April, 2021. A new patent has been issued this month for work in the lab of Dr. George Karniadakis (US 10,963,540). Professor of Applied Mathematics and Engineering, Karniadakis uses machine learning to model physical and biological systems. This patent is for an approach that uses differential equations to analyze objects.
April, 2021. BTI kicks off a monthly initiative to share resources focused on educating and encouraging faculty interested in patents, startups and licensing. Check out this playlist of short podcasts, A Guide to University Spinouts hosting several researchers and entrepreneurs. Sangeeta Bhatia, (Brown class of ’90), Professor of Engineering at MIT, has launched multiple biotech companies leveraging nanoparticles developed in the lab for medical use. Pulling from her own experience, Dr. Bhatia shares a “playlist” of short podcasts describing what a faculty entrepreneur should know before starting a new company.
“How do I know when technology is ready to be commercialized?” That is just one of many questions answered by a panel of academics who have launched startups, business development directors, and current CEOs.
April, 2021. Brown is partnering with BridgeBio to advance new treatments for neurological diseases with genetic origins. BridgeBio will work with scientists to evaluate discoveries made in the lab and develop them into potential treatments for patients. The partnership will support Brown scientists as technologies transition to clinical development and maintain Brown scientists involved as company leaders through BridgeBio’s affiliate companies.
April, 2021. The annual AUTM meeting supports engagement between industry partners and university tech transfer offices. This year’s virtual AUTM meeting took place in March and featured 39 exhibitors including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and the National Institute on Aging. The keynote speakers were Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman to go into space, and Dr. Antwi Akom, Director of the Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab.
March, 2021. At a conference, the conversation in the hallways is often where the insights and connections happen. While the JP Morgan Health Care Conference was not in person in San Francisco this year—like it usually is—the Brown Technology Innovations team attended the virtual meetings. One year into the “Decade of Neuroscience”, the JPM Conference was a chance to learn about which neuro-technologies and strategies life science companies are pursuing. This report shares our insights about where companies are looking for innovation.
March, 2021. Looking back a year—everyone is doing it—we see Brown inventors who pivoted to find ways to address the pandemic.
First up: making schools and public spaces safer from COVID-19 and Influenza A virus H1N1 in under one minute. Amanda Jamieson, a respiratory virologist (Molecular Microbiology and Immunology), performed independent testing of a nano-material, GC Ink™. According to her report release at the end of February, GC Ink™ neutralized 100% of the virus present.
This fast-acting, extremely effective, and safe formulation of graphene and silver nanoparticles can be applied to masks and other PPE, and in particular, applied to filters in ventilation systems. When used in filters and masks, GC Ink™ is highly effective at trapping and neutralizing airborne coronaviruses and other viruses/bacteria for several weeks. When used in wipes, GC Ink also leaves a thin, highly effective, safe layer of protection against viruses and bacteria that lasts for 24 hours. The press release is here.
Last spring, researchers in Dan Harris’s lab began developing a rapidly-deployable ventilator, addressing critical shortages worldwide. The design utilizes 3D-printed mechanical components, off-the-shelf parts and open-source electronics that allow for easy use in resource-limited settings. Called Brun02, the team—which now includes collaborators from other universities—is working to submit a specific variant of the BrunO2 ventilator prototype to the United States for review under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) authority. Brown recently signed a collaboration agreement with Stanford and the University of Utah for continued work on this project. See the Brun02 website for more.
March, 2021. Last month, Brown was awarded three patents. Christoph Rose-Petruck and Brian Sheldon led the research behind an in-situ x-ray scatter imaging of battery electrodes (US 10,833,374). Nitin Padture and Yuanyuan Zaho’s team patented discoveries from their work with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) on perovskite films and methods (Padture, Zhao, US 10,910,569). The most recent patent from Gabriel Taubin—whose work has led to many patent awards to Brown—was for a method that uses high frequency sinusoidal patterns to measure three-dimensional objects (US 20190101382A1).
Also, we are proud to share that we passed last year’s total for number of disclosures—a key entry point to explore commercial applications of research—before the third quarter was out (53 YTD 2020, vs 54 Q3FY2021). Brown researchers can start the disclosure process here.
February, 2021. The J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference presents a unique opportunity to connect with investors and companies in the biomedical field gathered in one place. While the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2021 JPM meeting to occur remotely, Brown Technology Innovations seized the opportunity to meet with dozens of clients. The team highlighted 20 faculty members with transformative innovations and intellectual property in the health space. Those technologies fit into five biomedical categories:
- Better diagnosis. Harrison Bai and the Brown Baby Cry team led by Barry Lester are among those using machine learning and other advanced technologies to improve the speed and accuracy of disease diagnosis.
- Drug delivery. Researchers including Anita Shukla and Edith Mathiowitz focus on ways to ensure that medication most effectively reaches its intended target in the body.
- Laboratory test beds. Kareen Coulombe, Jeffrey Morgan, and Gregorio Valdez build new powerful platforms for laboratory testing, allowing new pharmaceuticals to be tested on three-dimensional bioengineered tissue.
- Unlocking neurodegenerative disease. A number of Brown faculty members concentrate on the detection and treatment of brain diseases afflicting millions of Americans, including Alzheimer’s disease and NPH.
- Novel treatments. Nikos Tapinos, Wafik El-Deiry, and Elena Oancea have developed creative treatments for conditions from obesity to COVID-19.
The BTI met with representatives from 45 companies, from biosciences venture capital firms like Northpond Ventures to pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and AstraZeneca to neuroscience-focused firms such as Neuron23.
