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March, 2017

Crossing the River to Find Healthcare Solutions

Jessica McBride, Office of the Vice President for Research

Kourosh Parham, MD, Ph.D. has come up with a blood test that can detect hearing loss far sooner than existing tests.  Early detection can potentially prevent further hearing loss, Parham told a group of medical practitioners, faculty and students from engineering, business, medicine and other UConn graduate programs at Healthcare Solutions Night, held recently at UConn Health.

Many people suffer from hearing loss, but hearing tests are limited and fail to capture the full range of hearing, he said. Researchers are working on medications to prevent further hearing damage – once it has been detected. But, at this point, he can’t give patients their test results until he has 90 blood samples to test at once. He was seeking someone to help him find a way to test blood samples individually.

As soon as he finished his presentation, people in the audience suggested ideas and offered to collaborate.

A biodegradable force sensor developed by Dr. Thanh Duc Nguyen from the Department of Mechanical Engineering

A biodegradable force sensor developed by Dr. Thanh Duc Nguyen from the Department of Mechanical Engineering

Parham was one of five clinicians and researchers at the recent cross-pollination event aimed at developing solutions to pressing health-care problems. He and the other presenters had devised a potential solution to a problem and came hoping others with different skills could help bring the ideas to market. In addition, Thanh Duc Nguyen, Ph.D., a member of the department of mechanical engineering who invented an implantable, dissolvable sensor, was looking to partner with clinicians who could apply his biodegradable sensor to their practice. He knew he had a great idea, but needed to demonstrate its ability to positively impact medical conditions.

Teams that formed during the team-building portion of the event will compete for two $1,500 Healthcare Solutions Seed Grants offered through the Accelerate UConn program. Accelerate UConn is a joint operation of the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Accelerate UConn’s goal is to build and support cross-disciplinary teams that improve the likelihood of commercial success of UConn technologies. The funds are intended to help the winning teams begin working together and prepare for future competitions where they can win additional funding and business development support.

“Sometimes you get unexpected solutions when you mix the crowd together,” said Mostafa Analoui, Ph.D. executive director of Venture Development, Office of the Vice President for Research and the evening’s host.  Anne Diamond, CEO of UConn John Dempsey Hospital and Dr. Bruce Liang, dean of the School of Medicine, welcomed and encouraged the attendees, a mixture of medical students, graduate students, faculty and clinicians.  “This is a great way to spur an accelerated effort to commercialize academic research,” Liang said.

The other presenters were Dr. Santhanam Lakshminarayanan, Division of Rheumatology; Dr. Joel Levine, Colon Cancer Prevention Program; Dr. Courtney Townsel, Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine; and Heather Spear, M.S.N., A.P.R.N., Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. Courtney Townsel is a Maternal Fetal MedicineFellow at UConn. She is developing a non-invasive treatment for cervical cerclage. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Photo).

Dr. Courtney Townsel is a Maternal Fetal MedicineFellow at UConn. She is developing a non-invasive treatment for cervical cerclage. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Photo).

After Parham and other presenters explained their concepts, attendees from the various disciplines were invited to approach whichever presenter they felt they could help, given their various disciplinary expertise or interest. Evan R. Jellison, Ph.D., assistant professor, immunology, who runs the Flow Cytometry lab at UConn Health, met with Parham to discuss ideas for an alternate, more efficient and individualized blood test method.

“We are planning to apply for the Healthcare Solutions Seed Grant to fund our collaboration,” Parham said following the meeting.

Another presenter, psychiatric nurse Heather Spear, held her son’s teddy bear while explaining her idea for a device that could be imbedded into a stuffed animal to help sooth delirious patients. She outlined the problem faced in hospitals nationwide, pointing out that as Baby Boomers age, the challenge will snowball.

More than 40 percent of the patients admitted to UConn John Dempsey Hospital are over 65, and nationally, about 35 percent of admitted patients are at least age 65.  About 10 to 31 percent of patients 65 and older come to hospitals in a state of delirium, said Spear, a leader in the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) program at UConn Health. Once they arrive, another 11 to 42 percent develop delirium.

As a result, these patients’ hospital stays are prolonged, increasing their risk of infection, decline, continued confusion and death. These factors lead to increased costs and decreased quality of life.

Spear hopes to create a hospital-acceptable bear that has a four-quadrant, digital panel imbedded in its belly. When patients touch the bear, whether intentionally or accidently, they would see and hear either a video of a loved one, the date and time, video clips of TV shows from their younger years or music from their youth. The bear has to withstand being thrown, since delirious patients can become agitated, anxious or disoriented.

During the team-building portion of the event, electrical engineer Insoo Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of medicine at the UConn Health, offered Spear new ideas to advance her product’s development. “The solution to your idea is a software design rather than a device,” he said with confidence. “We can program the tablet. A student can write an app.”

“To me, it was rocket science,” she said later. “I was thinking, ‘This is exactly why I came to this event.’ ”

She’s had this idea for a few years, but jumped on the chance to present it to colleagues with different skills, she said.

“I was somewhat nervous, but I knew that I only had to present what I know,” Spear said. “It was a very welcoming audience. They’re there because they want to be there. They’re hoping to hear something they can jump in on and invent and make.”

It was comforting to see a few other nurses in the audience, she said. She wasn’t sure her idea would gain any traction and was thrilled at the response. Other nurses who work with dementia patients felt it would help their patients who experience memory loss.

Kim invited Spear to attend the Senior Design Pitch Day on March 27, where third-year biomedical engineering students hear about different ideas that they could work on for their senior design projects. Energized, she’s working on her application for the Healthcare Solutions Seed Grant offered through the Accelerate UConn program.

Accelerate UConn is the University’s National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Site. Its mission is to bring scientific discoveries and capabilities from the lab to the marketplace.  Participating teams receive $3,000 in seed funding for their new ventures and an introduction to the most critical elements of the I-Corps Curriculum and Lean Launchpad methodology. Over seven weeks, teams learn how to assess the market opportunity for their product or technology.

Each workshop provides hands-on training in the basics of business planning and is delivered by entrepreneurs and faculty members. These coaches provide personalized guidance and feedback to help teams construct an evidence-based business model and market-entry strategy.  Participating teams also receive $3,000 in seed funding for their ventures. Accelerate UConn is open to all university faculty and students.  For more information, visit www.accelerate.uconn.edu.

