UT Faculty Receive Funds to Drive Further Development of Technologies

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The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) has selected four UTHSC researchers or research teams to receive technology development grants for 2011.

The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) has selected four UTHSC researchers or research teams to receive technology development grants for 2011. Grant funds will allow researchers to further develop or “mature” their technologies so that they are better positioned for licensing and commercialization.

Researchers were invited to propose work on inventions and discoveries that had been previously disclosed to UTRF or to propose work on new inventions and discoveries. A total of 22 proposals were submitted from UTHSC and UTRF funded four of them for a total of $57,750.

UTRF used a panel of subject matter and technology commercialization experts from across the state to evaluate both the technology and the development plan proposed by each researcher. UTRF also solicited advice from Technology 2020 and Innova Memphis, economic development organizations engaged by UTRF to assist with technology commercialization.

The maturation program already has shown how modest amounts of funding can significantly impact the potential success of an invention and attract additional funding for research and commercialization. Prior to this year’s investment, UTRF funded 13 UTHSC projects over three years for a total of $180,000. As a result, these projects have attracted more than 17 times that investment: over $3.2 million in follow-on federal funding and $30,000 in corporate matching funds have been secured for these technologies. Additionally there have been licenses or options executed for five of the technologies.

The following UTHSC proposals were selected for funding in FY 2011:

Mohamad ElAbiad, Keith English, Ajay Talati, Jie Zhang and Jacques Samson (Department of Pediatrics) for a method to determine lung maturity in fetuses
Monica Jablonski (Department of Ophthalmology) for a new ocular drug delivery system
Wei Li, Jianjun Chen, Jin Wang, Duane Miller, Arnold Postlethwaite, and Andrzej Slominski (Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Rheumatology and Pathology) for safety and dosing studies on a potential new arthritis treatment
Lawrence Pfeffer and Charles Handorf (Department of Pathology) for a test to predict patient responsiveness to conventional Hepatitis C therapy

Upon completion of the development work, UTRF will receive reports from the researchers describing the new knowledge gained and improvements made in the subject technology. These results are expected to allow UTRF to better position the technologies for licensing to either an existing company or a new start-up entity.

The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) helps inventors at the University of Tennessee (UT) turn their ideas and discoveries into products and services that benefit society. In addition to supporting the university research enterprise and commercializing the resulting inventions, UTRF also supports entrepreneurship as well as state and regional economic development efforts. UTRF serves all seven of the UT campuses and institutes across the state. For more information, visit http://utrf.tennessee.edu.