Drug Delivery, Diagnostics, AI Applications Among 10 Projects in the Spring 2021 I-Corps Cohort

The I-Corps program is specifically designed for participants working on projects related to the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. (Image credit: iStock.com/ismagilov)

Ten teams are participating in the spring 2021 cohort of the Polsky I-Corps program – a highly experiential, 7-week-long program to empower scientists, researchers, and students to test the commercial potential of their research and ideas.

Open to other Chicago-area institutions, this year’s spring cohort includes participants from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, among other universities, in addition to teams from across the University of Chicago, including the Biological Sciences Division (BSD), Physical Sciences Division (PSD), and Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME).

The ten teams will receive a $2,500 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, which can lead to further opportunities for training and funding through the NSF’s national I-Corps program, Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR), and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

The spring 2021 Cohort includes:

  • Acapala // Acapala transforms the research paper reading experience through an AI-powered, one-stop, integrated web-based reader that offers accurate bullet-point summaries, knowledge graphs, jargon definitions, and reading recommendations.
    • (Team members: Tianle Liu, student, University of Chicago; Jinyi Ye, student, Communication University of China; Junhong Shen, student, University of California at Los Angeles)
  • Concilio // Concilio has developed a nanoparticle platform that effectively delivers therapeutic nucleotides to cells of interest to more effectively treat cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.
    • (Team members: Yun Fang, associate professor, University of Chicago BSD; Jeffrey Hubbell, Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering and Vice Dean and Executive Officer, University of Chicago PME; Matthew Tirrell, Dean of the University of Chicago PME, the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor; Patricia Tsao, unaffiliated; Ponmile Oloyede, student, Chicago Booth)
  • FLOW Medical // FLOW Medical is developing a multi-function catheter for diagnosis and treatment of venous thromboembolic disease, enabling more effective pressure measurement, diagnostic contrast agent delivery, and prolonged infusion of medications.
    • (Team members: Jonathan Paul, associate professor of medicine, University of Chicago BSD; Osmanuddin Ahmed, assistant professor of radiology, University of Chicago BSD; Chloe Fu, student, Chicago Booth; Spencer Coffin, student, Chicago Booth)
  • OrisDx // OrisDx has devised a molecular biomarker next-generation sequencing-based test to screen, diagnosis, monitor, and treat oral cavity cancers with a low-cost, rapid, and accurate method.
    • (Team members: Nishant Agrawal, professor of surgery, University of Chicago BSD; Evgeny Izumchenko, assistant professor of medicine, University of Chicago BSD; Rifat Hasina, research professional, University of Chicago BSD; Jake Stangl, student, Chicago Booth)
  • Partum Health // Partum Health provides families with evidence-backed plans for care and support from providers that complements obstetrics and pediatrics through an interdisciplinary model and platform.
    • (Team members: Meghan Doyle, unaffiliated; Matt Rogers, unaffiliated; Rishi Shah, student, Chicago Booth; Chelsea Troy, lecturer, University of Chicago PSD)
  • Promontory Biotech // Promontory Biotech has identified first-in-class molecules to modulate nutrient transport in the gastrointestinal tract and treat intestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
    • (Team members: Chris Weber, associate professor of pathology, University of Chicago BSD; Le Shen, research associate professor, University of Chicago BSD; Fatemeh Khalili, associate professor, University of Illinois at Chicago; Becca Butler, student, University of Chicago Social Sciences Division; Hollis Rhone, student, McGill University; Emma Wu, unaffiliated)
  • ReZilient Power // ReZilient Power is developing a low-cost, long-duration energy storage solution that smooths volatility in renewable electricity generation and provides resilience against severe weather events or disasters.
    • (Team members: Nigel Becknell, Argonne Scholar, Argonne National Laboratory; Sanja Tepavcevic, assistant scientist, Argonne National Laboratory; Pietro Papa Lopes, assistant scientist, Argonne National Laboratory; Andrew Seto, student, University of Chicago)
  • SynthBits // SynthBits develops molecular spin qubits with an integrated photonic interface technology, allowing for remote measurements of highly localized effects with a wide range of potential applications in healthcare.
    • (Team members: Berk Kovos, student, University of Chicago PME; Leah Weiss, post-doc, PME; Ben Rachman, student, Chicago Booth; Daniel Laorenza, student, Northwestern University)
  • TrueToForm // TrueToForm is developing a highly accurate 3D body scanning platform that generates custom avatars, enabling fashion designers and brands to design for their clients and fit models without the need for in-person fittings.
    • (Team members: Janice Tam, student, Chicago Booth; Margaret Tam, unaffiliated)
  • VectorDB // VectorDB is building the next generation of data engines tailored for analytics over multidimensional (vector) data, which is becoming a core piece of infrastructure in modern artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Internet of Things applications.
    • (Team members: John Paparrizos, post-doc, University of Chicago Department of Computer Science, PSD; Aaron Elmore, assistant professor, University of Chicago Department of Computer Science, PSD; Michael Franklin, Liew Family Chair of Computer Science, Senior Advisor to Provost on Computation and Data Science, Chairman, Department of Computer Science; Lara Liu, student, Chicago Booth)

All teams receive instruction and entrepreneurial education delivered by world-class faculty and staff from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business in addition to individualized mentorship and coaching, access to resources, and training from the Polsky Center. No previous experience in business or entrepreneurship is required in order to be accepted into the program.

// For more information, contact Ellen Zatkowski.

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