OVPR Research Compliance News

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) Research Compliance Services group would like to share some important updates with the research community at UConn Health.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC):
A new IACUC policy (effective 2/23/17) requires documentation of veterinary consultation prior to submission of animal care and use protocols if painful/distressful procedures (pain categories D and or E) will be used.  The IACUC also recently updated its policy on expiration dates for drug mixtures used in laboratory animals.  Click here to view the updated policy.


Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC):
The IBC is in the process of implementing new IBC training for researchers through the CITI training program. Researchers will be notified by the IBC in the next few months to take this online training. Please stay tuned.


Institutional Review Board (IRB):
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and fifteen other Federal Departments and Agencies have issued final revisions to the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects (the Common Rule). The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2017.  Some of the changes encompassed within the revised Rule include 1) an expansion of categories of research that may be exempt, 2) elimination of the need for continuing review for research that qualifies for expedited review and for research that has reached the stage of long-term follow-up or data analysis, 3) a broad-consent provision relating to the storage and use of data and specimens in secondary research and 4) additional requirements regarding the consent form.  The compliance date for most of the revisions within the Rule is January 18, 2018.  The compliance date for use of a single IRB for cooperative research is January 18, 2020.  Staff within the Human Research Protections Programs (HSPP) at UConn Health will be revising policies and procedures and offering educational sessions related to these changes.  The research community should continue to follow current policies and procedures until the HSPP publishes revised documents.


The new NIH Policy on the Dissemination of NIH-Funded Clinical Trial Information covers all applications for funding (including grants, contracts, and other transactions) submitted on or after January 18, 2017 that request support for the conduct of any clinical trial. Studies that are wholly or in part funded by NIH grants submitted on or after this date must be registered and results must be reported on ClinicalTrials.gov.

NIH defines a clinical trial as a research study in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned to one or more interventions (which may include placebo or other control) to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health-related biomedical or behavioral outcomes. Health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome is defined as the pre-specified goal(s) or condition(s) that reflect the effect of one or more interventions on human subjects’ biomedical or behavioral status or quality of life.

Click here for assistance with ClinicalTrials.gov registration.


Financial Conflict of Interest in Research Committee (FCOI):
The 2017 Individual Financial Disclosure in Research reporting period started February 8, 2017. In order to remain in compliance with university policy and federal regulations, UConn Health employees who are involved in research are required to complete an annual questionnaire in the UConn Health COI-SMART electronic disclosure system. The deadline to complete is April 30, 2017. We recommend, however, that you submit your disclosure well before the deadline because this process must be completed prior to the institution submitting any grant applications to DHHS agencies on your behalf.  The setup of new and continuation awards will also be delayed until you are in compliance.

If you did not receive an automated e-mail invitation to complete the questionnaire and believe you need to complete the form, or if you have any questions regarding the form or the disclosure requirements, please contact Dr. Gus Fernandez-Wolff in the Office of the Vice President for Research, Research Compliance Services at x8125 or gfernandez@uchc.edu.



Sugary Drink Sales Drop After Community Campaign

Residents of one Maryland county bought fewer sugary drinks after a campaign to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages that included policy changes and public health outreach efforts, according to a new study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

The new study, published today in JAMA Internal Medicine, is the first to use objective retail sales data to measure the effectiveness of a community-led campaign to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.

“This study demonstrates the power of a community-based public health campaign that combines health-supporting policy changes with extensive outreach. The residents of Howard County have been engaged in every phase of this effort and their commitment to switching their drinks showed up in the supermarket sales data,” says Marlene Schwartz, the study’s lead author, a professor of human development and family studies and director of the UConn Rudd Center.

Infographic showing how Maryland's Howard County Unsweetened campaign encouraged residents to purchase fewer sugary drinks. (UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity)In 2012, the Horizon Foundation — an organization focused on improving the health of people living in Howard County — and several community partners began a three-year campaign, Howard County Unsweetened, to encourage local residents to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks, including sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, flavored waters, and sweetened teas. The campaign included policy changes and public health messaging to encourage people to make healthier beverage choices in schools, childcare centers, government locations, and community organizations.

Beverages with added sugars are among the leading sources of empty calories — calories that supply little or no nutrients — for both children and adults; and overconsumption of sugar is associated with obesity and increased risk of heart disease.

Comparing sales data in 2012, before the Howard County Unsweetened campaign, to sales data in 2015, researchers found notable declines in purchases over the three-year period.

The study’s key findings show that based on sales data from Howard County supermarkets:

  • Sales of sugar-sweetened soda declined nearly 20 percent.
  • Sales of 100 percent juice fell 15 percent.
  • Sales of fruit drinks with added sugars fell a little more than 15 percent.

The campaign’s policy changes included strengthening the school system’s wellness policy to eliminate sugary drinks in student-accessible vending machines, and increasing access to water; enacting a 2014 state law prohibiting licensed childcare centers from serving sugary drinks to children in their care, and encouraging breastfeeding; enacting a 2015 local law making healthier food and drinks more widely available on local government property, and engaging nearly 50 community organizations in the effort to improve the food and beverage choices they offer at meetings and in vending machines. These organizations included faith communities, health groups, businesses, and nonprofits.

Community-wide public health outreach efforts included:

  • Marketing, such as TV ads, social media messages, and online ads.
  • Disseminating public health information about the risks associated with consumption of sugary drinks directly to local residents at community and athletic events, local swimming pools, and health fairs.
  • Training of healthcare professionals to improve patient counseling on the dangers of sugary drink consumption and the diagnosis and treatment of children with obesity.

In determining the campaign’s impact, researchers compared weekly beverage sales of top-selling brands in 15 Howard County supermarkets with a matched group of 17 supermarkets in southeastern Pennsylvania. The study did not include sales data from non-supermarket vendors such as convenience stores.

The study was funded primarily by the Horizon Foundation, with additional funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and from the Rudd Foundation to support data collection. Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, is a strategic partner of both Howard County Unsweetened and Sugar Free Kids Maryland.

