George Shultz Innovation Fund Finals

George Shultz Innovation Fund Finals

Agenda

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.: Registration

9:30 – 9:45 a.m.: Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • Samir Mayekar, Associate Vice President and Managing Director, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Ellen Zatkowski, Senior Associate Director, Science Programs and Student Engagement, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

9:45 – 11:00 a.m.: Finalist Startup Pitches and Q&A from the GSIF Advisory Committee

  • 9:45 – 10:10 a.m.: Claudyn Biotech, Inc.
  • 10:10 – 10:35 a.m.: NanoAffix Science LLC
  • 10:35 – 11:00 a.m.: PAC Dynamic

Team Descriptions

// Claudyn Biotech is developing a novel class of drugs to block claudin channels, which can be used to treat diseases like Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a debilitating disease that is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Unrelenting diarrhea and extensive nutrient and protein malabsorption are important components of IBD. Tackling IBD requires personalized approaches that span from immunosuppressive therapy to surgical intervention. Many of the current treatments have limited efficacy and can lead to serious comorbidities and complications for IBD patients.

A crucial pathological feature of IBD is elevated tight junction permeability, which has been observed in both active and inactive phases of IBD, as well as in some unaffected first-degree relatives of IBD patients. Moreover, in IBD patients in clinical remission, increased intestinal permeability has been linked to a higher risk of disease relapse. These findings suggest that therapeutic strategies aimed at normalizing the epithelial barrier defect could potentially benefit IBD patients.

Claudin proteins are key factors determining the permeability of small ions and water across tight junctions. Our research reveals that claudin ion channels exhibit behaviors akin to those of transmembrane ion channels and possess the potential to be selectively blocked, consequently reducing paracellular water and ion flux. Specifically, claudin-2 and claudin-15 are recognized for forming paracellular ion channels, which increased sodium and water flux. We have found, alongside other researchers, that claudin-2 expression is influenced by inflammatory cytokines that are elevated in IBD. While claudin-2 levels remain low in healthy colonic mucosa, its levels are increased in the presence of IBD and correlate with disease severity. Thus, targeting claudin-2 could be a novel IBD therapy.

Team:

  • Chris Weber – Cofounder, Associate Professor of Pathology, University of Chicago
  • Le Shen – Cofounder, Research Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Chicago
  • Fatemeh Khalili-Araghi – Cofounder, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago

// NanoAffix has developed a portable device for real-time detection of lead in tap water. The system consists of a handheld sensor module connected via Bluetooth to a mobile app. Their long-term solution: inline continuous sensor chips integrated with water filters.

The core technology is a patented graphene-based field-effect transistor (FET) platform technology that is highly sensitive to extremely low concentration of water contaminants. The FET sensing platform could be engineered to selectively detect various water contaminants such as heavy metals, PFAS, bacteria/viruses, antibiotics, and nutrients. The NanoAffix sensor chip products boast several key value propositions, including rapid response, low-cost, broad applicability, portability, and ease of use. NanoAffix’s inline continuous water sensor chip stands out as a disruptive product that does not exist in the current market.

The standalone handheld tester featuring NanoAffix’s one-time (single test) water sensor chips ensures a rapid and cost-effective measurement of lead/PFAS in water by water service providers/professionals. This not only enhances customer satisfaction but also boosts the sales of water treatment equipment, ultimately contributing to the market expansion for water service providers/professionals and NanoAffix. NanoAffix’s inline continuous PFAS sensor chips have the potential to revolutionize smart water filters. Integrating these sensor chips into upstream/downstream of the filter cartridge allows for continuous monitoring of water quality.

The sensors provide real-time feedback on filter efficacy and water quality. If the smart filter cartridge is not replaced regularly, degradation of water quality is likely, prompting users to replace the filter cartridge (including two sensor chips) more frequently. This creates a win-win situation, enhancing customer value, satisfaction, and confidence in water filters, while ensuring better protection of end-user safety. Consequently, this approach is poised to drive increased sales revenues for NanoAffix sensor chips and filter cartridges for filter manufacturers.

Team:

  • Junhong Chen, CEO and cofounder, Crown Family Professor of Molecular Engineering, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and lead water strategist at Argonne National Laboratory

// PAC Dynamic Using computational modeling and machine learning algorithms, together with a proprietary algorithm, we are able to model different therapeutic options to maximize care for patients with heart failure.

Team:

  • Jonathan Grinstein, Founder, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago

Advisory Committee

A full description of the Advisory Committee is available here.

ROBERT ALTMAN, MBA ’88, PHD
Member of the Board of Directors, Toltec Pharmaceuticals

KEN BRADLEY
President and CEO, PixelEXX Systems, Inc.

MUS CHAGAL, MBA ’97
Executive Chair, Great Lakes Crystal Technologies

COLEMAN COLLINS
Product, Design and Strategy, IonQ

DOUG GIVEN, MD, PHD
CEO, Health2047; Managing Partner, G5 Partners

STEVE GOULD, MD
Founder and Principal, The Gould Consulting Group

FRANK GRECO
Executive IT Architect, AI and Machine Learning, IBM

ALEXIS JI
Partner, Illumina Ventures

ANIA LABNO, PHD
Operating Executive, KKR

SCOTT MEADOW, MBA
Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship, Chicago Booth School of Business

BELA MEHTA, MBA
Managing Partner, CITG Capital

ALEX MUNNS, MBA
Assistant Portfolio Management, Driehaus Capital Management

ARMANDO PAUKER, MBA
Managing Director and Co-founder, Tensility Venture Partners

CHARLES POLSKY, MD ’96
Vice President and Director, William Harris Investors

MARTIN SANDERS, MD
Life Sciences Entrepreneur

BRIAN TOLLIVER, MBA ’99
Founder and Principal, Triple Edge Consulting

SCOTT WALBRUN, MBA ’19
Principal, BMW iVentures

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