Govind Srimathveeravalli Receives Acorn Innovation Grant Award from MassVentures

MassVentures has chosen Govind Srimathveeravalli, assistant professor in the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, for a $16,250 Acorn Innovation Grant Award to support his research on a pioneering prostate cancer diagnostic technology.

NEWS Govind Srimathveeravalli
Govind Srimathveeravalli

Srimathveeravalli will collaborate with Dr. Stephen Solomon, MD, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to translate this groundbreaking technique to patients.

In January, MassVentures Announced a total of $195,000 in seed funding to help launch 12 faculty research projects from around Massachusetts. As MassVentures explains, “Acorn Innovation Awards help Massachusetts research institutions commercialize scientific breakthroughs.”

The Acorn Awards are funded by the Massachusetts Legislature, through the Commonwealth’s Innovation Commercialization Seed Fund, and overseen by MassVentures.

Selected from a field of 22 applicants, the recipients were each chosen for their project’s technical merit, commercial viability, project plan, and strength of team. Seven of the projects selected are researching advances in medical devices or therapeutics, as is the case of the improved biopsy technique for prostate cancer pioneered by Srimathveeravalli.

As Srimathveeravalli says, “This research team has developed a high-quality ‘liquid biopsy’ technique that allows for far greater sampling of potentially malignant tissue than the standard needle biopsy. The aspiration technique produces on-demand liquid samples, enriched with intracellular material such as DNA, RNA, protein, and metabolites, that can directly be fed into existing cancer diagnosis pipelines and genomic sequencing with minimal post-processing.”

As the head of the Srimathveeravalli Research Group, Srimathveeravalli says he develops “research and technology for the delivery of non-ionizing energy that enables ablation or drug delivery to both tumors and healthy living tissue. Mathematical models guide the design of novel medical devices to deliver energy to different locations in the body.”

Srimathveeravalli also says that “Our techniques allow the targeted modulation of barrier function in the tissue microenvironment (cell membrane, stroma, and blood vessels), creating new platforms for the study of cancer and other diseases. The knowledge gained from our experiments has applications in tumor ablation, drug delivery, immunotherapy, and tissue engineering.”

According to Vinit Nijhawan, managing director of MassVentures, “Massachusetts leads the nation in translating basic research to the market, thanks in no small part to programs like Acorn that recognize the importance of funding academic entrepreneurs at the very earliest stage of innovation. We are grateful for this support from the Legislature.”