University of Wisconsin--Madison
Ankit Agarwal, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin--Madison in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He obtained BS and MS degrees in biochemical engineering and biotechnology from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India in 2002, and a PhD in chemical engineering from Iowa State University in 2007.
At the University of Wisconsin, Ankit is working on translational research projects leveraging advances in material sciences to biomedical applications. In one project, he has developed novel gels of liquid crystals that provide a portable and passive method to optically detect biomolecules and environmental agents like poisonous warfare gases. Currently, in collaboration with DVM and MD surgeons, he is working on developing novel approaches using organic thin films to engineer the bed of chronic wounds and expedite wound-healing. These projects have resulted in several research publications, one patent application, and other two IP disclosures filed in 2009.
Ankit's PhD dissertation on developing novel stimuli-sensitive copolymers for gene therapy against cancer produced five peer-reviewed research papers and an invited review article in international scientific journals. His work was recognized with the award for "outstanding contribution by a graduate student" at the annual meetings of the Society For Biomaterials and Gordon Research Conference - Polymers (West) in 2007.
Ankit secured All-India Rank thirty-eight in the Engineering Sciences stream of Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) in 2001 and was provided a scholarship for his Master's degree by the Indian government's Ministry of Science and Technology. He has interned at Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd in Delhi, India (a $1.5 billion annual turnover pharmaceutical company) and at University of Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France on a CNRS scholarship.
In his free time, Ankit volunteers for non-profit philanthropic organizations. This summer, he is a selected participant in the weeklong entrepreneurial bootcamp organized by the University of Wisconsin - Madison Business School.
University of Florida
Vijay Chandrasekharan, PhD, is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Florida (UF). He received his PhD in mechanical engineering from UF in May 2009, specializing in the area of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). He completed his bachelor’s degree in 2002 with distinction in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Karnataka, India. Vijay is also a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and IEEE.
As part of his dissertation, Vijay designed and demonstrated functionality of a shear stress sensor for aerodynamic drag and flow rate measurements. His current research focuses on further development to transition the shear stress sensor to wind tunnel facilities at NASA, with an ultimate goal to conceive a commercially viable product. Vijay also participated as a consultant with Freescale Semiconductor to evaluate cost-benefit tradeoffs associated with different product designs. Stemming from his inclination towards MEMS technology, Vijay's research interests include MEMS sensor and actuator design, modeling, fabrication, and characterization. Vijay envisions a viable startup company in pursuit of his entrepreneurial ambitions by commercializing his work in the emerging market for MEMS products with applications in various fields such as aerospace, environment and medical sciences.
Brown University, City University of New York
David Gruber completed a PhD in biological oceanography from the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences in 2007 and is currently an assistant professor of biology at the City University of New York, Baruch College. His research pertains to fluorescent proteins on coral reefs, and the multidisciplinary expedition to Australia's Great Barrier Reef that he co-led recently resulted in the cloning of twenty-eight of the roughly 120 fluorescent proteins discovered from marine organisms. From 2007 to 2008, David was a postdoctoral fellow at the Brown University Division of Biology and Medicine, working to develop these fluorescent proteins into modulatable probes with neurobiological and medical applications. David is a member of the CUNY Macaulay Honors College, a visiting scientist at Brown University and a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History and the Central Caribbean Marine Institute. In 2009, he co-founded Lucidicor, a development-stage organization commercializing novel products for the Life Sciences industry based upon fluorescent proteins.
In addition, David is committed to communicating science to the general public. He serves as a scientific advisor and producer for WNYC Studio 360's "Science and Creativity" series and his writings have appeared in The New Yorker, Nature Medicine and The Best American Science Writing 2007. A former tropical forester for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, his research now utilizes Remote Operated Vehicles and extended-range SCUBA to examine marine natural products, fluorescent proteins and bioluminescence on coral reefs. In 2010, he was awarded a major research instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation to design and engineer a submersible vehicle specificially to study the biology of deep coral reefs. He is the co-author of "Aglow in the Dark: The Revolutionary Science of Biofluorescence" (Harvard University Press, 2006) and he is currently co-producing a 3-D IMAX film on bioluminescence in conjunction with the National Film Board of Canada. David holds master's degrees in coastal environmental management from Duke University and in science journalism from Columbia University.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Yash M. Kolambkar, Ph.D., is a co-founder of Reactive Diagnostics Inc., an Atlanta, GA based biomedical imaging and diagnostics startup. The company's proprietary technology is based on a novel family of fluorescent probes, called hydrocyanines, which represent a new paradigm in the detection of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are free radicals that are key mediators of inflammation in numerous diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Product development is underway for biological research and clinical diagnostic applications.
