Four Innovators Awarded $600,000 from University City Science Center

They range from gene and cell therapies to improvements in physical therapy.

The University City Science Center.

The University City Science Center.

Four researchers are sharing the hefty prize of $600,000.

It’s all part of the QED Proof-of-Concept Program from the University City Science Center that unites collegiate research from the Greater Philadelphia area with expertise that can bridge the gap between academic research and product commercialization.

Half of their $600,000 winnings are funded by the Science Center, while the researchers’ academic institutions contribute the other halves. Winners were chosen from a pool of 62 applicants from 12 universities throughout the region.

The winners included:

Amy Cowperthwait, University of Delaware

The qualified nurse is tackling deficiencies in mannequin simulation by developing a new method for approaching airway management in emergency situations.

Judith Deutsch, Rutgers University

The professor of rehabilitation and movement science produced an affordable physical therapy technology that tracks movement and heart rate in older adults and people with neurological and musculoskeletal conditions. The automation provides balance, mobility, coordination and fitness training for rehabilitation patients.

Melik Demirel, Penn State

The physician has made gene analysis possible from minuscule amounts of biological samples, like blood, by coating the surface of biomedical swabs with proteins, enhancing the capture of DNA from a sample.

KiBum Lee, Rutgers University

The associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology has revolutionized the traditional method of using viruses to modify a cell’s gene. In his approach towards stem-cell therapy, human patient-derived steam cells are used in people suffering from incurable and incapacitating conditions.

“The QED program excels at finding innovative, commercially relevant solutions for pressing problems in healthcare and life sciences,” said Stephen Tang, president & CEO of the Science Center in a statement. “Our latest round looked for innovative approaches to collaboration as it emphasized partnerships between two groups that don’t typically work together: medical professionals and engineers. Putting together these groups’ different skill sets and perspectives, as exemplified by Amy Cowperthwait’s and Judith Deutsch’s projects, creates another path to improving patient care. You can expect to see more of these special emphasis areas in the future.”

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