Technology Maturation Awards

The Technology Maturation Award (TMA) offers the opportunity to increase the marketability of technologies already marketed by the George Washington University (GW) Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) for their promising commercial potential and societal impact. TMA supports commercial potential demonstration projects for academic research outputs in any science and engineering discipline. This demonstration is achieved through proof-of-concept, prototyping, technology development and/or scale-up work. Successful TMA projects generate technology validation necessary to attract experienced licensees.

Type of Award: Grant or Continuing Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: up to 5 per year

TMA Award Amount: up to $50,000

TMA Award duration: 6-12 months per award

Who May Submit Proposals? GW faculty inventors with a GW-owned invention available for licensing. If you have a new idea, disclose it to TCO before applying for this award.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 2

Deadline: Check for future requests for proposals in Spring 2021.

 

Winners of Technology Maturation Awards

Photo of Professor Mona Zaghloul  Photo of Professor Jeanne A. Jordan

Professor Mona Zaghloul and Professor Jeanne A. Jordan

COVID-19 Diagnostic Device

This recipient project could yield a significant reduction in the spread of COVID-19. The award winners, Professor Mona Zaghloul of the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences and Professor Jeanne A. Jordan of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, propose a novel, rapid and inexpensive COVID-19 diagnosis method and device allowing for the early detection of infected individuals.

The device will detect the presence of COVID-19 viruses in tested individuals via a novel biosensing technology invented in Professor Zaghloul’s laboratory in collaboration with the Biomolecular Measurement Division at the National Institute for Standards and Technology. The low-cost device will enable the rapid and efficient screening of a large number of individuals in both hospital and home settings. This method has the potential to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 by enabling the early detection of infected individuals, and subsequently allowing those individuals to self-isolate. Once developed for use in COVID-19 detection, this device and method may be modified and customized to detect other future viruses.

Since then, the intellectual property rights to this technology have been licensed to Hoth Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company. Hoth Therapeutics has also entered into a sponsored research agreement with the GW for more research and development on this promising technology.

 

Photo of Assistant Professor Inhee Chung

Assistant Professor Inhee Chung

Super zoom for standard microscopes

Award winner, Assistant Professor Inhee Chung of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center, will further develop a nanofabricated sample holder to visualize proteins inside or on the surface of cells using light microscopy.

Powerful, expensive tools can perform nanoscale 3-D localization in the plasma membrane, but only on fixed or ruptured cells. Dr. Chung’s new inexpensive device will enable standard microscopes to monitor near-real-time 3-D changes of nanometer-scale membrane topology and protein distribution in both live and fixed cells. The new device will bring single-molecule imaging to the masses and enable more accurate visualization deeper inside cells than possible before.

The worldwide microscope market is expected to grow by $15.1 billion by 2026 (7.9%/yr). 3-D topography is an emerging field of study poised to provide fundamental insights to biology when it can be performed by a broader user base.

 

Photo of Assistant Professor Alejandro Villagra  Photo of Postdoc Researcher Satish Noonepalle

Assistant Professor Alejandro Villagra and Postdoctoral Researcher Satish Noonepalle

Therapy for cancer treatment

Assistant Professor Alejandro Villagra and Postdoctoral Researcher Satish Noonepalle of the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences will be putting the award towards developing a novel cell therapy for solid tumors.

Macrophage cells pretreated with histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) inhibitor maintain their anti-tumor function following injection into tumors. Anti-tumor macrophages release cytokines that stimulate the immune system and help other immune cells target tumor cells. Past attempts at macrophage cell therapies have failed, likely because even though anti-tumor macrophages were injected, they were transformed into pro-tumor macrophages by signals in the tumor micro-environment. Pro-tumor macrophages release cytokines that suppress the immune system and are associated with tumor invasion, metastasis and poor prognosis. The HDAC6 inhibitor pretreated macrophages demonstrate strong in vivo effectiveness against mouse melanoma tumors. This award will enable the inventors to validate that the cells are also effective against human tumors.

 

Photo of Associate Professor Wenge Zhu

Associate Professor Wenge Zhu

Therapy for Drug-Resistant Ovarian Cancer

Associate Professor Wenge Zhu of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine and the George Washington University (GW) Cancer Center will further develop a novel small molecule drugs to help treat drug-resistant ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancers often develop resistance to platinum drug chemotherapies, which is why the survival rate of ovarian cancer patients is so low. Ovarian cancer is the second most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the U.S.

Dr. Zhu’s past research identified the cell signaling pathway involved in establishing platinum drug resistance. Then he proved that known drugs that inhibit this pathway could help re-sensitize cancer cells to platinum drugs. Now he has found new compounds to target this pathway. The hope is that the new highly potent protease inhibitors will act synergistically with platinum drugs to halt ovarian cancer.

While Dr. Zhu has demonstrated effectiveness of the new drug in cell cultures, this award will enable animal studies. Animal studies are critical to evaluate how well the drug works and how safe it is. They are also critical to attract interest from potential licensees that would take the treatment through clinical trials to one day reach patients in need.