Co-authors of the study include Glenn Schneider and Nicolette Highsmith Vernick of the Horizon Foundation; Yoon-Young Choi, Jennifer Harris, Tatiana Andreyeva, and Maia Hyary of the UConn Rudd Center; and Lawrence J. Appel MD of the Horizon Foundation and Johns Hopkins University.

A Lesson from Enron: Charter Schools Need More Oversight

In 2001, Enron rocked the financial world by declaring bankruptcy in the wake of a now infamous accounting scandal. Within months, shares in the energy and commodities giant – the seventh largest corporation in the country at the time – plunged to penny stock levels. Thousands of employees lost their jobs. Investors lost billions.

The potential for abuses is pretty substantial, especially if we increase the number of charter schools and if we begin to dismantle the regulations that are in place. — Preston Green

Less than 20 years later, the same type of fraud and mismanagement is happening in the charter school sector, says Preston Green, a professor of educational leadership and law at UConn’s Neag School of Education. In a forthcoming paper in the Indiana Law Journal, Green and his co-authors examine how charter school officials have engaged in Enron-like related-party transactions to divert charter school funding away from students and into their own pockets. The paper also flags steps that gatekeepers can take to prevent such abuses.

These deregulated public schools are exempt from many laws governing financial transparency; and, as in the case of Enron, bad actors are using fraudulent related-party transactions to funnel money into real estate and rake in hefty management fees. In spite of this evidence, the federal government has consistently attempted to increase the number of charter schools, without pushing for more oversight.

This policy approach is alarming, says Green, because it risks harming students in low-income and minority communities – the very children charter schools are intended to serve. And the trend shows no sign of slowing under President Donald Trump: Betsy DeVos, Trump’s new Secretary of Education, is an enthusiastic supporter of charter schools. In Michigan, her home state, both expansion and deregulation are occurring, he says.

“What we’re trying to point out in the paper is that this is happening – actually it’s relatively common – and that the potential for abuses is pretty substantial, especially if we increase the number of charter schools and if we begin to dismantle the regulations that are in place,” Green says.

Enron’s accounting issues revolved around special-purpose entities it created to hide huge debt and heavy losses in order to look good for investors. By failing to reveal that its special-purpose entities partnerships were related-party transactions, Enron violated accounting principles. Related-party transactions involve parties with pre-existing special relationships. Enron’s CFO Andrew Fastow managed its special-purpose entities, made millions in the process, and used the illegal proceeds to invest in other ventures.

The fraud within the charter school sector relies on a similar web of related-party entities and transactions. Imagine Schools, one of the cases cited by Green, did this through the use of real estate investment trusts and triple-net leases. A real estate investment trust is a company that owns and manages property and is required to distribute 90 percent of its income to investors in a mutual fund-like arrangement that provides investors with steady income. A triple-net lease agreement is one in which the lessee is responsible for both rent and related costs, such as taxes, insurance, and facilities maintenance.

Imagine Schools, a non-profit educational management organization that operates 63 charter school campuses with an enrollment of 33,000 students in 11 states and the District of Columbia, conducted its real estate deals through a for-profit subsidiary, SchoolHouse Finance. In a typical deal, one of its charter schools would lease the building from SchoolHouse. SchoolHouse would in turn sell the property to Imagine School’s partner real estate investment trust, Entertainment Properties Trust. The trust then leased the property to SchoolHouse at a lower rate than the charter school lease, saddling the charter schools with exorbitant rents of up to 40 percent of their public funding – nearly triple the 14 percent charter schools more commonly pay for rent.

In Renaissance Academy for Math & Science of Missouri v. Imagine Schools, a federal district court ruled that the educational management organization committed a breach of fiduciary duty by causing the charter school governing board to enter into unreasonable lease agreements with SchoolHouse. The court noted that these leases “clearly constituted self-dealing,” because Imagine Schools was the sole owner of SchoolHouse and benefited from the excessive leases. Imagine Schools was ordered to pay $935,400 in damages for the breach of fiduciary duty.

In September, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General issued the findings of an audit it conducted of 33 charter schools in six states: California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The audit found 36 instances of weakness in internal controls, 13 of which were tied to related-party transactions.

Public education is largely overseen by the states, which can enact protections to make sure money is spent appropriately, Green points out. But states are generally failing to do so, he says. Only two states, for example, forbid individuals from serving on a school’s governing board if they or an immediate family member own a company that provides services to the school. And only two states have guidelines on  reasonable lease agreements.

But individuals, activists, and parents can press their state lawmakers to enact protections, Green says.

“We need auditors who are trained to catch related-party transactional fraud, and we need provisions in place to ensure that governing boards have the power to see that state education agencies are providing oversight over authorizing entities,” he says. “We also need provisions to ensure that governing boards, chartering entities, and state education agencies have sufficient power to serve as effective gatekeepers.”

Accounting for Extreme Rainfall

A University of Connecticut climate scientist has confirmed that more intense and more frequent severe rainstorms will likely continue as temperatures rise due to global warming, despite some observations that seem to suggest otherwise.

In a research paper appearing this week in Nature Climate Change, UConn civil and environmental engineering professor Guiling Wang explains that data showing the intensity of severe rainstorms declining after temperatures reach a certain threshold are merely a reflection of climate variability. It is not proof that there is a fixed upper temperature limit for future increases in severe rains, after which they would begin to drop off.

“We hope this information puts things in better perspective and clarifies the confusion around this issue,” says Wang, who led an international team of climate experts in conducting the study. “We also hope this will lead to a more accurate way of analyzing and describing climate change.”

Severe and prolonged rainstorms can have a devastating impact on local environments and economies and are closely watched. These damaging storms can cause catastrophic flooding; overwhelm sewage treatment plants; increase the risk of waterborne disease; and wipe out valuable crops.

If you want to relate rain intensity to temperature …, you have to relate to the temperature at which the rain event occurs, not the mean temperature, which is the long term average. — Guiling Wang

Many current climate models show most of the world will experience more intense and more frequent severe rainstorms for the remainder of the 21st century, due to hotter temperatures caused by global warming.

But whether this increase in extreme precipitation will continue beyond the end of the century, and how it will be sustained, is less clear.

Meteorological observations from weather stations around the world show the intensity of severe rainstorms relative to temperature is like a curve – steadily going up as low to medium surface temperatures increase, peaking when temperatures hit a certain high point, then dropping off as temperatures continue rising.