Yash earned his Ph.D. in 2009 from the department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Yash has published and presented numerous scientific papers, and has been a reviewer for scientific journals. Yash is passionate about enabling scientific research to contribute to society by ensuring its translation from the lab to the marketplace. His career goal is to deliver innovative products from the "bench top to the bedside."
Yash has earned a technology commercialization certificate from the nationally recognized TI:GER (Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results) program, based at Georgia Tech and Emory Law School. In the program, he developed a commercialization plan for his Ph.D. technology, which would restore cartilage in osteoarthritic patients. He has been a consultant to VentureLab, where he identified and evaluated Georgia Tech technologies with strong commercial potential.
Riccardo LoCascio, MS, PhD
University of California--Davis
California Dairy Research Foundation
With support from the California Dairy Research Foundation, Riccardo LoCascio, MS, PhD serves as manager of industry partnerships and commercial development for the Functional Glycobiology Program at the University of California--Davis. In July 2009, Riccardo received his PhD in Microbiology at UC Davis working with Dr. David Mills, Dr. Bruce German and Dr. Carlito Lebrilla. His doctoral research in the Functional Glycobiology Program focused on understanding the functional role of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), and spanned across analytical chemistry, microbial biochemistry and genomics. Riccardo worked on the metabolism of HMOs by bifidobacteria, a group of probiotic bacteria abundant in the distal gut of infants. Using comparative genomics and NanoLC-MS-FTICR analytical methods, Riccardo described the genetic and molecular mechanism underlying the metabolism of HMOs in bifidobacteria. In 2005, Riccardo received his MS in agricultural chemistry from UC Davis and in 2002 a BS in biochemistry from New York University.
Riccardo is a Fellow of the Business Development Program at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management--Center for Entrepreneurship, and a graduate of the UC San Francisco Center for BioEntrepreneurship program. He received extensive training in financing the commercial development of biotech startups, as well as the management and transfer of technologies from the lab bench to profitable commercial ventures. During his tenure at UC Davis he was awarded two NIH Fellowships under the Training Program in Biomolecular Technology. In addition, he contributed to several patents and peer-reviewed publications, and was actively involved with the structuring of the Functional Glycobiology Program's IP portfolio. Riccardo consults with Bay Area startups and venture capital firms investing in agricultural biotech and consumer-oriented health and wellness brands. Riccardo is interested in creating for-profit social ventures to address global health challenges at the interface between foods, health and lifestyle.
University of Michigan
Timothy C. Marzullo received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001, where he worked on nerve injury intervention technology. In 2002, he worked as a Research Intern in Dr. Richard Boyle's biovestibular lab at NASA Ames Research Center. Tim received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2008 in Daryl Kipke's Neural Engineering Lab at the University of Michigan, studying the neocortex for neuroprosthetic applications.
Prior to his current Kauffman Fellowship, Tim worked with dual appointments as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan and as a research engineer for NeuroNexus Technologies, designing and supporting novel brain electrode technology for scientists around the world.
In early 2009, Tim co-founded "Backyard Brains," whose motto is "Neuroscience for Everyone" by designing and making inexpensive equipment (<$100) that allows scientists of all ages to study and understand the electrical activity of the brains of insects. The idea began as a self-imposed engineering challenge between Tim and his friend Greg Gage to improve neuroscience outreach to local schools in Michigan. The enthusiastic response from colleagues and educators nationally on the early prototypes of the "SpikerBox" and the "Ganglionizer" was sufficiently overwhelming that Backyard Brains was formed to take the project out of the workshop and into the hands of student-scientists around the country.
This exciting side project rapidly took over Tim's life, and with the generous sponsorship of the Kauffman Foundation, Tim now works full-time on Backyard Brains meeting the challenges head-on of taking his prototypes to market and removing the perception that the brain is magical.
