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UMass seed-funding program awards grants to two UMMS tech development projects

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

May 02, 2017
  Kelli Hickle, MD
 

Kelli Hickle, MD

   
  Raymond Dunn, MD
 

Raymond Dunn, MD

   
  Zuoshang Xu, MD, PhD
 

Zuoshang Xu, MD, PhD

   
  Thoru Pederson, PhD
 

Thoru Pederson, PhD

Two promising research projects at UMass Medical School are getting $25,000 each in seed funding from the UMass Technology Development Fund. One study is focused on developing technology to prevent bedsores. The other seeks to rapidly diagnose a mutated gene that causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Eight projects across the University of Massachusetts system are receiving funds from the fund, which helps to bring cutting-edge UMass research to market.

Raymond M. Dunn, MD, professor of surgery, and Kelli Hickle, MD, plastic and reconstructive surgery resident, are developing a wireless-enabled disposable sensor patch designed to prevent pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, to be worn on at-risk locations on the body. Drs. Dunn and Hickle are working with colleagues from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, including John McNeill, PhD, professor of electrical & computer engineering; Yitzhak Mendelson, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering; and Xinming Huang, PhD, professor electrical & computer engineering.

Zuoshang Xu, MD, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, and Thoru Pederson, PhD, the Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology, and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, have developed a method to detect a mutated gene that causes a majority of inherited cases of the severe neurodegenerative disease ALS. The researchers are working to adapt the method to inner cheek cell specimens.

This year’s recipients of awards from the UMass Technology Development Fund, selected from among 45 applicants, were chosen for their project’s commercial viability, with the hope that development of the technology will lead to a startup company or licensing agreement.

“These awards highlight faculty excellence and underscore the role of a public research university to advance knowledge and spur entrepreneurship and economic development,” UMass President Marty Meehan said.

Since 2004, UMass has invested more than $2.5 million in faculty research and development projects, leading to $15 million in follow-on investment, generating numerous commercial licenses and patents and resulting in startup companies locating in Massachusetts.

Funding for the annual awards comes from commercial licensing income on previous faculty discoveries along with a grant from the President’s Office. The university has a strong record of generating income from the commercialization of its academic research and is typically among the top 15 universities in a national survey of income generated by technology transfer.

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