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Ben Franklin Venture Idol brings crowdfunding to Northeastern Pennsylvania

What if you did a mash-up of "Shark Tank" and "American Idol"? Except with entrepreneurs and investors instead of vocalists and celebrities.
The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/NEP) plans to do just that when it hosts Ben Franklin Venture Idol,  northeastern Pennsylvania's first crowdfunding event, on November 21. 
After two rounds of preliminary judging, three tech startup entrepreneurs will pitch their ventures to investors and a live audience of about 150, each of whom will distribute $100 in "Ben Bucks," to be honored later as a total of $15,000 in cash awards by BFTP/NEP. There is a Ben Franklin Venture Idol page on RocketHub.com so that interested individuals can invest real cash online prior to the event.
“Ben Franklin Venture Idol illustrates a significant way in which early-stage entrepreneurs seek and obtain seed capital,” says Laura Eppler, director of marketing for BFTP/NEP. “During this event, the audience and 10 promising technology firms will learn about company strengths and weaknesses, their likelihood for commercial success, and how to improve their funding pitches. Supporting entrepreneurs in this way is fundamental to Ben Franklin’s mission, allowing us to leverage our financial investments.”
The Ben Franklin Venture Idol competitors are:

Bison Analytics, LLC, Lewisburg, which produces business intelligence software for small businesses that use QuickBooks™ accounting software.
Cerora Inc., Bethlehem, which makes affordable neuro-diagnostic information available to non-specialists in the field. 

eVendor Check, Hawley, which reduces clients’ risks associated with vendor selection by using patent-pending survey tools and a supporting database.
GiveGab, Dunmore, whose proprietary web-based software platform is a social network of volunteers, nonprofits, schools, and businesses that allows them to connect using a single network.
Map Decisions, LLC, Bethlehem, whose MapCollect™ software platform for field-oriented industries operates on consumer-grade mobile devices and replaces outdated methods of data collection. 

Orbweaver Sourcing LLC,  Bethlehem, which develops, builds, and markets PricePerfect™ technology to automatically analyze and filter parts search results.
Pivitec, LLC,  Bethlehem, which develops audio streaming and distribution products. 

PROVA Systems, LLC, Carbondale, whose Fleet Genius™ diagnostic device links with its cloud-based software to collect, monitor, and analyze the performance of vehicles and drivers in a vehicle fleet. 
Skaffl, LLC,  Allentown, which produces a mobile app for teachers and students to exchange materials, assignments, completed homework, assessments and grades.
The tenth competitor will be named at Lehigh Valley Tech’s Startup Weekend event, scheduled for November 15-17. Admission to Ben Franklin Venture Idol is $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Register online at http://ennect.com/e2100.

Source: Laura Eppler, BFTP/NEP
Writer: Elise Vider

GE and Dow make mega investments in PA

Two global giants – GE and Dow – have made significant investments in Pennsylvania, with major physical expansions, retaining and possibly creating new jobs. 
Dow opened its new, 800,000-square-foot Northeast Technology Center in Collegeville last month. By the end of next year, about 800 employees and contractors, most transferred from Dow's Spring House location, will work at what will be one of Dow’s three largest R&D campuses. The facility has room for growth and can accommodate up to 1,300, says Dow spokesman Justin M. Land. Dow has a large presence in the Delaware Valley with about 2,000 employees and four of its 13 global businesses headquartered in the region. 
"The NTC will play a pivotal role as an innovation hub for many businesses in Dow’s Advanced Materials portfolio – a business unit headquartered in Philadelphia, which brings differentiated solutions to customers in key end-markets including electronics, consumer and lifestyle, infrastructure and transportation and energy," Dow said in a statement.
Nearly 500 miles away, in Lewistown, GE has opened a $10 million, 52,000-square-foot Customer Solutions Center  "to meet the growing demand for industrial and infrastructure inspection technology solutions worldwide." The center, which opened in June, is the North American hub for GE's Inspection Academy, which trains GE employees and customers in non-destructive testing (NDT). Critical in supporting safe operation and quality control, NDT enables the detection and evaluation of flaws in materials or structural properties, without producing harmful effects on the subjects being tested.
Jill Queenan, a GE spokeswoman, says the company does not disclose its hiring numbers, but that "GE has already significantly grown its workforce in Lewistown [currently above 250] to better support the world’s growing need for non-destructive testing solutions." 
Sources: Justin Land, Dow Chemical; Jill Queenan, GE
Writer: Elise Vider

