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The Science Center Awards $600,000 to Three Academic Research Projects

PHILADELPHIA – (January 18, 2022) – The University City Science Center has announced three awardees in the latest round of its QED Proof-of-Concept Program, which collaborates with regional academic and research institutions to help accelerate and bring to market the most promising life science and medical device and diagnostic technologies.

The awarded projects are in development by researchers representing Fox Chase Cancer Center, Princeton University, and Temple University, and were recommended to receive funding by a team of investors and industry experts who reviewed each project’s Proof-of-Concept plan and investor-style presentation. These projects have high potential to dramatically improve the standard of care in life sciences over existing technologies in the market.

"These latest awardees represent some of our region’s most promising research with commercial potential and we’re proud to partner with these institutions to usher these projects in the early phases of the commercialization process,” says Heath Naquin, Vice President of Government & Capital Engagement at the University City Science Center.

Each researcher will receive $200,000, half of which will be contributed by the Science Center and half by the researchers’ institutions. Under the Science Center’s QED program, awardees receive access to an experienced team of business advisors, exposure to investors and industry representatives, and access to regulatory and legal specialists to advance their technologies toward the next stage of commercial development.

QED Program Awarded Researchers and Projects:

John Karanicolas, Fox Chase Cancer Center

Designing tumor-localized activation into therapeutic antibodies.
This antibody/small-molecule mixture solves the problem of “on-target off-tumor” toxicity that plagues many therapeutic antibodies. This product will restrict antibody activity to the tumor site, reducing immune-related adverse events, which in turn will make therapeutic antibodies a viable option for a much broader patient pool.

Maksim Mezhericher and Howard Stone, Princeton University

System for rapid room-temperature dehydration of vaccines and biopharmaceutical formulations using ultra-fine droplet aerosols.
This new scalable system enables thermal stabilization of biological drugs by converting them into dry form at room temperature, and eliminates the need for expensive, time and resource consuming “cold chain” logistics. The system will also enhance manufacturer capabilities to produce drugs for various routes of administration, as well as will reduce costs in the supply chain by providing savings in storage space and refrigeration equipment and will enable more reliable and higher capacity transportation and longer shelf life of drugs.

These latest awardees represent some of our region’s most promising research with commercial potential and we’re proud to partner with these institutions to usher these projects in the early phases of the commercialization process.

Heath Naquin, Vice President of Government & Capital Engagement at the University City Science Center

Rouzbeh Tehrani, Temple University

Nano-enhanced hemodialysis for personalized treatments.
Adsorptive nanomaterials in both dialysate and dialyzer will overcome limitations of current hemodialysis treatments, by selectively removing toxins, shortening treatment duration, minimizing dialysate consumption, and allow for a personalized treatment regimen to best serve each patient’s needs.

The projects from Fox Chase Cancer Center and Princeton University are first-time awardees of the program.

In addition to the three funded projects, eight other early-stage projects received critical support in developing their proof-of-concept plans: Hong Wang of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, Arun Sharma of the Pennsylvania State University, Mohammad Tofighi of Pennsylvania State University, Nidhal Carla Bouaynaya of Rowan University, KiBum Lee of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Hai-Lung Dai and Michael Wilhelm of Temple University, Pavan Atluri of the University of Pennsylvania, and Geelsu Hwang of the University of Pennsylvania.

Each of these technologies was identified as having high potential for improving human health and attracting industry and investor interest. The awardees for this round of the QED Program were selected from a pool of applicants from institutions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Since its inception in 2009, the QED Program has provided business development support for over 160 academic research projects, with over $8.65M invested in 44 projects. Fifteen startups or licensing deals have resulted.

About the Science Center

The University City Science Center is Philadelphia’s premier catalyst of entrepreneurial activity, healthcare innovation, and economic growth. Established in 1963, the nonprofit has been recognized by The Brookings Institution as a best-in-class investor, mentor, and economic development partner for young technology companies. Working alongside industry partners and leading research and academic institutions across the globe, the Science Center has supported over 1,000 early-stage companies. Today, the organization advances healthcare innovation from idea to the marketplace through startup support services, allocating capital, gathering the innovation community, and building inclusive STEM pathways for Philadelphia youth and adults. For more information visit or follow us at @UCScienceCenter.

About the QED Proof-of-Concept Program
The QED Program provides funding and business development support for academic researchers developing early-stage life science and healthcare technologies with high commercial potential. A common participation agreement that defines matching funds, indirect costs, and intellectual property management, has been signed by 22 universities and research institutions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Delaware State University, Drexel University, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, Lehigh University, Monell Chemical Senses Center, Moravian College, New Jersey Institute of Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Princeton University, Rowan University, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania, University of the Sciences, Widener University, and The Wistar Institute.

The QED Program is supported by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health, and has also received support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, Wexford Science and Technology, and the William Penn Foundation.

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Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing