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Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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CAS Profs Make Impact with Technology Transfer Funding

April 16th, 2013

Some people think that commercialization – technology transfer – is something only engineers do. But a number of CAS professors have recently received funding from the BU Office of Technology Development (OTD) for important work they are doing in the form of Ignition Awards.

BU has several “gap funding” programs managed by OTD, in particular the Ignition Awards. Gap funding allows BU research to advance towards commercialization by leveraging government-sponsored basic research funding. Learn about a range of OTD sources of technology research funding.

The 2013 $50,000 Life Science Ignition Awardees were Professor of Biology Ulla Hansen, Chair of Biochemistry David Harris, Avrum Spira and Marc Lenburg, and Kenneth Walsh. All winners demonstrated potential for developing small and large molecule therapeutics in multiple therapeutic areas. The 2013 $50,000 High Tech Ignition Awardees were Professor of Computer Science Assaf Kfoury, Douglas Densmore, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ramesh Jasti, for developing commercial applications in Information Technology, Healthcare IT, and chemistry, respectively.

Ulla Hansen, Professor of Biology, is developing small molecule LSF inhibitors for the treatment of liver cancer. The objective of this proposal was to demonstrate growth arrest of primary liver tumors within an animal model, without toxic side effects. As part of their Ignition proposal, the team will generate systematic toxicology studies of the compounds in rodents, pharmacokinetic (PK) analyses of more soluble compound derivatives, and delineation of key features of the LSF biological pathway in liver cancer cells. Pharmaceutical companies have expressed interest in the small molecules.

Ramesh Jasti, Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department, has developed a novel method to synthesize cycloparaphenylenes (CPPs), which are nanostructures made of carbon. Porous carbon nanotubes have shown great promise as energy storage materials for high performance batteries and as ultracapacitors. In his research, Dr. Jasti has developed the synthesis of the smallest possible slice of a carbon nanotube – termed “carbon nanohoops.” These structures can be prepared with specific diameters and uniformity in high yield and low cost. Interesting, the 6-CPPs self-assemble in the solid-state into nanotubular materials. This renders them ideal candidates for carbon-based energy storage materials. Carbon nanohoops have wide ranging applications, including hydrogen storage, CO2 sequestration, light emitting diodes, and nanofiltration. In this proposal, the investigators will develop a “flow” system for the continuous chemical synthesis of cycloparaphenylenes nanohoops. In addition, they propose to explore the effects that hoop diameter and crystallinity have on charge capacitance, discharge rate, and energy storage.

Assaf Kfoury, Professor in the Computer Science Department, recently supervised the creation of PhD student Mark Reynold’s Software Inspection and Certification Service (SICS). The invention was part of Mark’s doctoral dissertation and he is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Computer Science. SICS is an entirely novel method for discovering malware in software applications and web pages. Malicious software on the Internet continues to be a pervasive and vexing problem. Among the most serious type of threats are the so-called “zero-day” exploits, so named because they have never been seen before. Antivirus (AV) and Intrusion Preventions Systems (IPS) do a very good job at recognizing known threats, but they do significantly worse when confronted with malware based on a zero-day. Zero-day exploits can hide for months or even years before they are detected, and account for billions of dollars in damage each year. The SICS method is a completely new approach to address the threat of zero-day exploits. SICS has been demonstrated to do extremely well at detecting zero-days, to have a zero positive rate, and a false negative rate that can be tuned to be as small as desired. Funding from this grant will be used to extend the existing SICS implement (Java and Flash) to the Android platform, as well as building out the necessary infrastructure to support the service.

BU has a history of being an innovator in research commercialization. The Community Technology Fund established in 1975 was the first university venture fund. It invested in over 175 companies prior to its closing in 2005. Some of CTF’s investments include A123 Battery, Ensemble Therapeutics, Outstart, and Crossbeam. The uninvested portion of CTF was placed into BU’s endowment and provides about $750K annually for gap funding.

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