Two faculty members were named inaugural faculty fellows in entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. Vijay Ramani, the Roma B. and Raymond H. Witcoff Distinguished University Professor of Environment and Energy, is the faculty fellow on the Danforth Campus, and Jennifer Silva, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, will serve as the faculty fellow on the Medical Campus.
The fellows will provide support and guidance to Washington University faculty interested in entrepreneurship and creating startup companies. The university encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, and Ramani and Silva will advise faculty members who are uncertain about how to navigate the university’s policies and requirements related to startups.
Ramani is an expert in electrochemical energy conversion and storage and renewable energy integration. His research interests lie at the confluence of electrochemical engineering, materials science and renewable and sustainable energy technologies.
His research includes creating a new membrane that can be used in batteries for grid-scale electric energy storage, funded by a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy. He also is working to create a stable, bipolar membrane for fuel-cell propulsion systems that would enable the U.S. Navy’s unmanned undersea vehicles to fulfill challenging mission requirements, funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research. Last fall, he received an award from the university’s Leadership in Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program (LEAP Inventor Challenge), which helps to move intellectual property toward commercialization.
Ramani joined the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science in 2016 from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is director of the university’s Center for Solar Energy and Energy Storage. He has experience with the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, as well as with the SBIR platforms of the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Defense both as a principal investigator, reviewer and evaluator.
Silva, a pediatric cardiologist at the School of Medicine, treats patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of children with irregular heartbeats. Such heart rhythms are caused by disruptions in the heart’s electrical circuitry and can be life-threatening. Silva also co-founded a startup company, SentiAR Inc., aimed at commercializing a novel augmented-reality platform to improve minimally invasive transcatheter ablation procedures used to correct irregular heart rhythms.
Silva and her team are previous Bear Cub (now LEAP) awardees and recently received an SBIR Fast-track award. She also has collaborated with numerous industry partners, including Abbott and Microsoft and has served on SBIR/STTR review panels for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2017.
Silva joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2009, after completing a residency in pediatric cardiology at Miami Children’s Hospital and two fellowships, one in pediatric cardiology at the School of Medicine and another in pediatric electrophysiology at Children’s Hospital Boston. She also is director of pediatric electrophysiology at the School of Medicine.