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Polsky Center Fall 2021 I-Corps Teams Tackle Unmet Medical Needs, Data Transparency, and Other Challenges

The I-Corps teams seen here at the fall Collaboratorium, which brings together Chicago Booth students with researchers and faculty who are exploring commercialization opportunities for their work. (Image credit: eClarke Photo)

The Polsky Center’s fall 2021 I-Corps cohort is developing diagnostics, novel therapeutics, innovative devices, new materials, and other technologies across various industries.

The Polsky I-Corps program is a 7-week highly-experiential program designed to empower UChicago scientists, researchers, and students to test the commercial potential of their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) research and ideas.

Teams receive a $2,500 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for their participation and are expected to dedicate an average of 4-7 hours per week to classroom sessions, homework assignments, and interviewing industry experts and potential customers.

“I-Corps provides a unique opportunity to bring together incredibly talented faculty members, researchers, staff, and students from across campus,” said Ellen Zatkowski, who leads the Polsky I-Corps program. “One of the highlights of this fall’s cohort was being able to gather in person again by offering the program in a dual modality format. It was exciting to see the cohort learn from their shared experiences with customer discovery as well as exploring ways to collaborate even after I-Corps.”

The Polsky I-Corps Fall 2021 cohort includes:

  • Gateway Biome // Gateway Biome is building a comprehensive diagnostic tool for the microbiome that not only describes the health condition of the microbiome, but also identifies certain disease states with specificity.
    • Team members: Eugene Chang (Principal Investigator), Martin Boyer Professor of Medicine, UChicago Biological Sciences Division (BSD); Candace Cham, research associate, BSD; Ryan Chang, Unaffiliated with UChicago; Orlando DeLeon, post-doc, BSD; Na Fei, post-doc, BSD; Shunya Hiroshima, student, Chicago Booth; Jason Koval, research technician, BSD; Scott McKeon, student, Chicago Booth; Joseph Pierre, alumnus, BSD; Ashley Sidebottom, post-doc, BSD; Wesley Suen, student, UChicago College
  • Hubbell Lab Anti-Fibrotics // The team has developed novel anti-fibrotics that target a cell key to scar tissue and can reverse fibrosis in mouse models.
    • Team members: Jeffrey Hubbell (Principal Investigator), Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME); Erica Budina, student, PME; Melis Ozkan, alumnus, UChicago College; Michael White, post-doc, BSD
  • Inclusive+ // Inclusive+’s goal is to create a digital patient-centered medical home with pharmacy services for the LGBTQIA+ community. They aim to provide comprehensive care through a patient centered medical home with pharmacy services that assist patients in overcoming insurance barriers.
    • Team members: Monika Lach, manager, specialty pharmacy and ambulatory infusion, BSD; Dahlia Sultan, clinical manager, ambulatory pharmacy, BSD; Anna Jacobs, student, Chicago Booth; Anh Nguyen, student, Chicago Booth
  • INOFA // As there are no efficient treatments that have shown to be effective in restoring ovarian function in women with primary ovarian insufficiency, the team intends to treat ovarian dysfunction using mesenchymal stem cell therapy.
    • Team members: Ayman Al-Hendy (Principal Investigator), professor of obstetrics and gynecology, BSD; Hiba Alkelani, staff researcher, BSD; Farzana Liakath, post-doc, BSD; Mohammad Mousaei Ghasroldasht, post-doc, BSD; Hang-soo Park, post-doc, BSD; Jin Seok, staff scientist, BSD
  • Open Data Platform // The team is developing a novel, easy-to-use open data platform that can quickly reproduce scientific work and promote datasets with a high impact in society, particularly by journalists who seek transparency in the usage of data in their work.
  • Team members: Daniel Grzenda, staff data scientist, UChicago Physical Sciences Division (PSD); Guilherme Martins, senior programming specialist, PSD; Krishna Satti, student, Chicago Booth
  • Personal Tumor Models // Personal Tumor Models’ technology enables a person to order an accurate 3D printed model of their own cancer tumor. Doctors may also use this tool to communicate the disease and treatment options within a framework of personalized medicine.
    • Team members: Daniel Fabrycky (Principal Investigator), associate professor, PSD; Jason Poh, student, PSD
  • Riptide Therapeutics // Targeted therapeutics along with combination therapies are the new standard in cancer treatment. The team is developing a new molecule that potently targets and treats cancer cells by combining it with radiation therapy.
    • Team members: Stephen Kron (Principal Investigator), professor, BSD; Karl Scheidt (Principal Investigator), professor, Northwestern University; Grant Frost, post-doc, Northwestern University; James Jung, student, Chicago Booth
  • Si-light // Si-light has designed a set of biological modulation methods based on the light interaction with semiconductor materials and devices, which can implement multiplexed and patterned stimulations. These devices can be used for neuromodulation and cardiac pacing.
    • Team members: Bozhi Tian (Principal Investigator), professor, PSD; Aleksander Prominski, student, PSD; Emily Chen, student, Chicago Booth; Katherine Leahy, student, UChicago College
  • SoundFlow // The team is developing an on-chip optofluidic device that combines surface acoustic waves and fluid flow to manipulate liquid crystals and modulate the optical response of the liquid crystal to enhance precision and control. Potential fields of application for this technology include liquid crystal displays, sensors, and smart surfaces.
    • Team members: Juan de Pablo (Principal Investigator), Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering and Vice President for National Laboratories, Science Strategy, Innovation and Global Initiatives, PME; Gustavo Andres Vasquez Montoya, student, PME; Tadej Emersic, post-doc, PMD; Daniel Nussbaum, student, Chicago Booth
  • Sustainable Wickable Plastics // The team’s technology creates a new material that is capable of wicking water while maintaining mechanical strength opening new possibilities in medical devices, athletic wear, and other water management applications.
    • Team members: Matthew Tirrell (Principal Investigator), Dean, PME; Stuart Rowan (PI), Barry L. MacLean Professor for Molecular Engineering Innovation and Enterprise, PME; Harrison Paul, student, PME; Andrew Zeller, Student, Chicago Law; Katherine Chen, Student, UChicago College

For more information about the Polsky I-Corps program, contact Ellen Zatkowski.                                               

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