinical trials and FDA approval. “This recognition by MassChallenge provides external validation of our product concept and its value to patients,” she said.

R&D facilities for Biorasis are currently housed in the University of Connecticut Technology Incubation Program in Storrs.

Graveley Uses MinION to Untangle RNA Transcripts in a Difficult Gene

New UConn Health Research Seed Funding Initiative

October 23, 2015


Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce a new seed funding program at UConn Health that will provide significant support to advance innovative interdisciplinary research projects. As with our other recent collaborations, the Office of the Vice President for Research, School of Medicine, and School of Dental Medicine are confident that this initiative will continue to stimulate faculty research success through the investment of resources to enhance research productivity and competitiveness.

The Research Excellence Program – UConn Health (REP-UCH) will provide seed funding to promote, support, and catalyze innovative research with strong potential for significant extramural funding from federal, corporate, industry, and foundation sponsors.

The REP-UCH will consist of $500,000 to be allocated between two funding tiers:

  1. Convergence Grants provide funding ranging from $50,000 – $100,000 to facilitate interdisciplinary research initiatives.
  2. Stimulus Grants provide up to $25,000 in seed funding to facilitate the initiation, completion, or advancement of research projects.

Thank you for your continued contributions to UConn Health’s success as a leading research institution. We look forward to supporting you in your future research activities.




Dr. Jeff Seemann
Vice President for Research
UConn/UConn Health
Dr. Bruce Liang, M.D., F.A.C.C.
Dean, School of Medicine
UConn Health
Dr. Monty MacNeil, D.D.S., M.Dent.Sc.
Dean, School of Dental Medicine
UConn Health

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