Advancing ingenuity

April 27, 2016

Cambridge, Mass. - April 27, 2016 - Between academic discovery and product development lurks a lull in research funding that inventors call the "chasm of death," where a prototype or a proof of concept can feel just out of reach.

To address that development gap, five projects initiated by faculty at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences have been selected to receive funding of between $70,000 and $100,000 each through Harvard's Physical Sciences & Engineering Accelerator.

The funding is designed to support a burst of activity on a specific project to bring it to a development milestone at which an industrial partner or investor might engage -- for example, by sponsoring further research, licensing the technology, or launching a new company.

"The ability to attract an industrial or venture partner is often 'make or break' for an emerging academic technology, if you want to see it become a useful product in the outside world," said Mick Sawka, a director of business development in Harvard's Office of Technology Development (OTD). "We've found that a relatively small amount of very targeted support can help faculty demonstrate that a new invention is ready to break out of the lab."

Established by OTD in 2013, the Physical Sciences & Engineering Accelerator awards funding annually, through a competitive selection process, to Harvard research projects that have demonstrated some initial results and have clear potential to develop into impactful technologies and products. Over the course of the year, investigators work toward predefined milestones, with access to industry advisors, dedicated guidance from OTD on intellectual property protection, and a comprehensive commercialization strategy that encourages entrepreneurship.

The five projects receiving support from the Physical Sciences & Engineering Accelerator this year are as follows:

Stephen Chong, Associate Professor of Computer Science, has created a shell scripting language, called Shill, that offers strong and flexible security for complex tasks like system administration, through a combination of programming language design and sandboxing technology. Developed with postdoctoral researcher Christos Dimoulas and graduate student Scott Moore, Shill could improve the security of enterprise and cloud-based system administration.

Graduate student Frederick Chang, in the Engineering and Physical Biology Track of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and his mentor Nancy Kleckner, Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Biology, have invented a highly sensitive pattern-detection algorithm which, in combination with a suitably designed microscope, will enable three-dimensional time-lapse imaging of living systems at the molecular scale. By giving researchers a better view inside cells, the system could, for example, dramatically enhance the process of evaluating drugs for clinical trials.

Charles Lieber, Mark Hyman, Jr. Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, has invented polymer-like mesh electronics and a method of delivering the electronics by syringe injection into living organisms. These biocompatible electronic implants can be used to record activity from and deliver electrical stimulation to the nervous system, and could potentially be used to treat neurological and neurodegenerative diseases.

David A. Weitz, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, has developed a high-throughput microfluidics platform to analyze and sort nanoliter-sized droplets of liquid or gel. These droplets are ideal for functional analysis of individual cells. The platform will enable rapid isolation of immune cells that recognize infected or cancerous cells.

George M. Whitesides, Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor, has invented a paper-based respiration sensor that can characterize sleep apnea. Combined with wireless electronics, the sensor could transmit results to a healthcare professional, enabling diagnosis of sleep apnea at home and at low cost, with less need for conventional sleep studies in the initial characterization.

"The research projects stand out for their imagination and creativity," said Senior Associate Provost Isaac T. Kohlberg, Harvard's Chief Technology Development Officer. "Each one is challenging the state of the art in science, technology, or health care. The accelerator model we've pioneered through the Physical Sciences & Engineering Accelerator and the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator takes a strategic approach to advancing technologies like these while they're still in the lab, incubating them a little longer to ensure they thrive."
-end-
Harvard's Physical Sciences & Engineering Accelerator has catalyzed the launch of several startup companies in recent years, including Voxel8, RightHand Robotics, Calculario, and Validere, as well as licenses to companies like Green Energy Storage, which is developing a flow battery technology based on Harvard research.

Harvard University

Related Sleep Apnea Articles from Brightsurf:

Sleep apnea may be risk factor for COVID-19
The question of sleep apnea as the risk factor for COVID-19 arose in a study conducted by the Turku University Hospital and the University of Turku on patients of the first wave of the pandemic.

Untreated sleep apnea is associated with flu hospitalization
As we approach flu season, adults with obstructive sleep apnea may want to take extra precautions.

Losing tongue fat improves sleep apnea
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the effect of weight loss on the upper airway in obese patients, researchers found that reducing tongue fat is a primary factor in lessening the severity of OSA.

More cancer cases among women with sleep apnea
Women with severe sleep apnea appear to be at an elevated risk of getting cancer, a study shows.

New evidence on the association of shortened sleep time and obstructive sleep apnea with sleepiness and cardiometabolic risk factors
A new study in the journal CHEST® may change the way we think about sleep disorders.

Synthetic cannabis-like drug reduces sleep apnea
A synthetic cannabis-like drug in a pill reduced apnea and daytime sleepiness in the first large multi-site study of a drug for apnea.

Inflammation may precede sleep apnea, could be treatment target
Inflammation is traditionally thought of as a symptom of sleep apnea, but it might actually precede the disorder, potentially opening the door for new ways to treat and predict sleep apnea, according to researchers.

Concerns that sleep apnea could impact healthspan
The number of people with obstructive sleep apnea has steadily increased over the past two decades.

Sleep apnea and insomnia combination linked with depression
A new study found that men with sleep apnea and insomnia have a higher prevalence and severity of depressive symptoms than men with sleep apnea or insomnia alone.

Anti-nausea drug could help treat sleep apnea
An old pharmaceutical product may be a new treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, according to new research presented today by University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University scientists at the SLEEP 2017 annual meeting in Boston.

Read More: Sleep Apnea News and Sleep Apnea Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.