24 scientists and researchers receive awards from the Technology Development Group

Twenty four UCLA researchers have been named recipients of the 2021 UCLA Innovation Fund Biomedical Competition Awards.

These grants, up to $150,000 per project, support early-stage research leading to commercialization activities, which are not typically funded by basic research grants. As a result, researchers can develop their technologies to a point where the chances of success are greatly increased. All winning projects receive consultation from a group of external industry and investor advisors, who provide technical and business feedback that is critical to technology development.

The UCLA Innovation Fund was established in 2016 by the UCLA Technology Development Group, in collaboration with UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences Divisions from UCLA College, UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, UCLA School of Dentistry and UCLA Health.

Applicants’ projects were evaluated on the basis of their novelty, importance and potential public interest, as well as the status of intellectual property and other factors related to the technical feasibility and commercial potential of the projects.

The two streams of the 2021 cycle were therapeutics and medical technology.

The winners of the therapeutic course:

  • Peter Clark, assistant professor of molecular and medical pharmacology; Robert Damoiseau, professor of molecular and medical pharmacology; Dr. Richard Finn, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology; Harvey Herschman, Emeritus Research Professor, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology; and Varghese John, Professor of Neurology and Principal Investigator at UCLA’s Drug Discovery Lab were recognized for their work developing a hexokinase 2 inhibitor to treat hepatocellular carcinoma.
  • Arpana Gupta, adjunct assistant professor in the division of digestive diseases; Dr. Tien Dong; Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine; Dr. Jonathan Jacobs Assistant Professor in Residence in the Division of Digestive Diseases; and Dr. Emeran Mayer, Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Psychiatry, received funding for their treatment for obesity and food addiction by harnessing the brain-gut axis.
  • Dr. Dinesh Rao, associate professor, pathology and laboratory medicine; Robert Damoiseau, professor of molecular and medical pharmacology; and Neil Garg, a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, received funding for his small molecule approach targeting RNA-binding proteins in cancer cells.

The winners of the medical technology course:

  • The team led by Dr. Renea Sturm, pediatric urologist and assistant professor of urology, joined by George Aninwene II, Peyton Tebon and Ali Khademhosseini, former professor of bioengineering, have invented a new urological tissue repair device.
  • A. Michael van Dam and his team of Jason Jones and Ksenia Lisova have developed a device that enables on-demand manufacturing of radiopharmaceuticals.
  • The team of Glen Meyerowitz, Dr. Igor Barjaktarevic, Dr. Obi Emeruwa and Onike Williams have invented a new device that enables personalized ventilation of each lung for patients with acute lung injury.
  • Jeff Chiang, Adjunct Adjunct Professor and Head of the Computational Medicine Technology Core, has worked with Dr. Srinivas Sadda to advance a diagnostic that detects macular degeneration in its early stages while intervention is still possible.

The UCLA Innovation Fund is currently accepting 2022 applications. Click here for more information.

Ruby A. Robillard