Those observations raise the prospect that damaging rainstorms could eventually ease once surface temperatures reach a certain threshold.

However, Wang says the peaks seen in the observational data and climate models simply reflect the natural variability of the climate. As the Earth warms, her team found, the entire curve representing the relationship between extreme precipitation and rising temperatures is moving to the right. This is because the threshold temperature at which rain intensity peaks also goes up as temperature rises. Therefore, extreme rainfall will continue to increase, she says.

The relationship between precipitation and temperature is founded in science. Simply put, warmer air holds more moisture. Scientists can even tell you how much. A widely used theorem in climate science called the Clausius-Clapeyron equation dictates that for every degree the temperature goes up, there is an approximately 7 percent increase in the amount of moisture the atmosphere can hold. The intensity of extreme precipitation, which is proportional to atmospheric moisture, also increases at a scaling rate of approximately 7 percent, in the absence of moisture limitations.

The problem is that when scientists ran computer models predicting the likelihood of extreme precipitation in the future, and compared those results with both present day observations and the temperature scaling dictated by the so-called “C-C equation,” the numbers were off. In many cases, the increase in extreme precipitation relative to surface temperature over land was closer to 2 to 5 percent, rather than 7 percent. In their analysis, Wang’s team discovered that average local surface temperatures increase much faster than the threshold temperatures for extreme precipitation, and attributed the lower scaling rate to the fact that earlier studies compared extreme precipitation with average local temperatures rather than the temperature at the time the rainstorms occurred.

“There are a lot of studies where people are trying to determine why the scaling rate is lower than 7 percent,” says Wang. “Our study suggests that this is a wrong question to ask. If you want to relate rain intensity to temperature using the C-C relationship as a reference, you have to relate to the temperature at which the rain event occurs, not the mean temperature, which is the long term average.”

Kevin Trenberth, an expert on global warming and the lead author of several reports prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, joined Wang in the current study. Trenberth is currently a Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore as a member of the IPCC. Trenberth explains the findings this way:

“In general, extreme precipitation increases with higher temperatures because the air can hold more moisture – although that depends on moisture availability. But beyond a certain point, it is the other way round: the temperature responds to the precipitation, or more strictly speaking, the conditions leading to the precipitation, [such as extensive cloud cover or surface moisture]. The most obvious example of this is in a drought where there is no precipitation. Another example is in cloudy, stormy conditions, when it is wet and cool. By relating the changes in precipitation to the temperature where the relationship reverses – instead of the mean temperature as in previous studies – we can make sense of the differences and the changes. Moreover, it means there is no limit to the changes that can occur, as otherwise might be suspected if there were a fixed relationship.”

This study was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences.

UConn Seeking Money-Making Research Ventures

Published on The Hartford Courant / March 6, 2017

Stephen Singer

As Connecticut looks to boost technology startups intended to spark job creation and draw in new capital, its flagship university is getting into the act.

The University of Connecticut is helping to establish money-making ventures from research at its engineering and medical schools and connecting investors to academic work to form startups leading to new businesses and job creation.

The effort faces an uphill climb, according to a researcher who has studied university money-making ventures and a retired UConn engineering professor running his own Manchester business.

Mostafa Analoui, executive director of venture development at UConn, said his job is to help companies established at UConn develop business leads, work with management teams and help with business development plans and finance.

He also works with faculty members and graduate students who have developed ideas that may be candidates for development as business ventures, deciding whether they can lead to a new company or help propel companies forward.

“We need to recognize our own niche,” Analoui said.

The intent of venture development is to take research and create products that lead to businesses that can go public – selling shares to investors – or being sold.

“Until there is a commercializable opportunity, there’s not going to be a product or a job,” said Jeff Seemann, UConn’s vice president for research. “We should have been doing this sooner. We’re doing parts of it now.”

One company with its roots in UConn is IMCORP, an 85-employee firm that provides diagnostic services for medium- and high-voltage power cable systems. Its founder and chief executive officer, Matthew S. Mashikian, is a retired UConn engineering professor.

He founded the company 20 years ago with financial help from New York and Connecticut utilities with an interest in reliable power cables. His business experience as a sales engineer at a company that is now ABB, the Swiss industrial conglomerate, was critical to his success launching the business, Mashikian said.

“My background is not as a graduate Ph.D. professor,” he said.

The lack of a business background could hamper efforts by academics looking to launch businesses, Mashikian said. “Very few have had practical experience,” he said.

Darrell West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, said a few universities have succeeded in launching startup businesses. But universities more typically spend more money on legal fees, patent filings and other costs than they raise in venture businesses, he said.

He cited a few bright spots such as the University of Florida, where a professor developed Gatorade; the University of Wisconsin’s success with cancer treatment drugs and genetics; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has hit on money-making ventures based on technology.

“Faculty members are great at coming up with new ideas,” West said. “But they’re not trained in marketing ideas or raising money for ideas. It’s hard for them to commercialize products.”

In announcing Analoui’s appointment last fall, Seemann said his job will be to advance UConn’s efforts to identify technologies that can be developed into business ventures and recruit entrepreneurs and talent to lead startup companies and raise money.

New companies and those already doing business are expected to create jobs within the state and increase economic activity in Connecticut. Those with licenses to UConn inventions aim to return some of the money to the university though a royalty stream that can be reinvested at UConn for new technologies and more companies, Seemann said.

UConn’s Technology Incubation Program offers startup companies access to labs and equipment, collaboration with experts and trained student employees and graduates. The program, which operates at Avery Point, Farmington and Storrs, have promoted startup companies that raised $12.8 million in grant funding, $44 million in debt and equity and $9.8 million in revenue between 2013 and 2015. During that same period, the businesses employed on average 54 full-time and 34 part-time employees.

In 2015, the companies also received 12 patents, with 27 pending.

Connecticut has been trying for several years to develop a growing technology sector to promote faster economic growth that has so far eluded the state. Bringing the Jackson Laboratory, just next door to UConn Health in Farmington, was central to that effort.

“It’s research heaven over there,” Seemann said.