PA universities dominate in national contest for innovative economic initiatives

Four innovative economic growth initiatives at Pennsylvania universities are among 20 finalists in a national competition recognizing cutting-edge programs.
Tim Hindes, director of marketing and communications for the Pittsburgh-based University Economic Development Association (UEDA), the competition's sponsor, says the Commonwealth's heavy presence among the finalists demonstrates how "institutions in Pennsylvania are focusing their efforts on building economic development initiatives, initially around startup development and then supporting those startups."
Final judging will happen at the UEDA's upcoming annual summit, October 27-29 in Pittsburgh. Criteria will include replicability/scalability, sustainability and originality. 
Three of the four PA finalists are competing, along with a fourth from Iowa, in the "innovation and entrepreneurship" category. They are:
The Entrepreneurial Fellows Center at the University of Pittsburgh's Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.
The center provides founders and presidents of high-growth companies with networking, mentoring and more to advance the knowledge and skills needed to manage rapid growth and propel their businesses to the next level. 
The Innovation Café at the Penn State College of Medicine. 
The iCafe provides access to resources needed to bring an idea from the lab to the marketplace. It offers networking forums, educational programming, access to capital and entrepreneurial mentorship.  The College of Medicine recently launched an Innovation Fund to invest in promising technologies.
The Research Commercialization Program at Innovation Works
IW is on of the four Ben Franklin Technology Centers in PA, covering the southwestern part of the state. Its Research Commercialization Program is a collection of initiatives that utilize university partnerships to provide funding and support for the commercialization of innovative technologies. 
In addition, Lehigh University's Master of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship  s competing in the "talent development" category.  Started in 2012, the new graduate program is aimed at creating successful student startups with product development and company launch required for graduation. This May, Lehigh graduated its first class of 14 entrepreneurs, launching 10 new businesses. 
Source: Tim Hindes, UEDA
Writer: Elise Vider

East Norriton's HighPoint Solutions hits a new high

HighPoint Solutions, a fast growing IT consulting firm, is expanding its East Norriton headquarters to accommodate 100 new jobs. The company, which focuses on life sciences and healthcare, already has 500 in its workforce.
"As we continue to expand our client base nationally, and with plans to open offices in Europe in the near future, the time is right," said founder and CEO John Seitz in a statement. "We're making $3 million worth of investments in 2013 alone."
The new facility will be adjacent to the company's current headquarters. HighPoint moved to East Norriton only early last year, occupying more than 14,000 square feet. At that time, the company reported about 400 employees.
HighPoint said it has already started recruiting for new positions in the business solutions, technology, talent acquisition and operations areas. 
HighPoint has set ambitious goals to not only continue its 20% year-to-year growth, but also "become the largest, privately held consulting firm serving the life science and healthcare marketplace by 2017."
Besides the Philadelphia area, the company, established in 2000, has offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Tampa and claims more than 140 clients nationwide.
Source: HighPoint Solutions
Writer: Elise Vider

York's Dataforma hits the roof

In 2003, when Mark Zeleznock and Daryl Maronic founded Dataforma, cloud computing was "a virgin market … For the first few years of the company's existence, nobody felt confident putting their data online," says CEO Zeleznock.
But all that changed – fast – and today Dataforma, headquartered in York, is the roofing industry's largest provider of web-based business management services. Mid-sized roofers with $3 to $20 million in work, multiple employees and offices are the core market, says Zeleznock. 
More than 300 roofing contractors use Dataforma to manage project data, work order/invoicing processes, customer correspondence records, bulk mailings, company/personal scheduling, product information, and document storage from one place. 
Now, with a new $150,000 investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA, Dataforma is investigating expanding its platform to serve other industries, in particular HVAC and electrical contractors and property managers.
The funds are also helping Dataforma grow its workforce, which currently numbers around 14, by adding sales and technical positions. Zeleznock says the company hires opportunistically, when the right people come along. And as a York native, he's especially psyched about "building a talent pool in York County."
Dataforma hires interns from a number of Pennsylvania universities and it's getting easier to recruit quality software developers locally, he says. The company just hired two intern developers from Clarion University.
Most of its jobs are in York, but Dataforma also has sales and training personnel around the country and a data-center operations team based in San Francisco to serve an expanding geographic market. The company is active in all 50 states, says Zeleznock, and is now moving aggressively into the Canadian market.
Source: Mark Zeleznock, Dataforma
Writer: Elise Vider

