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UMass Chan BRIDGE Fund commits $2M in six faculty projects

Awarded projects hold promise for translation to clinical application and commercialization

Group shot of Parth Chakrabarti, Scot Wolfe, Lauren Zingarelli, Paul Thompson, Sharon Cantor, Li Li, George Xixis, and Andrew Moomey in front of a staircase
From left, Parth Chakrabarti, MPH, MBA; Scot Wolfe, PhD; Lauren Zingarelli; Paul Thompson, PhD; Sharon Cantor, PhD; Li Li, PhD; George Xixis, JD, MA; and Andrew Moomey  

BRIDGE Innovation and Business Development at UMass Chan Medical School has committed nearly $2 million in funding this year for six UMass Chan Medical School investigator-led research projects that hold promise for translation to clinical application and commercialization.

Awardees were selected by internal stakeholders and the external advisory board based on scientific merit, market opportunity and commercial viability.

“These six pioneering projects showcase the translational potential UMass Chan research has for clinical application and commercialization,” said Parth Chakrabarti, MPH, MBA, executive vice chancellor for innovation and business development. “Our world-class faculty are producing new biomedical insights into genetics, medicine and human disease that have the capacity to lead to new therapeutics to patients in the clinic. That is why, over the past six years, we have committed more than $8.5 million to build a strong pipeline of cutting-edge inventions across new therapeutics and medical devices,”

The BRIDGE Fund supports critical research milestones for inventions and discoveries that have high potential to change the course of disease. BRIDGE funding mitigates external investment risk by producing key data sets that would provide an attractive entry-point for partners and investors.

“I continue to be impressed by the excellent quality of the science and research being supported by the UMass Chan BRIDGE Fund,” said Joe Sypek, PhD, a scientific advisor for the Lupus Research Alliance, former research and development director with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited and former research scientist with Pfizer. “The projects selected for funding all have great potential for advancing their respective fields of research and the promise of advancing optimal therapies for affected patients. I’m hopeful that collectively these funded research efforts will provide both better insights and benefit to achieving the best possible in patient care and medicine.”

As part of the venture model approach, continued project funding will be linked to milestone achievements. Developmental milestones have clear objectives and detailed criteria for advancement before receiving additional funding and proceeding to successive milestones. BRIDGE will work closely with faculty over the next year to track progress. The official submission process for faculty interested in consideration for the next round of funding will open in the fall.

2024 BRIDGE Fund awardees

  • Sharon Cantor, PhD, the Gladys Smith Martin Chair in Oncology, professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology
    GapScore assay identifies chemo-sensitive cancers.
  • Li Li, PhD, assistant professor of RNA therapeutics
    Developing nucleoside-modified circular mRNAs as a durable and non-immunogenic platform for mRNA therapeutics
  • Scot Wolfe, PhD, professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology
    CRISPR-mediated selective killing of cancer cells harboring gene amplifications
  • Paul Thompson, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular biotechnology
    Development of a PAD2 inhibitor for the treatment of inflammatory disease
  • Dan Wang, PhD, assistant professor of RNA therapeutics
    Targeted AAV-NoSTOP gene therapy
  • Marcus Ruscetti, PhD, assistant professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology
    Engineering multi-targeted LNPs for improved delivery and retention of tumor and immune therapies in pancreatic cancer