The Seven New Planets Next Door

February 24, 2017 – Kim Krieger – UConn Communications

NASA revealed on Feb. 22 that astronomers had discovered a nearby star with seven Earth-like planets. The discovery intrigued astronomers because the star is very small – only a little bigger than Jupiter – and three of the planets are located in the “habitable zone,” meaning they might be able to support life. UConn Today asked UConn astronomers Kate Whitaker, Cara Battersby, and Jonathan Trump to explain how the discovery was made and what it might mean.

Q. Where is this star system in relation to us, and how big is it?

This artist's concept shows what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about the planets’ diameters, masses, and distances from the host star. (NASA Image)
This artist’s concept shows what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about the planets’ diameters, masses, and distances from the host star. (NASA Image)

Whitaker: This exciting discovery is of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a star named TRAPPIST-1. TRAPPIST-1 is located only 12 parsecs away, or 39 light years. This is amazingly close to our own Solar System. However, because it is outside of our Solar System, we refer to it as an “exoplanet” system. This particular star is only about 8 percent the mass of the sun: a cool dwarf star of similar size to our own planet Jupiter. Astronomers already discovered in 2015 that there were three Earth-sized planets orbiting this star, but this recent discovery found an additional four.

The masses of these seven planets range from roughly half the mass of Earth to 1.4 times larger. Their radii are also quite similar to that of Planet Earth, ranging from about 25 percent smaller to 10 percent larger.

Q. How did astronomers see the planets?

Battersby: Despite some of the gorgeous visuals, astronomers haven’t actually seen the planets themselves. What we have seen is their effect on their host star, TRAPPIST-1. Astronomers monitored the brightness of the star. If there happen to be any planets orbiting that star and the system is aligned just right, we can actually see the star dim when the planet transits or passes in front of it. We can occasionally see this effect in our own system from Earth, when Venus transits or goes in front of the sun. By monitoring the brightness of the star for long amounts of time, astronomers can see multiple dimming events due to these transits and learn things about the planets’ orbits, how many planets there are, and even what size they are! Pretty cool.

For this study, astronomers used a variety of ground-based telescopes (the Very Large Telescope in Chile, UKIRT in Hawaii, TRAPPIST-south in Chile, TRAPPIST-north in Morocco, two telescopes in Spain, and the South African Observatory) to carefully monitor the brightness of TRAPPIST-1. In fact, this exoplanet system gets its name TRAPPIST-1 from the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. Early on, there was evidence of at least one planetary transit, so the astronomers kept watching the star. Each new observation allowed astronomers to constrain the properties of the system (number of planets, orbital period, size), but there was still some overlap and uncertainty.

The culmination of this amazing campaign was during the 20-day continuous monitoring project undertaken by the Spitzer Space Telescope, starting on Sept. 19, 2016. This final monitoring project allowed astronomers to observe not just intermediary transits of the planets, but allowed them to see all of the transits continuously, multiple times, finally determining the number of planets in the system, their sizes, and orbital periods. And the results were extraordinary!

Q. Why was this discovery so surprising?

Battersby: The surprising thing about this discovery was to have so many Earth-like planets around one star and in the habitable zone. This system is much different than our solar system. An image from the NASA website highlights this really well:

All seven planets discovered in orbit around the red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 could easily fit inside the orbit of Mercury, the innermost planet of our solar system. In fact, they would have room to spare. TRAPPIST-1 also is only a fraction of the size of our sun; it isn’t much larger than Jupiter. So the TRAPPIST-1 system’s proportions look more like Jupiter and its moons than those of our solar system. (NASA Image)
All seven planets discovered in orbit around the dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 could easily fit inside the orbit of Mercury, the innermost planet of our solar system. In fact, they would have room to spare. TRAPPIST-1 also is only a fraction of the size of our sun; it isn’t much larger than Jupiter. So the TRAPPIST-1 system’s proportions look more like Jupiter and its moons than those of our solar system. (NASA Image)

The planets are really close together, really close to their star, and there are so many rocky or Earth-like planets in the habitable zone! We are still learning so much about how planetary systems form. This example, which is so different than our own, and different than many other exoplanetary systems we’ve seen, opens our eyes to what is possible. As scientists, we want to understand how these systems form, and most of our current models focus on reproducing different types of systems (like our own, or other exoplanet systems). How did this one form?

Most of all, some of us might have dreamed that such a planetary system was possible, but NASA just made that dream a reality, and it surprised a lot of folks because of how different it is from what we’ve seen before. The better our telescopes get, the more we can search out new, different types of planetary systems, like the one we’ve seen here at TRAPPIST-1. How many other weird systems are out there, waiting to be discovered? Or are we the weird ones after all?

Trump: For me, the most surprising part of the discovery is the host star: it is remarkably small, with a mass just barely large enough to be a star with fusion in its core. It’s not obvious that such tiny stars should have planets at all – instead, most planet searches have been around stars more like our Sun.

Observing the sky from one of these planets, the nearest two other planets would be slightly larger than the Moon – so quite a view!

Q. How can there possibly be seven planets in the habitable zone of a small star? Don’t we only have space for one – Earth?

Whitaker: Remember that there is a vast amount of space between each of the planets in our own Solar System, so it isn’t impossible to conceive of such a large number of planets orbiting so close together.

From measuring their orbital periods, the team of astronomers believe that the planets likely formed further away from the star and migrated inwards until they reached their current near-resonant locations. Such an orbital resonance occurs when a planet and star exert a regular, periodic gravitational influence on each other because their orbital periods are related by ratios of small integers. According to the measured periods, this appears to be the case for an impressive six out of the seven planets discovered at TRAPPIST-1.

Trump: Note that the “habitable zone” really just refers to temperature. By some definitions, both Venus and Mars are in our solar system’s habitable zone: but Venus has way too much atmosphere and a runaway greenhouse effect, and Mars has way too little atmosphere. We don’t yet know anything about the atmospheres of the TRAPPIST-1 planets. I suspect that Hubble observations will soon be used to learn more.

