Bear Cub grants awarded to faculty members

The Washington University Bear Cub Fund has awarded its second round of grants to support faculty members who want to move their ideas from the research laboratory to the commercial sector.

The grant recipients are Narasimhan Gautam, Ph.D., associate professor of anesthesiology in the School of Medicine; John W. Lockwood, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science in the School of Engineering & Applied Science; and Rosanne S. Naunheim, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Emergency Medicine.

Theodore J. Cicero, Ph.D., vice chancellor for research, recently announced the awards.

Bear Cub Fund grant awards range from $20,000-$50,000. Cicero and Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton created the Bear Cub Fund to support faculty in applied research studies that would not normally be supported by federal grants.

The fund supports investigators in short-term research projects as they work to make promising technologies more attractive for licensing to commercial investors.

“Washington University must play a pivotal role in the generation of knowledge that gets commercialized in this region,” Cicero said. “Before venture capitalists will fund a new idea, investigators need to provide some proof of concept, some recognizable foundation upon which a company might be built.

“The Bear Cub Fund was conceived to allow investigators to conduct those essential research studies.”

Gautam is addressing the growing complexity — and promise — in the field of drug discovery. He is using fluorescence-based biosensors to measure G-protein coupled receptor activity, a technology that could play a role in the design of more effective drugs.

Lockwood uses reconfigurable computer hardware to analyze data traveling over the Internet without slowing information flow. The work may enhance security and protection of intellectual property.

Naunheim is studying encapsulated microspheres that can help measure the forces causing head trauma. There is growing concern about head injuries in soccer, football and other contact sports.

Her Bear Cub grant will fund production and testing of microspheres that could be placed in sports or military helmets to help medical personnel determine the severity of head injuries.

The Bear Cub Fund, launched in November 2002, is administered through the University’s research office. The fund is made up of endowment income and capital from private sources.

A selection committee of senior faculty and members of the business and technology investment community reviews grant applications.

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