On your mark, get ready, startup: Startup Weekends coming to Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg

Arrive, collaborate, eat a lot of pizza, leave with a business. That's the idea behind two upcoming Startup Weekends in Pennsylvania. The events have become de rigueur for young, aspiring entrepreneurs who progress from pitch to prototype over 54 frenzied hours.
Startup Weekend Harrisburg is set for September 13-15 at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.  The second annual Lehigh Valley Startup Weekend runs November 15-17 at Ben Franklin TechVentures in Bethlehem.
Startup Weekend is a Seattle-based international movement that supports the development and expansion of entrepreneurship. Aspiring entrepreneurs are immersed in the process of moving an idea to market. Startup Weekend has built a network of more than 55,000 alumni, thousands of volunteer organizers and 100 trained facilitators across more than 300 cities in 100 countries.
The winning team at this year's Lehigh Valley event will get to compete in the upcoming Global Startup Battle. Last year’s winner, a startup representing Startup Weekend Toronto, was awarded more than $35,000 of in-kind prizes.
“Skaffl would not be where we are today without Startup Weekend. We came … with little more than an idea, and left with so much more,” says Rita Chesterton, the CEO of last year's Lehigh Valley winner, Skaffl. “It was through Startup Weekend that we were able to meet our CTO, Matt Smollinger. My cofounder Mike Hanssen and I had the opportunity to work with Matt in a high-productivity, high-stress environment for 54 hours. That time gave us confidence that we would make a great team together moving forward.”
Sources: Steven Infanti, Harrisburg University; Anthony Durante, Lehigh Valley Tech
Writer: Elise Vider

Philadelphia's QLIDA Diagnostics developing next-generation biomarker diagnostics

Every year, about 715,000 Americans experience a heart attack and early action is critical to saving lives, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But most people neither fully understand the warning signs nor know when to call 9-1-1.
QLIDA Diagnostics, a Philadelphia startup, is working to remedy that situation by developing an "ultra portable detection work station built around a smartphone," says Michael Boyce-Jacino, the company's founder and CEO.
QLIDA has received a total of $500,000 in investments from the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania  as it works to create its highly sensitive system for detecting the specific biomarkers that indicate a cardiovascular event. 
Noting that half of all heart attack victims die before they reach a hospital, Boyce-Jacino says that the detectors, being developed as a smartphone plug-in for use by first responders, can quickly identify and transmit crucial data. Long-term, the devices could be used by patients and families for monitoring chronic disease, such as glucose levels for diabetics. 
Elizabeth Papazoglou developed the chemistry behind QLIDA at Drexel University. Now the company is working on the engineering challenge of miniaturizing the technology, Boyce-Jacino says. He hopes to start testing next year, with a possible commercial launch for the device in 2015. 
The company, founded in 2010, works out of the University City Science Center and a lab at Drexel, Besides Boyce-Jacino, there is one other part-time engineer; he expects them to go full-time in the near future with a full complement of five by mid-to-late 2014.  
Boyce-Jacino also founded what is now BioNano Genomics, a San Diego based company that offers a platform for mapping DNA and chromosomes.
Source: Michael Boyce-Jacino, QLIDA
Writer: Elise Vider

