5 faculty awarded new CVIP grants

Five faculty members have been awarded $10,000 grants from a new University system fund intended to accelerate the commercialization of technology developed in UMass laboratories.

The grants from the Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP) Technology Development Fund were announced at the May 5 Board of Trustees meeting by President Jack M. Wilson.

"Our University develops more than workers for the innovation economy; it creates the knowledge that improves lives and strengthens the economies of every region of Massachusetts," Wilson told the trustees. "These grants will help us move University inventions closer to commercialization, closer to creating real benefits for people."

According to Wilson, the grants will typically fund activities such as prototype development and proof of concept studies to make the technology more attractive for commercialization. Similar activities have proven effective in improving the rate of commercialization at other universities such as MIT and typically this type of funding is not available from any other sources. The grants will be managed by the Office of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property, a unit of the President''s Office.

Licensing of UMass intellectual property is expected to generate $25 million this year for the University.

The grant recipients and their projects are:

Todd Emrick, Polymer Science -- Use of novel polymers to release chemicals and biologically active compounds. This would permit use of a range of novel chemicals for control of pests in agriculture and have advantages in both performance and safety over traditional pesticides.

Lloyd Semprevivo, Veterinary and Animal Sciences -- Development of vaccines against three diseases. Funds will pay for purchase of cultures needed to develop the vaccines and will result in a vaccine prototype. Two hundred million people suffer from schistosome infections worldwide. Use of traditional antibiotics is leading to resistant strains and is a major health issue.

Elizabeth Stuart, Microbiology -- Use of flow cytometry to detect chlamydia. The most commonly identified infectious disease in the U.S., chlamydia has particular consequences for women, including higher likelihood of contracting HIV if exposed. Treatment with antibiotics is effective if the disease is detected and treated. Funds will pay for the conduct of three critical experiments that will help to demonstrate technical feasibility for potential licensees.

Clifford Konold, Scientific Reasoning Research Institute -- Development of a data analysis tool for use in middle schools for subjects such as algebra and geometry. Students will be able to design their own graph, charts and organize data. Some 70 sites in the U.S. are being tested. Funds would be used to purchase computers and software to upgrade the system and thus enhance ongoing licensing discussions.

Paul Voss, Geosciences -- Development of altitude-controlled balloons for air mass tracking with applications for forecasting, national security and communications. Funds will leverage National Science Foundation support and will be used to complete development of one of the critical sub-systems and thus move the technology closer to prototype stage.

Five faculty from the Boston,Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester campuses also received grants.