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MIT Deshpande Center announces fall 2011 research grants

Eight research teams receive $668,000 to develop new technological innovations
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Leon Sandler
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Executive Director, Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation
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The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT today announced it is awarding $668,000 in grants to 10 MIT research teams currently working on early stage technologies. These projects have the potential to make a significant impact on our quality of life by revolutionizing materials, diagnostics, medical procedures, diabetes treatment, vision correction, high-power electronics, solar energy efficiency and software support.

The Deshpande Center, acting as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship, awards grants that fund proof-of-concept explorations and validation for emerging technologies. “We continue to be impressed by the creativity and ingenuity of our grantees,” said Leon Sandler, the center’s executive director. “Their technologies could have a significant impact in health care, energy, materials and design.”

The fall 2011 grant recipients are:
  • An ultrasound pill for localized delivery of therapeutic compounds: Daniel Anderson with Carlo Giovanni Traverso, Avi Schroeder and Carl Schoellhammer
    Many drugs cannot be delivered orally as they cannot penetrate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract tissue at a sufficient rate to be effective. The only option is to inject them into patients. This project will develop an ingestible miniature “pill” that will apply an ultrasound signal to the GI tract while delivering a drug. The ultrasound will improve the uptake of the drug in the GI tract. This would allow a new class of drugs to be delivered orally, improving patients’ clinical outcome and quality of life.
  • On-chip diagnostic device: Geoffrey Beach with Elizabeth Rapoport
    A chip-based, point-of-care diagnostics device for rapid results in clinical settings. There are many tests that clinicians send to a lab and wait hours or days for results. This project will develop such technology for use in clinical settings to provide rapid test results. (Renewal from fall 2010 grant round)
  • MEMS for large-area and flexible Applications: Vladimir Bulovic with Trisha Andrew, Apoorva Murarka, Sarah Paydavosi and Annie Wang
    A flexible, paper-thin microelectromechanical system (MEMS) array that can be used for sensing and actuation over large surfaces. (Renewal from fall 2009 grant round)
  • Treatment of water produced from shale gas extraction: Gang Chen with Anurag Bajpayee
    In hydraulic fracturing of shale gas, large quantities of highly saline water are produced. This water needs to be treated to remove the dissolved salts. Current methods are expensive and energy intensive. This project will develop a low-cost solvent extraction process to remove the dissolved salts from this “frac” water. This would improve the economics of shale gas extraction.
  • An intra-peritoneal implantable drug-delivery device for ovarian cancer: Michael Cima with Michael Birrer, Marcela DelCarmen and Hongye Ye
    The delivery of chemotherapy drugs for ovarian cancer currently requires injecting the drugs via a catheter many times, over several weeks. The catheter creates a high risk for infection. This project will develop a device that can be implanted in the peritoneum once, and deliver the drugs over a long time period. This would reduce infections and complications for patients.
  • Tissue-specific adhesive materials: Elazer Edelman with Natalie Artzi, Maria Carcole, Joel Goldberg and Beatka Zakrzewski
    A class of biocompatible adhesive materials that can be designed to match tissue type and used in surgery. These adhesive sealants would reduce leakage after surgeries reducing complications and improving patient health. (Renewal from fall 2010 grant round)
  • Real-time component-based simulations for design: Anthony Patera with Phuong Huynh, David Knezevic and Thomas Leurent
    Current computer simulations used in engineering design are very complex to create and very time consuming to execute. The procedures developed in this project offer two key advantages: first, the ability to build — once — parametric computational components and to then re-use/assemble these components for the rapid and accurate analysis of a wide variety of systems; second, the ability to rigorously and rapidly certify the accuracy of these predictions relative to a detailed — physics high — resolution finite element truth. These techniques will allow engineers to perform very fast, reliable, low-cost simulations, and hence design and support better products.
  • Nano-engineered surfaces for ultra high power density thermal management: Kripa Varanasi with Christopher Love, Hyukmin Kwon, Adam Paxson, and David Smith
    Heat needs to be removed rapidly from high power electronics or the semiconductors will fail. This project will develop a system to very rapidly dissipate large amount of heat from such devices. (Renewal from fall 2009 grant round)
The Deshpande Center’s mission is to move technologies from the laboratories at MIT to the marketplace. The Deshpande Center 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:

The Deshpande Center has provided approximately $11 million in grants to more than 90 MIT research projects since 2002. Twenty-six projects have spun out of the center as independent startups, having collectively raised more than $350 million in outside financing from investors.

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