Erie's reCAP shakes up some growth

Making her homemade salad dressing requires a whole lot of shaking and Karen Rzepecki had had it with leaky Mason jar lids. So she went online to buy some leak-proof, shake-and-pour caps. "That," she says, "was my aha moment. I couldn't believe it didn't exist."
With an already-instilled entrepreneurial spirit and small-business experience, she quickly saw the business potential. "I wanted it for myself, but I immediately saw the commercial opportunities," she says.
Rzepecki entered and won the 2011 Innovation Erie Design Competition. Using those funds, along with a successful Kickstarter campaign, she commissioned a designer and a tool-and-dye maker (a neighbor) to create molds for two standard-sized Mason jars and found a contract manufacturer, Erie Molded Plastics, to make the lids of BPA-free plastic. reCAP Mason Jars was launched.
Since then, Rzepecki reports, sales are up 200%. reCAP started selling on Amazon last September; by the end of the year it was among the online retailer's top 25% sellers.
The young company recently won $10,000 as a winner of the BIG IDEA business plan contest, sponsored by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern PA
Rzepecki plans to continue building her successful e-commerce platform, but is also moving into sales in bricks-and-mortar retailers. The product is already available at some hardware and general stores.
And she is relocating what till now has been a home-based business to the Erie Technology Incubator and expects to upgrade her four part-timers to full-time within six months. 
Source: Karen Rzepecki, reCAP Mason Jars
Writer: Elise Vider

York's new wet labs grease the way for MRG Laboratories

York College's J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship  has opened its new wet lab incubator space, providing resources and room to grow for its first tenant, MRG Laboratories
MRG is the developer of the Grease Thief, a patented device that allows sophisticated sampling and analysis of industrial equipment that relies on grease. Industries served include wind turbines, robotics, nuclear power plants and pharmaceutical makers.
Launched in 2007, MRG is on schedule to double its sales this year, says CEO Rich Wurzbach. The company employs nine, including several recent hires, and expects to hire another one or two this fall.
The new digs are helping to make expansion possible. At 3,000 square feet, they are nearly double the company's previous space, says Wurzbach. Amenities such as additional fume hoods, sinks and other equipment, plus light and air,  further  boost productivity.
Equally important, says Wurzbach, are the benefits of being in an incubator: opportunities for collaboration among the company, York College and local industry through internships, shared resources, employment opportunities and programs such as the college's Chemistry Industry Advisory Council.
For example, MRG is working with students in York's mechanical engineering department on a prototype for a "grease mini-lab," a portable device that can be used in the field and for which Wurzbach anticipates a large potential market.
Also promising is a modified product under development specifically for robotics applications, "almost a blood test for robots to check the health of this important workforce," says Wurzbach.
Source: Rich Wurzbach, MRG Laboratories
Writer: Elise Vider

Berwyn's QR Pharma develops novel treatments for brain disorders

Call it a stroke of insight.
Before she founded QR Pharma in 2008, Maria Maccecchini led Symphony Pharmaceuticals/Annovis, which discovered how to protect nerve cells from dying as a result of stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Now QR, her Berwyn-based, specialty pharmaceutical company, is developing novel treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative disorders and has helped determine that cells die the same way from such chronic diseases as they do from stroke or injury.
The discovery opens a possible new application for QR, which has two compounds in clinical development:  Posiphen targets early stage Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and may stop or slow the progression of the disease; BNC is expected to work in later stage Alzheimer's. QR is now studying whether its compounds could similarly treat damage from stroke or injury.
Maccecchini says that QR's early results are promising. "We can actually treat animals and get full recovery from learning problems, memory problems, mental deficiency problems," she says. "We can fully – and I really mean fully – recover these Alzheimer's animals and these Parkinson's animals."
QR recently received a $140,000 investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, in addition to an earlier infusion of $610,000.
Now Maccecchini is seeking $21 million to get to phase two clinical trials and hopes for a deep-pocketed corporate partnership to pave the way to the ultimate goal of approval and commercial launch. That is still four to five years and a few hundred million dollars away, she notes.
She's been down this road before: Symphony, which she founded in the early 1990s, was acquired by Transgenomic, a global biotech, in 2001.
Source: Maria Maccecchini, QR Pharma
Writer: Elise Vider

