Life Science Laboratory
Honors and Awards

2023 Manning/IALS Innovation Awards Recipients Announced

The UMass Amherst Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) has announced that six campus research teams have been named recipients of the fifth annual Manning/IALS Innovation Awards. These translational grants advance applied R&D efforts from UMass-based faculty research groups toward the development of spin-out/startup companies and the out-licensing of UMass intellectual property.

The UMass Amherst Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) wordmark

The projects, which were selected from a highly competitive group of applicants, will receive seed funding of up to $100,000 each to achieve translational milestones.

The Manning/IALS Innovation Program is a collaborative effort involving IALS, the UMass I-Corps program, the College of Natural Sciences, the Technology Transfer Office and the Isenberg School of Management, providing support for commercialization efforts including business training, the protection of intellectual property, access to industry partners, contracting and mentorship resources.

The funded projects for 2023 are: 

  • Ernest PharmaceuticalsNeil Forbes, chemical engineering, College of Engineering Programmed Bacteria to Destroy Cancer
  • LatdeM. Sloan Siegrist, microbiology, College of Natural Sciences
    Accessible, Rapid Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing Using Lateral Flow Detection of Metabolic Labeling
  • Organicin ScientificMargaret Riley, biology, College of Natural Sciences
    Fermentation-Based Production of Kilogram Quantities of Bacteriocins for Field Trial Testing 
  • SkyRayBioMin Chen, chemistry, College of Natural Sciences, Development of a Nanopore Platform for Selective Screening of Allosteric Inhibitors Against Protein Kinases
  • TBD MedicalGovindarajan Srimathveeravalli, mechanical and industrial engineering, College of Engineering, Device and Technology for Prostate Biopsy
  • The Skouta Lab (Newco/Licensing) – Rachid Skouta, biology and chemistry, College of Natural Sciences, Novel Ferroptosis Inducer Drug Candidate to Target RAS-Positive Tumors

Manning/IALS awardees are identified by a rigorous selection process that brings together on-campus and off-campus industry and institutional investor expert reviewers with science, engineering, public health and health sciences, nursing and data/computer science expertise. The IALS Executive Committee, which includes the chancellor, vice chancellor for research & engagement, the provost, the IALS director and five STEM deans, also contributes to the selection process.

Since the initial 2019 awards, supported projects have secured over $5 million in grants and investment for ongoing development in UMass Amherst labs and seven startup companies.

“We are encouraged by the progress Manning IALS awardees have been able to make with this support,” says Peter Reinhart, founding director of IALS. “While crossing the ‘valley of death’ is not for the faint of heart, we know that Manning/IALS seed funding in concert with other campus programs that support research commercialization are helping UMass startup and technology teams achieve their potential.”

UMass alumnus Paul Manning ’77 and his wife, Diane, have committed $4 million to date to establish and grow the Manning Innovation Program through their family foundation. The gift provides for multiple years of support advancing a robust and sustainable commercialization pipeline of applied and translational research projects from UMass Amherst. IALS provides the organizational framework and further funding for this innovation program, which has enabled funding for six Manning/IALS Innovation Awards each of the last four years.

Paul Manning is an entrepreneur with 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, who most recently founded PBM Capital Group in 2010. He was also the anchor investor in Maroon Venture Partners, the first venture-capital fund at UMass Amherst.

IALS was established in 2014, supported by a total investment of more than $150 million from the Massachusetts Life Science Center and the campus.

Cyta Therapeutics logo

UMass Amherst Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) startup Cyta Therapeutics was the Judges’ Choice Best Startup at the 16th annual Massachusetts Life Sciences Innovation (MALSI) Day in Boston on July 27.