This artist's concept allows us to imagine what it would be like to stand on the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, located in the TRAPPIST-1 system in the constellation Aquarius. Because this planet is thought to be tidally locked to its star, meaning the same face of the planet is always pointed at the star, there would be a region called the terminator that perpetually divides day and night. If the night side is icy, the day side might give way to liquid water in the area where sufficient starlight hits the surface. One of the unusual features of TRAPPIST-1 planets is how close they are to each other -- so close that other planets could be visible in the sky from the surface of each one. In this view, the planets in the sky correspond to TRAPPIST1e (top left crescent), d (middle crescent), and c (bright dot to the lower right of the crescents). TRAPPIST-1e would appear about the same size as the moon and TRAPPIST1-c is on the far side of the star. The star itself, an ultra-cool dwarf, would appear about three times larger than our own sun does in Earth's skies. (NASA Image)
This artist’s concept allows us to imagine what it would be like to stand on the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, located in the TRAPPIST-1 system in the constellation Aquarius. Because this planet is thought to be tidally locked to its star, meaning the same face of the planet is always pointed at the star, there would be a region called the terminator that perpetually divides day and night. If the night side is icy, the day side might give way to liquid water in the area where sufficient starlight hits the surface. One of the unusual features of TRAPPIST-1 planets is how close they are to each other so close that other planets could be visible in the sky from the surface of each one. The star itself, an ultra-cool dwarf, would appear about three times larger than our own sun does in Earth’s skies. (NASA Image)

The Trappist-1 system also has some unusual traits that make life a bit more challenging. All seven planets are very likely to be tidally locked to their star: that means one side will be in permanent daylight, while the other is in permanent night. (Our Moon is tidally locked to Earth in the same fashion, such that we always see the same side of the Moon.) Tidal locking would make for some pretty extreme weather as the atmosphere moves across the day/night divide. In addition, this star is unusually X-ray bright (for its low mass): its planets receive ~1000 times as much X-ray light as Earth, and this harsh radiation would be likely to destroy molecules (like O2, CO2, and H2O) in an atmosphere.

I certainly don’t mean to be discouraging – even if life is more challenging on these planets than on Earth, it’s an incredible discovery to find a solar system around such a tiny star. As I see it, the history of planet-hunting has been that almost everywhere we are able to look, we find planets! That’s enough to suggest that we’re very unlikely to be alone in the Universe.

Immunotherapy Helps Woman Fight Deadly Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer patient Marcia Goglia, left, and Dr. Jeffrey Wasser. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Photo)

A 64-year-old woman with ovarian cancer, Marcia Goglia, left, has experienced significant improvements after taking part in a clinical trial combining two immunotherapies led by Dr. Jeffrey Wasser, right, at UConn Health. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Photo)

Marcia Goglia’s stomach suddenly started bothering her one day in 2014. It was becoming swollen and distended.

A few days after her discomfort began, she began experiencing extreme stomach pain, and had to be rushed to her local emergency room.

“My stomach felt big and hard,” says Goglia, 64, of Middletown.

After examination in the ED, she was sent home with a laxative, as the doctors thought it could just be constipation.

But Goglia knew it was more than just that. “Something was desperately wrong,” she recalls.

Hoping to find relief for her stomach pain and to be sure it was indeed nothing serious, Goglia made an appointment with a gastroenterologist. To her surprise, when the CT scan imaging results came back, she was informed that she needed to see her gynecologist right away.

“You have ovarian cancer,” she was told. In fact, it was an aggressive type of the disease and was already at stage III, meaning that the cancer had begun to spread.

Patients with ovarian cancer usually respond well to surgery and chemotherapy in the short term, but often the disease resurfaces, becoming lethal within a year or two. Sadly, the majority of women die within five years of their diagnosis.

Goglia has no family history of ovarian cancer and no genetic predisposition to the disease. She says it was just “plain old bad luck.”

At UConn Health’s Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, Goglia underwent cytoreductive surgery to remove her tumors, and proceeded with chemotherapy. But the chemo soon stopped working. For more than a year, doctors kept trying other chemotherapy combinations unsuccessfully.

That was when her UConn Health gynecology-oncologist at the time, Dr. Angela Kueck, told her about a promising clinical trial at the Neag Cancer Center that was testing the combination of two immunotherapies: Keytruda (pembrolizumab or MK-3475) and Epacadostat (INCB024360), an experimental drug, for a host of advanced cancers, including ovarian cancer.

Just a few months after enrolling in this national clinical trial, known as ECHO-202 and led by Dr. Jeffrey Wasser as principal investigator at the Neag Cancer Center, Goglia got some good news about her cancer.

All of her tumors had shrunk significantly, and even a tumor on her liver was gone. “After seeing my first CT scan results my doctors were amazed and shocked,” she says. Also, her blood tests showed that all her cancer blood markers were extremely low.

“I am so very happy,” says Goglia. “This clinical trial is a miracle for me. I am so grateful to the entire team at UConn Health, Dr. Molly Brewer, Dr. Wasser, and his clinical trial team. If it wasn’t for UConn Health, I might not be here right now.

“I am not out of the woods yet,” she adds, “but thanks to UConn Health there is now a ray of sunshine at the end of the tunnel.”

Wasser notes that it is very courageous for patients like Goglia to volunteer to be in a clinical trial.

“By enrolling in a clinical trial a person may be helping their own health,” he says. “But they are also helping others by contributing to the advancement of potential and promising cures going forward.”

To others living with an advanced cancer diagnosis, Goglia says, “If your traditional cancer treatment isn’t working, don’t be afraid to pursue your clinical trial options.”

Her current gynecology-oncologist, Brewer, who is also chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UConn Health, says, “Marcia’s latest imaging shows her ovarian cancer tumors continuing to shrink, which is great news for her and shows the possible promise of these combination immunotherapies for other women like her with ovarian cancer.”

Addressing Crises in Recovery from Trauma

March 2, 2017 – Chris DeFrancesco – School of Medicine and Dental Medicine

Psychiatry professor Julian Ford is an expert on post-traumatic stress. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Center Photo)

Psychiatry professor Julian Ford is an expert on post-traumatic stress. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health File Photo)

When it comes to traumatized youth, therapists are well versed in how to deliver evidence-based treatment, and there are clear guidelines for safety and for ethical therapeutic behavior.

There are no hard and fast guidelines for how to respond at the moment when a child says she or he is going to commit suicide.
— Julian Ford

But while they’re helping children recover from complex trauma, potentially dangerous clinical therapy dilemmas – such as the risk of suicide, self-harm, or other violent behavior – can emerge.

For those situations, the best-practices book is largely empty.

