Life Sciences Discovery Fund announces R&D grants

December 18, 2013

The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) today announced $1.1 million in five Proof of Concept grants to Washington for-profit and non-profit organizations to foster the translation of health-related products from the laboratory into the commercial marketplace.

Two of the five new grants will advance rapid testing technologies that were invented within Washington-based companies. HeatFlow Technologies (principal investigator Warren Dinges) will validate the performance of a novel PCR system for diagnosing and managing human diseases, with an initial focus on HIV/AIDS. Photonic BioSystems, Inc. (principal investigator David Putnam) will construct and test a portable device for detecting water contamination by disease-causing microorganisms.

The remaining three awards will promote the transition of promising technologies and concepts out of university settings and into the for-profit sector for commercialization. Amit Bandyopadhyay of Washington State University will test novel joint implant materials that may be safer and more durable than current products. Vincenzo Cirulli of the University of Washington will optimize an assay to screen stem cell therapies for tumor-forming potential in advance of human testing. Joseph Harding of Washington State University will study a new treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease) in a preclinical model.

"We continue to see strong interest in the Proof of Concept granting program throughout Washington's life sciences community. Our latest awards are indicative of the high quality of applications we receive each cycle, and we believe that each grantee has strong potential to help make Washingtonians healthier and safer," stated John DesRosier, LSDF executive director.

The LSDF Board of Trustees made the final award selections following review of proposals for scientific and technical merit, commercial potential, and possible health and economic benefits in Washington.
LSDF is still accepting Proof of Concept grant applications; $3 million has been allocated for award through August 2014. For details, please visit the LSDF website at, email, or call 206-456-9577.

Funding for the new grants comes from Washington's allocation of payments under the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement of 1998, revenues arising from multi-state litigation with tobacco product manufacturers.

LSDF Proof of Concept Grant Awards

Amit Bandyopadhyay, Washington State University, $250,000
Project Title: Next Generation Articulating Surfaces for Load-Bearing Implants
Objective: To develop durable and less toxic joint replacement materials

Vincenzo Cirulli, University of Washington, $250,000
Project Title: Development of an In Vitro Teratoma Assay
Objective: To optimize a device to assess the ability of stem cells to form tumors at the lab bench, thus reducing the need for animal testing

Warren Dinges, HeatFlow Technologies, $150,000
Project Title: HF-PCR™ Point of Care HIV Viral Load Assay Development
Objective: To assess functionality of a rapid, low-cost system for measuring HIV levels in clinical and research settings

Joseph Harding, Washington State University, $250,000
Project Title: Evaluation of a Small Molecule HGF Mimetic as an ALS Therapeutic
Objective: To conduct preclinical testing of a drug candidate for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease)

David Putnam, Photonic BioSystems, Inc., $248,501
Project Title: Rapid Field Test Identifying Fecal-Contaminated Waters for Pollution Source Detection
Objective: To develop and validate portable technology to screen for water contamination by disease-causing bacteria with very short turnaround times

The Life Sciences Discovery Fund, a Washington state agency established in May 2005, makes grant investments in innovative life sciences research and development to benefit Washington and its citizens.

Life Sciences Discovery Fund

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