From left: Drs. Jau-Nian Chen (UCLA) and Ohyun Kwon (UCLA).
By Jessica Castillo
Drs. Jau-Nian Chen and Ohyun Kwon of the Departments of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and Chemistry and Biochemistry won the 2016 Venture Team competition for their work on a small molecule that appears to restore coordinated contractions of the heart. The researchers received $30,000 in proof-of-concept support from the UCLA Business of Science Center (BSC) and UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), which sponsor the competition.
"The funding from the UCLA BSC and CTSI will help us to obtain medicinal chemistry and pharmacology data, which in turn, will be critical for securing the funding for the pre-clinical studies," Dr. Kwon said. Pre-clinical studies will cost several million dollars, she said.
UCLA BSC and UCLA CTSI invited UCLA innovators to submit descriptions of medical technologies to compete for funding. Finalists were partnered with teams of Ph.D. and M.B.A. students, who, under the guidance of an industry expert, analyzed the commercial potential of the technology. Teams then presented their findings to a panel of judges made up of investors, industry executives and local business leaders.
In addition to a cash prize, winners receive mentoring from industry professionals and project support from the BSC.
Student members of the winning team are Tiancheng Fang, Shahriyar Jahanbakhs, Binsen Li, and Scott McConnell.
For a list of past Venture Team awardees and other CTSI awardees, see the UCLA CTSI Funding Opportunity page.
Jessica Castillo is the CTSI's Web Editor