Four VCU projects funded through statewide partnership

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Through a statewide network designed to accelerate innovation and economic growth, Virginia Commonwealth University received funding for four research projects.

The Virginia Innovation Partnership, created in 2012 as part of the United States Department of Commerce’s i6 Challenge, provides proof-of-concept funding to advance early-stage research and connects academic researchers with mentors, corporations and investors to accelerate commercialization of the new discoveries.  

Researchers from academic institutions across Virginia submitted proposals for funding. An external advisory group with government, corporate, research, community and venture capital experience selected 27 projects for oral presentations, with 18 of those ultimately selected for funding. VCU received a total of $180,000 for its four funded research projects.

The VCU awardees:

*  “NLRP3 Inflammasome Inhibitors in Experimental Acute Mayocardial Infarction,” submitted by Benjamin Van Tassell, Pharm.D., assistant professor in the VCU School of Pharmacy, was awarded $60,000.

*  “Development of a Novel Chimeric Vaccine for Tick-Transmitted Disease,” submitted by Richard Marconi, Ph.D., professor in VCU Molecular Biology and Genetics, part of the School of Medicine, and Jason Carlyon, Ph.D., associate professor and a George and Lavinia Blick Scholar in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, was awarded $40,000.

*  “Development of Novel Agents to Treat Opioid-Induced Constipation,” submitted by Yan Zhang, Ph.D., associate professor in the VCU School of Pharmacy, was awarded $40,000.

*  “3D VCH Color Model,” submitted by Robert Meganck, chair of communication arts and professor of illustration, graphic design and digital imaging, in the VCU School of the Arts, was awarded $40,000.

“This proof-of-concept funding is crucial for maturing university technologies and making them more attractive to industry partners and investors,” said Ivelina Metcheva, Ph.D., executive director of VCU Innovation Gateway. “We worked diligently with the VCU researchers to prepare and present winning applications. As a result, four out of the five VCU presented technologies were granted funding.”

The awards mark the Virginia Innovation Partnership’s second round of funding. The partnership is supported by $1 million in federal funding over two years as part of the i6 Challenge, with additional matching funds provided by corporate participants, university partners and other entities. The partnership includes all research universities in Virginia with overall research activities of more than $1.5 billion annually; the state’s community colleges; 10 commercialization incubators; and multiple corporate and government agency partners.


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