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University City Science Center awards $600K to researchers targeting cancer, blood disorders

The University City Science Center has awarded a total of $600,000 to three area researchers in the latest round of its QED Proof-of-Concept Program.

The 11-year-old program, created in a partnership with 21 Philadelphia-area academic and research institutions, is designed to support promising life science technologies for potential commercialization. In addition to funding, the researchers also get to work with a network of experienced business advisors and industry experts who will help them position their technologies for a licensing agreement or a potential startup company.

This year's awards of $200,000 each went to researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania.

The researchers selected for the program were:

  • Dr. Ian Henrich, a researcher in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Henrich is developing an agent, called USP6, designed to jumpstart a patient's immune system against cancer cells. His team’s first target for proof of concept is acute myeloid leukemia.
  • Dr. Emily Day, a researcher in the biomedical engineering department at the University of Delaware. Day is working with nanoparticles that can target delivery of "cargo" of small molecules that turn off specific genes to blood stem cells. The technology has the potential to transform the treatment of benign and malignant blood disorders including HIV, cancer, aplastic anemia and sickle cell disease.
  • Dr. Haim H. Bau, a researcher in the department of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. Bau invented an improved method for enriching targeted nucleic acid in body fluid samples to potentially provide a better way to diagnose and detect cancer in liquid biopsies.

The trio was selected from a field of 45 applicants at eight institutions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Since its inception in 2009, the QED program has provided development services for more than 100 academic researchers, with more than $8 million invested in 41 projects. The program has produced 18 startups or licensing deals.

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