UConn Health clinical psychologist Julian Ford is leading a national effort to get that book written, by developing a repository of demonstrations of how these critical incidents can be handled.

“There are no hard and fast guidelines for how to respond at the moment when a child says she or he is going to commit suicide, or when a parent becomes so angry at a child that they start yelling at them and you can see the beginnings of what might actually be abuse outside the therapy session,” Ford says. “It’s those critical incidents – when a crisis is just about to happen or is just happening – that therapists have no systematic guidance on how to handle. And that’s what we’re going to address.”
Psychiatry professor Julian Ford is an expert on post-traumatic stress. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Center Photo)
Psychiatry professor Julian Ford is an expert on post-traumatic stress. (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health File Photo)

Ford, a professor of psychiatry and law, recently started the Center for the Treatment of Developmental Trauma Disorders at UConn Health. The CTDTD is part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a group of programs funded by the Department of Health and Human Services that exist to provide or improve services for children who’ve experienced trauma.

Ford says the initiative will attempt something that he believes has not been done before: Experts in the field of developmental and complex trauma will address important challenges presenting in therapy when working with highly traumatized children and families.

“Hopefully we’ll advance knowledge in the field,” he says.

The CTDTD is one of two centers at UConn Health for which Ford won separate federal grants last year, each worth $3 million over five years. The other is the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice, which started in 2012 and focuses on advancing the treatment of traumatized children who’ve been involved in the juvenile justice system.
Performers from the Looking In theater group stay in character as they take questions from middle-school students following a dramatic presentation at the Academy of Science and Innovation in New Britain. (Photo by Greg Person)
Performers from the Looking In Theatre group stay in character as they take questions from middle-school students following a dramatic presentation at the Academy of Science and Innovation in New Britain. (Photo by Greg Person)

As director of both, Ford is the only principal investigator nationwide with two National Child Traumatic Stress Network centers.

Ford and associate director Rocio Chang, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry who sees patients in UConn Health’s child and adolescent psychiatry practice in West Hartford, have detailed plans for the new center over the next five years. They will start by engaging experts from across the U.S. to help identify the moments in therapeutic services that are the most critical, dangerous, and difficult.

“We’re surveying people all over the country, not just professionals, but also the youth and families themselves,” Ford says. “We’ll probably end up with 50 or 60 moments that every therapist wants to know how to handle and nobody has a definite answer for.”

Once they’ve identified the critical incidents to tackle, Ford and Chang will bring in another important partner. They’ve enlisted the Looking In Theatre to perform dramatizations to illustrate the stresses and traumas that children and adolescents experience.
Performers from the Looking In theater group take questions from middle-school students at the Academy of Science and Innovation in New Britain. (Photo by Greg Person)
Performers from Looking In Theatre take questions from middle-school students at the Academy of Science and Innovation in New Britain. Looking In will provide dramatizations of challenging incidents to be used in training webinars that the Center for Treatment of Developmental Trauma Disorders will offer to therapists across the country, as it works toward developing guidelines for how to handle critical moments during patient interactions. (Photo by Greg Person)

Looking In is a program of the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, an interdistrict magnet high school of the Capitol Region Education Council. The student performers travel to schools and youth organizations throughout the state and present dramatic scenes about issues that challenge adolescents, such as drug or alcohol use, teen pregnancy, bullying, and suicide. After the performances, they stay in character and take questions from their audiences, who are largely middle and high school students.

For this project, the audience will not be their peers, but rather, national experts in child and adolescent behavioral health who serve those peers.

“They’re going to actually act out the role of a child or teenager, and we’ll have some adults who are going to play the role of the adult, and we’re going to have moments of therapy sessions or assessment sessions that we’ll film to show exactly what happens,” Ford says. “One of our expert clinicians will be in the therapy session and will demonstrate an approach to handle that critical moment.”

In addition to their theatrical contributions, the Looking In students also are serving as advisers, bringing the perspective of today’s teens.

Video from these reenactments will be incorporated into a series of webinars for therapists across the country, not only as a training tool for them, but also as a mechanism to collect intelligence from those experts to further shape the new center’s work.

Ford is aiming to produce 54 webinars over five years in the effort to facilitate a national multimodal learning community on developmental trauma disorders. He intends to reach more than 40,000 counselors.

“We’ll be working with other centers and groups in this network that have fabulous, outstanding treatment models and approaches to treatment and to dealing with the general issues in treatment,” Ford says. “The expertise is out there. We’re not duplicating that. We’re building alongside of it.”

From Forest Labs to Rare Diseases

photo of Kepeng Wang, assistant professor of immunology, right, works with research associate Kasandra Rodriguez in the lab at CaroGen Corp. in the technology incubator at Farmington

Philanthropic Grants Boost UConn’s Research Partnerships with Industries

By Grace Merritt and Jessica McBride

Deep in the woods behind Horsebarn Hill, UConn has its own forest lab.

There, you’ll see sensors on trees of different species shifting and swaying under ice, snow, wind and torrential rain. It’s all about the biomechanics in a carefully cultivated forest to glean state-of-the-art data on how trees sway and bend with the wind and develop wind-firmness.

Across campus, expert scientists and engineers combine laser technology images from planes to create 3-D computer models of a neighborhood’s trees and phone, cable and power lines. The outcome – a real-life snapshot of tree growth rates that can impact utilities.

A dedicated UConn and Eversource Energy Center team works daily with these and other state-of-the-art tools to improve electric reliability, enhance emergency preparedness during storms, and reduce and shorten outages during storms. Leveraging the expertise of UConn’s faculty, post-doctoral and graduate researchers, and industry partners, the Center is building the electric grid of the future, today, together with federal and state agencies.

Partnering with Leading Businesses

This academia-utility partnership represents an expanding direction for UConn. Industry partnerships like these fund researchers and teach graduate students research skills while leveraging the research capabilities of the state’s flagship public university. Together, they support economic growth in Connecticut and lead to innovative discoveries.

“With our partnership with UConn, our vision for the Eversource Energy Center as a scientific, research, and operational hub is a reality,” said Ken Bowes, Eversource Energy Vice President – Transmission Performance. “The grid of the future will be unlike anything we’ve encountered, with smart homes, smart cities, and an intelligent, interactive, automated grid. Our Center is ready to lead these important conversations, driving the innovations and advances that will create the grid of the future.”

