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MIT Deshpande Center announces fall 2008 research grants

Nine research teams receive $700,000 to turn new ideas into commercial innovations
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The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT today announced it is awarding $700,000 in grants to nine MIT research teams working on early-stage discoveries. These projects have the potential to make a significant impact on our quality of life by revolutionizing disease therapies, allergy diagnosis, HIV care in the developing world, drug discovery, energy-efficient displays, energy storage, and nanoscale imaging.

Acting as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship, the Deshpande Center awards both Ignition Grants and Innovation Grants each spring and fall that fund proof-of-concept explorations and validation for emerging technologies. "While most of the world focuses on the current financial and economic crisis, we continue to focus our efforts on new technological innovations," said Leon Sandler, the center's executive director. "These innovations will be the engines of future economic growth providing new products and services that will improve the quality of peoples' lives."

The fall 2008 grant recipients are:

  • Utkan Demirci, affiliated faculty, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and Martha Gray, Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical and Electrical Engineering: CD-4 T Lymphocyte-Counting Microchip--A disposable CD-4 T lymphocyte-counting microchip providing fast, cost-effective, on-site HIV virus monitoring to improve patient care in the developing world (renewal from fall 2007 grant round.)
  • Gerald Fink, professor, biology; member, Whitehead Institute: Compound to enhance immune stimulation--A compound to stimulate a more powerful immune response to specific monoclonal antibodies, potentially enabling development of effective new disease therapies (renewal from fall 2007 grant round).
  • Karen Gleason, Alexander and I. Michael Kasser Professor of Chemical Engineering: Stable inorganic-organic hybrid light-emitting diodes--Long-lived LEDs on flexible substrates providing energy-efficient portable displays.
  • Rohit Karnik, Brit (1961) and Alex (1949) d'Arbeloff Caree Development Assistant Professor in Engineering Design, and Jeffrey Karp, affiliated faculty, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology: A novel device for label-free cell rolling separation--A device for separating cells that could be used for the monitoring and diagnosis of a wide variety of diseases.
  • Susan Lindquist, professor, biology; member, Whitehead Institute: Developing novel strategies to arrest biofilms--The development of novel therapeutic strategies to combat difficult-to-treat bacterial biofilm infections (renewal from spring 2008 grant round).
  • J. Christopher Love, Texaco-Mangelsdorf Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering: Quantitative diagnostic for allergies using single-cell technology:--An in-vitro test that will improve the accuracy of assessing responses to allergens, and will enable long-term monitoring of allergies and desensitizing therapies.
  • Donald Sadoway, John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Science and Engineering: Supervalent battery--A proof-of-concept for a novel battery utilizing a supervalent technology to move energy density beyond the limitations of Li-ion batteries.
  • Henry I. Smith, professor of electrical engineering, and Rajesh Menon, research engineer, Research Laboratory of Electronics: High-throughput nanoscale imaging--An absorbance modulation technique enabling economical high-resolution, high-throughput, nanoscale imaging for faster, more flexible analysis of nano-structures (renewal from fall 2007 grant round).
  • Graham Walker, American Cancer Society Professor of Biology: New antibiotic target:--A project to attempt to isolate lead compounds to develop a new antibiotic.

The Ignition and Innovation grants help recipients assess and reduce the technical and market risks associated with their innovations. In addition to financial support, the Deshpande Center's network of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academic and legal experts helps recipients assess the commercial potential of their innovations and make decisions that accelerate progress toward the development of business plans or licensing strategies.

For more details on the research projects, visit

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 22, 2008 (download PDF).

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