When not working on neurotechnology, Tim can most often be found in his garage, continually restoring & repairing his cherry red 1973 Chevrolet El Camino and sky blue 1981 Toyota Tercel, or enjoying the adventures of newly wed life.
Samuel Mazin, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in Radiology at Stanford University, and co-founder of RefleXion Medical, a company developing the first cancer treatment system that will enable tumors to non-invasively signal their location during radiotherapy. Sam participated in the Stanford Graduate School of Business Summer Institute for Entrepreneurship, where he was named a GlaxoSmithKline Garnier Fellow. The RefleXion project was later a semi-finalist in the 2009 MIT 100K business plan competition. Sam's PhD at Stanford was focused on the design of a novel X-ray CT system, resulting in an issued patent, the Joel Drillings Award and pre-doctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association, as well as the prestigious Cum Laude award from the SPIE international medical imaging conference in 2007. He has been invited to speak about his research by the American Heart Association and General Electric's Global Research Center. Sam holds a PhD (2007) in electrical engineering from Stanford and a BASc (2002) in computer engineering from the University of Waterloo, Canada.
Franklin Thomas Moutos, PhD, is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University Medical Center and is working to develop new technologies for the treatment of degenerative joint diseases. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from North Carolina State University, where he studied textile engineering and polymer science. After completion of his master's degree, he worked for nearly three years at a small startup that designed and produced high-performance textiles and composite materials for aerospace, industrial, and medical applications. He then returned to graduate school at Duke University and completed his PhD degree in biomedical engineering, where his research was focused on the tissue engineering of articular cartilage. In his free time, Frank enjoys playing sports and fitness training. A few of his hobbies include music, cars, and do-it-yourself home improvement.
University of California--Irvine
Christopher S. Rex, PhD, is currently an EpiCenter Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California--Irvine in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Lynch, where he investigates the basic molecular and cellular underpinnings of neuronal networks and memory encoding in the mammalian brain. Christopher earned his BS in biopsychology at UC Santa Barbara, where he was trained in software engineering and participated in the development of virtual reality research tools now used by WorldViz, Inc. Christopher performed his graduate work at UC Irvine, where he examined how specific neurophysiological processes fail in early aging – a phenomenon that may be linked to age-related memory loss and certain cognitive impairments generally. Christopher co-authored eleven peer-reviewed articles in major neuroscience journals during this time, a body of work which received commentary from The Los Angeles Times and Nature magazine. He also collaborated with the neuropharmaceutical company Cortex, Inc., in which he designed and performed experiments for preclinical drug development.
Christopher is also intimately involved in the development of two biotechnology startup companies: Afraxis, Inc. and Thuris Corp. The former is financed by the venture capital firm Avalon Ventures in San Diego and is engaged in developing novel pharmaceuticals for mental retardation-related diseases, such as fragile-X syndrome. Currently he consults and collaborates with Afraxis to define therapeutic targets and test compounds in rodent disease models. In his work with Thuris Corp., he is actively involved in the development of innovative analytical software which identifies novel disease-defining features of EEG and event-related potentials in human patients. Christopher is currently developing novel methods for identifying brain-wide biochemical events related to memory encoding and neuropsychiatric dysfunction in rodent models. Overall, he intends to pursue a career in academic science and as an entrepreneur of neurodiagnostics and neuropharmaceuticals.
Carolina Salvador Morales
Carolina Salvador Morales, PhD, is originally from Mexico City. She received her BSc degree in physics (2001) from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, and her MSc degree in biochemistry (2003) from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. She earned her PhD in chemistry (2007) at the University of Oxford. Since 2007, she has been conducting her postdoctoral work in the area of immunoengineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Carolina's current research focuses on the study of the immunocompatibility properties of novel nanotherapeutics for cancer therapy, and the development of new types of vaccines based on nanoparticle platform technology.
During her scientific career, Carolina has authored and coauthored several peer-reviewed papers in multidisciplinary fields including medical physics, material sciences, biochemistry, chemistry and immunology. In her doctoral studies, she pioneered innovative immunological research topics on carbon nanotubes. Her studies shed light for the first time on a specific molecular mechanism that could explain the toxicity of carbon nanotubes. In her postdoctoral studies, she has made advances in the study of the biocompatibility of different nanomaterials.
