Bear Cub Challenge awardees announced

The Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship has awarded Bear Cub grants to two Washington University researchers as part of the summer 2015 award cycle. The award recipients are David T. Curiel, MD, PhD, and Nancy Tye-Murray, PhD.

Curiel is the director of the Division of Cancer Biology and of the Biologic Therapeutic Center. His award-winning project involves using viral vector technology to optimize the immune system’s response to vaccines.

Tye-Murray is a professor of otolaryngology and of audiology and communication sciences. Her award-winning project involves an auditory training system for people with hearing loss. The system is designed to enhance people’s abilities to recognize the speech of people with whom they regularly converse.

The university’s Bear Cub grant program helps researchers make the leap from bench scientists to budding entrepreneurs. The program funds promising translational research – not normally backed by federal grants – that is critical to demonstrating a technology’s commercial potential.


The summer cycle is the second in the new Bear Cub model, which this year moved from a yearly call for applications to once every four months. The next cycle of the Bear Cub Challenge will take place in late February/early March of 2016, with educational and training sessions now underway. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact the Skandalaris Center for further information.

“We are excited by the increasing demand for translational research and the opportunities this presents to all our faculty and students across disciplines to work together with the goal of increasing commercialization of Washington University research,” said Emre Toker, managing director of the Skandalaris Center. “This semester we offered an ‘Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship’ workshop series on the Medical Campus and continue to work with our medical school colleagues to engage and train faculty with the goal of launching more Washington University ventures.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The two projects were chosen following a rigorous four-month selection process. Fifteen independent judges, representing venture capital firms, angel investors, private equity and domain experts, ranked each applicant after considering the risks versus the rewards of each project.

More chances to apply for Bear Cub grants

The Bear Cub Challenge has moved from a yearly cycle to three times a year — once every four months. Finals for the next cycle will take place in April 2016, with educational and training sessions beginning in January. For more information, contact Emre Toker, managing director of the Skandalaris Center, at

The Bear Cub program will provide up to $85,000 to the two projects as teams work toward their goals of commercial licensing and developing products that will attract investors.

Additionally, other finalists will be provided with cash and in-kind services, such as help applying for small business grants and developing business plans.

In addition to the Skandalaris Center, the Center for Research Innovation in Business, the Office of Technology Management, and the BioGenerator provide support to the teams.

Bear Cub projects also are supported by the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS) and Washington University’s International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability.

The ICTS is an institute with programs aimed at driving research findings from the initial discovery phase into their application through new diagnostics, therapeutics and prevention strategies to improve human health.

The ICTS is a member of the national Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) consortium and supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The CTSA program is led by the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

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