February, 2021. Tech Innovations hosted Elm Street Ventures (ESV) in January to showcase five life science research projects with potential for commercial applications. The ESV principals provided useful feedback on new ideas emerging from faculty inventors. The faculty presenters and technologies included:
- New method fabricates decellularized human extracellular matrix morsels for tissue regeneration, especially after myocardial infarction. Blanche Ip, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology (research). Jeffrey R. Morgan, PhD, Professor of Medical Science and Professor of Engineering.
- Novel technology uses synthetic oligonucleotides to target and knock out expression of specific enhancer RNAs in glioma stem cells that are correlated with decreased survival in glioblastoma patients. Nikos Tapinos, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery (research).
- A novel diagnostic technology to detect normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), which is often misdiagnosed as neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Alexander Fleischman, PhD, Provost’s Associate Professor of Brain Science.
- A 3D in vitro screening platform for toxicity testing uses stem cell-derived human cardiac microtissues to quantify dose-dependent changes in electrical activity. Kareen L. K. Coulombe, PhD, Assistant Professor of Engineering and Assistant Professor of Molecular Pharmacology.
- Research by Justin Fallon enabled Startup Bolden Therapeutics’ development of treatment for central nervous system diseases based on stimulation of endogenous neural stem cells to promote neurogenesis. Justin Fallon, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.
February, 2021. Tech Innovations has accelerated its work to connect Brown inventors with entrepreneurs who can guide their approach to commercial applications of their research. Barry Lester, PhD, Director of the Center for the Study of Children at Risk at Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School, is developing a handheld device that uses a cloud-based algorithm to determine if the cries of an infant with prenatal opioid exposure meet the criteria for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Dr. Lester is a recipient of support through the Brown Biomedical Innovation to Impact fund (2020).
Peter O’Neill, a serial entrepreneur most recently Executive Director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations and former CEO of Custom Orthopaedic Solutions, describes his view on Lester’s innovation: "This technology applies machine learning algorithms to analyze audio information from baby cry that is not discernable to the human ear, resulting in a powerful diagnostic tool."
February, 2021. Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, has announced that Dr. Megan Ranney has agreed to serve as the School’s Associate Dean for Strategy and Innovation. Dr. Ranney has served in an informal advising role to the Dean for several months on many key initiatives critical to the School. The School of Public Health press release is here.
January, 2021. Brown Technology Innovations is thrilled to have Melissa Simon join our team as Business Development Director. She will work with Dave Potter supporting life science researchers and inventors. Melissa has over fifteen years of experience in pharmaceutical and biotechnology research, development, and commercialization. Prior to joining Brown, Melissa served as the VP of Life Sciences Business Development for RI Commerce, responsible for strategically growing Rhode Island’s life science ecosystem. A graduate in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, she also holds a PhD in biomedical engineering from Columbia University.
January, 2021. A startup based on research by Justin Fallon and Ashley Webb, Bolden Therapeutics, recently won the “Golden Ticket” award from BioGen. The Biogen Golden Ticket award in Neuroscience identifies promising neuroscience startups to support. The winning applicant receives a “Golden Ticket” for “waitlist priority and a voucher for one year of prepaid rent for a reserved bench for one scientist at LabCentral, Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.” Bolden (inc. 2019) is developing first-in-class therapeutics to treat central nervous system diseases such as Alzheimer’s, depression and ischemic stroke.
January, 2021. Disturbances in circadian rhythms, particularly sleep regulation, can dramatically affect performance and often play a role in industrial and engineering disasters. Last month, Brown University/Bradley Hospital jointly received a US Patent (US 10850061) for a lighting system for circadian control and performance enhancement.
The invention, developed from research led by Dr. Eliza Van Reen, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior, consists of behavior- or illumination-sensing hardware and a lighting system that controls both lighting intensity and timing. The system could be used to treat jetlag and age- or disease-related circadian changes, to compensate for insufficiently illuminated workplaces, and to enable team work by individuals on divergent work/sleep schedules. The other members of Dr. Van Reen’s team are Gustavo E. Fernandes, Jingming Xu, and Mary A. Carskadon. Drs. Van Reen and Fernandes are founders of the startup Circadian Positioning Systems.
January, 2021 The Brown Biomedical Innovations to Impact (BBII) fund received special attention in the Dean’s report from the Warren Alpert Medical School. Lead by Karen Bulock, BBII was established in 2018 and has awarded funds to two cohorts so far, and is in the process of awarding a third this spring. See page 37 of their full research report.
December, 2020. Brown Biomedical Innovations to Impact (BBII) is an academic accelerator fund dedicated to supporting academic biomedical technologies--with potential for high impact--to become well-defined product opportunities that are attractive to industry partners and investors. More details are here. Deadline: December 17.
December, 2020. Techstyle Materials, founded and led by Professor Derek Stein (Physics), has been named to Cleantech Group's "50 to Watch" companies for 2020. More on Cleantech's announcment is here.
December, 2020. The second patent issued this year to Brown for research led by Dr. Yongsong Huang (US 10,843,165), this patent covers a unique chromatographic separation system using selenium containing functional groups (the first patent was US 10,549,255). Chromatography is used to separate organic compounds. Beyond applications in academic and pharmaceutical research, chromatography is used most frequently for quality control and research in the food industry. This patent was licensed to a world-wide leader in chromatography and in analytical and organic chemistry. Dr. Hunag’s team includes Yongsong Huang, Jose C. Aponte, Rafael Tarozo, James Dillon.
December, 2020. The DRIVEN Accelerator Hub, an NIH/NIGMS-funded consortium serving biomedical entrepreneurs in Northeast IDeA states, is pleased to offer funds for innovations or discoveries that need additional experimentation before company formation. Internal application deadline January 11, 2021. More details here, or email [email protected], Director of the Brown Biomedical Innovation to Impact (BBII) Fund.