Her recent work concentrates on the modulation of complement system activation. The complement system, as a part of the immune system, can be controlled precisely by manipulating the physico-chemical properties of nanoparticles. Carolina has made a substantial breakthrough by demonstrating that certain complement system proteins can function as nanoprobes to sense and manipulate the behavior of nanoparticles within a nano-scale environment. Her fundamental and translational work shows remarkable potential to further various medical fields such as cancer therapy and vaccinology.
In the future, Carolina aspires to use her expertise to open new avenues in the field of immunoengineering, and thus foster fruitful merging of scientific investigation with business and social development.
Praveen Kumar Vemula
Praveen Kumar Vemula, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow in Prof. Jeffrey M. Karp's laboratory in the Harvard‐MIT Division of Health Science and Technology at Harvard Medical School. He has published eighteen peer-reviewed papers and eight abstracts, and has eight provisional patents and technology disclosures. Four of his research papers appeared as cover page articles. Praveen obtained his PhD in India from the Indian Institute of Science in Organic Chemistry, where he worked with Professor Santanu Bhattacharya. His doctoral research focused on the development of novel catalysts for decontamination reactions and involved detailed experimental and computational studies. He joined the City College of New York (2005) as a postdoctoral fellow in Professor George John's laboratory and developed a novel concept of in situ preparation of organicinorganic hybrid materials that has the ability to generate nanoparticle‐embedded self‐assembled nanoarchitectures. This work was published in peer-reviewed journals including Nature Materials, Angewandte Chemie, Chemical Communications and Chemistry of Materials. In 2008, Praveen joined Harvard Medical School as a senior postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Karp's laboratory to develop the next generation of biomaterials to solve challenging medical problems. Specifically, Praveen developed a platform technology to create prodrug based hydrogels that he is currently exploring with a number of clinical collaborators to treat inflammatory arthritis, brain tumors, and inner ear disease. Praveen also developed a strategy to prevent contact dermatitis.
Praveen's work has been recognized by Nature, Nature Nanotechnology, The New York Times, Newsweek, Chemical & Engineering News, Scientific American, Materials Research Society, Materials Today, American Chemical Society, United Press International, Nanotechnology News, Nanowerk, Green Chemistry Network and the National Science Foundation.
Carnegie Mellon University
Yevgen Voronenko is a project scientist at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon University. He received a BS degree in computer science from Drexel University in 2003, and his PhD from Carnegie Mellon in 2008, where he was awarded the A.G. Milnes Outstanding PhD Dissertation award. His research interests include scientific computing, software engineering, programming languages, and compiler design.
University of Louisville
Mehdi M. Yazdanpanah is the CEO-Founder of NaugaNeedles LLC. He holds a PhD degree in electrical engineering from the University of Louisville (2006), where he studied room temperature self-assembly of metal alloy nanostructures. During his doctoral studies, Mehdi co-invented a procedure to selectively grow nanoneedles on AFM tips. Later on, this invention became the basis to establish NaugaNeedles in 2007. He also holds a BS degree in physics from Sharif University of Technology (1998) and MS degree in physics from Beheshti University (2001), where he designed and fabricated a scanning tunneling microscope (STM).
Mehdi is the author of more than twenty peer-reviewed journal and conference proceeding papers and the co-inventor of three pending US patents. He received the 2008 Vogt Innovation Award, an unrestricted cash award of $120,000 awarded to NaugaNeedles. His business plan was the selected winner among fifty industrial applicants. Under Mehdi's leadership, NaugaNeedles has achieved tremendous milestones including: raising more than $800,000 in federal, state and private funding, established the NaugaNeedles' manufacturing facility capable of producing more than $3,000,000 worth of products per year, sold NaugaNeedles products to more than 60 customers worldwide, and expect to expand its customers base significantly in near future.
Mehdi is the PI on 3 active and 3 pending grant proposals to further develop the NaugaNeedles' technology. In his active projects, NaugaNeedles is developing a state of the art Ultra-Soft Atomic Force Microscope (USAFM) instrument, and a mass fabrication of high aspect ratio AFM probes with low price. These projects are important steps toward NaugaNeedles' exponential growth.