Technology Development is pleased to announce the winners for the 9th annual Ignition Awards. The Ignition Program includes two separate awards— approximately five $75,000 one-year grants and one $25,000 Robert E. Schiesske Award — to faculty of Boston University and Boston Medical Center to validate early-stage technologies and enable follow-on funding. The Ignition Award Program was initiated to help bridge the gap between government-funded, basic research and product development activities undertaken by commercial or non-profit entities, and proposals must demonstrate commercial, medical, and/or societal impact.

This year’s winners are:

Team Leader: Steven C. Borkan, MD
Title: Novel Phospho-Proteomics Approach to Improve Acute Kidney Injury Diagnostics
This technology will enable early detection of ischemic acute kidney injury and guide its effective treatment. Detecting and treating the pathways involved in renal cell death may have broader implications for other organs that are also susceptible to ischemic injury.

Team Leader: David Bishop
Title: High Performance, Continuously Tunable Microwave Filters
This project seeks to develop an enabling filter technology that will advance the capabilities of software defined radios (SDRs). These radios, which have a high dynamic range and are programmable, are the radio equivalent of the microprocessor, a general-purpose platform where the specific functionality is determined in software, not hardware.  A major roadblock impeding large scale application of SDRs is the lack of a high performance, tunable filter technology. If successful, the proposed MEMS filter technology will make SDRs more general purpose, programmable radios.

Team Leader: Mark W. Grinstaff
Title: A Novel Treatment for Stiff Joints
Currently, there is no treatment for arthrofibrosis of the joint, which is the underlying disease that causes stiff knees and shoulders. This proposed novel technology promises to create a sustained delivery mechanism using a naturally occurring protein which increases the range of motion.

Team Leader: Wilson Wong and John Ngo
Title: Engineering an inducible chimeric antigen receptor with an FDA approved drug as the inducer
New cancer treatments that seek to leverage the human immune system’s response to cancer — a field called immuno-oncology — use T cells tuned by chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs, to combat malignancies in the body. In a sense, CARs “flip a switch” in the T cells that activates their ability to attack cancer. The problem? There’s no way to turn these CARs on or off, which can be fatal. If successful, this research will develop a controllable CAR system that is regulated by the use of an FDA-approved, low-toxicity drug.

Team Leader: Ji Yi
Title: Novel volumetric fluorescein angiography in human retina by oblique laser scanning ophthalmoscopy
In diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, vision problems are caused by leaking blood vessels in the eye. Treatment is available, but its success is largely determined by how early the disease is detected. If Yi’s research is successful, it will develop an improved diagnostic technique that can provide high resolution, 3-D imaging of the blood vessels in the retina, enabling doctors to see leakage at small blood vessels down to individual capillaries—a level of detail that is currently unattainable by state-of-the-art technology.

Team Leaders: Xin Zhang and Stephan Anderson
Title: Engineering materials toward imaging enhancement and clinical applications
This research is focused on engineering materials for imaging enhancement of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. Previous attempts to improve MRI have pitted image quality against speed, and have come with trade-offs in cost and safety. The objective of the research is to design and optimize materials, translating the technique from laboratory demonstration to commercialization and clinical applications. If successful, this research will greatly improve the throughput time of already overtaxed hospital imaging systems through the development of a methodology that promises to provide a clearer image in less time.


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