Why University City Science Center is betting big on these 3 health projects

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The University City Science Center announced a total of $600,000 in grants.

Three promising technologies that seek to improve the efficacy of medical care earned a big boost from the University City Science Center on Monday, with a total of $600,000 in research grants announced through the center’s QED Proof of Concept Program.

Preoperative planning and alignment of long-bone fractures may be improved, and then surgeries go faster through the use of Robossis, a robotic surgery device invented, and trademarked, by Mohammad Abedin-Nasab, a Rowan University assistant professor of biomedical engineering.

Radiation techniques attacking tumors could hit home better thanks to the gold nanoparticle technology being developed by David Cormode, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania. The finite, biodegradable particles enhance radiation absorption, improving therapeutic effects.

Already-astonishing neonatal (in-the-womb) treatments of infants could get another boost with the noninvasive assisted-breathing device being finessed by Charles Palmer, professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine. The technology utilizes negative pressure to prevent collapse of the chest wall in preterm infants suffering respiratory distress.   

Selected from a pool of 64 applicants at 15 academic and research institutions in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, each winning QED team receives $200,000, half contributed by the Science Center and half by the researchers’ institution. Projects, likewise, earn guidance from the Business Advisors group at the Science Center.

Now in its ninth year, “the QED program continues to highlight the treasure trove of technologies at our region’s universities,” said Science Center president and CEO Stephen Tang.

To date, this proof of concept enabler has screened 539 proposals (primarily in the therapeutic/biologic, device/diagnostic, and digital health sectors) from 21 academic and research institutions. A total of $5.45 million has been awarded to 31 projects. Of these, eight technologies have been licensed and five have emerged as start-up companies. A 2016 impact study by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia found that QED winners also have raised more than $19 million in follow-on funding.

“The quality of proposals and teams coming through the QED is a testament to the robust research coming out of greater Philadelphia’s academic institutions,” echoed QED Selection Team member Jeannie Rojas, portfolio leader at Johnson & Johnson. 

QED is an abbreviation of the Latin words quod erat demonstrandum, which loosely translated means “that which was to be demonstrated.” The term is usually placed at the end of a mathematical proof to indicate that the proof is complete.