UConn is also teaming up with industry leaders in the life sciences to develop new healthcare technologies and therapies. New Haven-based Alexion Pharmaceuticals and UConn recently announced a joint fund to develop life-saving therapies for patients with rare and devastating diseases.

The new fund expands upon existing research collaborations between UConn faculty and Alexion. David Goldhamer, PhD, a molecular and cell biologist, for instance, identified the cell type responsible for a group of rare and disabling disorders and has developed disease models that can be used to test new potential therapies.

Another sponsored research collaboration focuses on the targeted cellular repair platform work of Catherine Wu, PhD, and George Wu, MD, PhD, Director, Hepatology Section, Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology at UConn Health have been pioneers in the field of targeted restoration of damaged cells. The husband-and-wife team’s innovative technology is being used in collaborative research to determine if normal cell function can be restored in defective cells that cause rare diseases.

A record-breaking year for philanthropic grants

The $9 million grant from Eversource contributed to a record year in fiscal 2016 for the UConn Foundation’s philanthropic gifts and grants for research, more than doubling its prior record year. The Eversource grant, along with a $5.7 million award from the John Templeton Foundation to study how to balance humility and conviction in public life, and other gifts, funneled $25.3 million from the UConn Foundation into research.

UConn's philanthropic grants spike upward. The UConn foundation helped bring in millions more in philanthropic grants over the last three years.The Foundation’s fundraising through philanthropic gifts and grants have grown dramatically from $7.1 million in 2014 and $9.6 million in 2015, to $25.3 million in 2016.

These philanthropic gifts and grants are just a fraction of UConn’s nearly $250 million annual research enterprise, which includes federal grants. But in an era when state and federal research funds are shrinking, these industry partnerships pay for research and much more.

“The partnerships provide valuable research for companies, as well as scholarships and fellowships for the students and faculty doing the research,” said Joshua Newton, president and CEO of the UConn Foundation. “They are helping to build the next generation workforce by training researchers and scientists and often hiring them.”

UConn’s Research & Innovation Pipeline

UConn is committed to supporting existing industries and growing new entrepreneurial ventures. To help foster these partnerships, UConn has hired an executive director of venture development, has launched early-stage funding programs to advance promising technologies, and has taken other steps to help bring UConn’s research and innovation to the community.

The University uses its in-house expertise to transform UConn discoveries into products and services that benefit society. A team of technology commercialization experts in the Office of the Vice President for Research helps faculty and students with patent protection, licensing, business mentorship, startup formation, and connections with industry partners.

The goal of this support is to move life-saving technologies from the lab to the marketplace. One such technology in development is a new drug to treat and cure patients with advanced heart failure. Dr. Bruce Liang, Dean of the School of Medicine and a clinical cardiologist, is developing a treatment that can help patients with advanced heart failure.

“Due to advanced age or coexisting conditions, we can’t try to help these patients with a cardiac transplant or ventricular-assist device,” said Dr. Liang. “I formed Cornovus Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2011 with UConn’s support to pursue a treatment for this critical unmet need and to give these patients a chance to survive and thrive.”

Cornovus has already secured funding from the SMARTT (Science Moving towards Research Translation and Therapy) program from the National Institutes of Health and has raised an additional $3.5 million for preclinical testing to gain FDA approval for an investigational new drug (IND). At that point, Cornovus would be in a position to carry out first-in-human testing and will need to raise another $20 million to conduct advanced human clinical trials.

“A critical part of UConn’s research mission is to support the development of innovative technologies coming out of University labs that could benefit Connecticut’s citizens and grow the state’s economy,” said UConn Vice President for Research, Jeff Seemann, PhD. “We’ve seen very positive growth in the area of technology commercialization over the last several years, and we’re confident the trend will continue as UConn supports University startups and fosters new and existing relationships with our industry partners,” he said.

New UConn startups and external technology ventures can find the physical space and the business support they need in UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP). Industry leaders can collaborate with faculty through corporate-sponsored research agreements. This has led to innovations in several fields, including: precision medicine, sustainable technology, diagnostics, advanced materials and additive manufacturing, software, polymers and composites, bioinformatics, drug development and delivery, biomedical devices, nanotechnology, and cybersecurity.

Emerging immunotherapy company CaroGen Corp. is located at TIP in Farmington and is currently collaborating with UConn Health researchers to develop a vaccine to treat patients with colon cancer.

CaroGen’s proprietary technology platform is being applied to several diseases, including a specific target studied by UConn Health researchers Kepeng Wang, assistant professor of immunology, and Anthony T. Vella, professor and Boehringer Ingelheim Chair in Immunology.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work so closely with UConn’s internationally-recognized faculty,” said CaroGen CEO Bijan Almassian. “Working with UConn lets us aggressively pursue our vaccine technology for several devastating diseases, like colon cancer, so that we can more quickly reach the market and provide a solution for patients.”

The UConn Technology Incubation Program has already generated:

  • 239 ongoing research projects with promise for future innovation
  • 129 technologies available for license
  • 35 startup companies in the UConn Technology Incubation Program
  • About 60 new inventions annually
  • About $1 million annually in licensing revenue
  • More than 500 U.S. patents based on UConn technologies

To help support these ventures and established industry leaders, the University is building the Innovation Partnership Building at the UConn Tech Park in Storrs, which will provide physical space and state-of-the-art equipment to encourage collaboration between the University and industry. At the same time, UConn is constructing a five-story engineering and science building in Storrs that will house labs for its growing research programs in genomics, biomedical, chemical engineering, and cyber systems.

These innovations also extend to UConn Health in Farmington, Conn. Five years after state lawmakers made a massive investment to grow bioscience sectors in Connecticut, the UConn Health campus has become a thriving hub for bioscience R&D activities. The Bioscience CT initiative has included major renovations to research and hospital facilities and the relocation of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine to the UConn Health campus.

Along with these initiatives, the University completed a $19 million, 20,000-square-foot addition at UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP) facility in Farmington in 2016. TIP was established in 2003 to accelerate the growth and success of technology-based startups. The program has helped more than 85 companies since then, and has created more than 100 full- and part-time jobs in the last year alone.