Safeguard comes through for Ambler's Clutch Holdings

Safeguard Scientifics, the Wayne-based, venture capital firm, is backing a young company and neighbor in Greater Philadelphia. At $5.5 million, it's a relatively small investment for Safeguard, but a highly promising one, says Erik Rasmussen, Safeguard's managing director, technology.
Clutch Holdings in Ambler is, according to Safeguard, the only mobile commerce platform that unifies gifting, loyalty programs and shopping. "We started looking heavily at the loyalty and gifting space on e-commerce," says Rasmussen. "And very few companies offer one platform for in-store, web and mobile devices."
And, adds Rasmussen, studies show that retailers with loyalty and gifting programs see 46% more purchases.
Still, it wasn't only the product and technology that drew the venture capital. Ned Moore, who founded Clutch with Andy O'Dell and Dan Guy, has a track record with Safeguard. Previously, he was co-founder, chairman and CEO of Portico Systems, which provided enterprise software solutions into the healthcare payer market. Portico was a Safeguard partner company from 2006 to 2011, when it was acquired by McKesson, a large, San Francisco-based healthcare services company, for $90 million in cash, generating a four-time, cash-on-cash return for Safeguard.
Clutch says it will use the new financing to further develop its mobile commerce platform. The company recently acquired ProfitPoint,  a leading supplier of loyalty and gifting. A spokesman for Clutch says the company currently employs over 30 and expects to double its team over the next two to three years.
Source: Erik Rasmussen, Safeguard Scientifics
Writer: Elise Vider

Only six months old, Erie's APCS wins BFTP-CNP BIG IDEA Business Plan Contest

Advanced Power Control Solutions (APCS) is only six months old, but precocious for its age. The company, which has developed an innovative coal/natural gas hybrid burner technology that allows coal-fired power plants to run cleaner and cheaper, is the winner of the BIG IDEA Business Plan Contest, sponsored by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA
APCS' technology, invented by Chris Abeyta, allows coal-fired plants to displace 30-40% of the coal they burn with cleaner natural gas or natural gas liquids by modifying the plant's existing coal burners through a cost-effective retrofit.
The company is officially based in Arizona, but with Pennsylvania's heavy reliance on coal, "Pennsylvania is where the growth is going to be," says Tom Woodward, APCS president. (And there is a large potential market nationally; Woodward notes that 40% of the nation's power still comes from 625 coal-powered plants.)
Not only has APCS a fully commercialized technology, ready for turnkey installation, but Woodward notes that the business plan includes partnering with suppliers to bring gas to the plants, capturing that contract as well.
One immediate prospect of interest to Woodward is FirstEnergy,  which announced last month that it would close two coal-fired plants in Western Pennsylvania, citing the cost of complying with environmental regulations and "the continued low market price for electricity." "The reasons they cited are exactly what our technology addresses," says Woodward.
As BIG IDEA prize winner, APCS gets $35,000, six months of residency at the Erie Technology Incubator at Gannon University,  one-year free tuition at the eMarketing Learning Center and a free, five-hour consult on intellectual property from attorney Jonathan D'Silva of Erie's MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton.
Two other finalists Adaptmicrosys and reCAP Mason Jars received $10,000 in seed money from Ben Franklin.
Source: Tom Woodward, APCS; BFTP-CNP
Writer: Elise Vider

BFTP-SEP celebrates its 30th with $1.9 million in funding to 10 young companies

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP), recently celebrated its 30th birthday by giving out presents: nearly $1.9 million to 10 early-stage companies.
They are:
AboutOne, Paoli, ($200,000; Ben Franklin previously committed $100,000) a secure and private online subscription service that provides a location for users to conveniently enter, store, manage and share family memories (text, photos, and videos) and household information (health, possession and education records, contacts and more) and access this data from anywhere, through any device.
Dynamis Skin Science, Inc.,  Jenkintown, ($500,000) which develops and markets topical skin health and anti-aging products that utilize the meglumine-based substance Supplamine® - a compound proven to interfere with and reverse the breakdown of skin. 
Luxtech, LLC,  Philadelphia, ($200,000) which, with the global, energy-efficient, LED lighting market growing rapidly, designs and develops AC and DC LED modules to serve the needs of legacy lighting fixture manufacturers in the general ambient lighting space.
MVP Interactive,  Philadelphia, ($125,000) a digital interactive software company focused on bringing highly engaging user experiences to client-sponsored events, such as professional sports games, theme parks, movies, and other entertainment venues.
Orion Fleet Intelligence, Conshohocken, ($75,000; Ben Franklin previously invested $100,000) that provides GPS/telematics enhanced business intelligence services to companies who rely on fleet operations as a significant part of their revenue/cost structure, and to their insurance carriers and brokers. 
Powerlytics,  Philadelphia, ($150,000; Ben Franklin previously committed $150,000) that provides financial statement benchmarking, market sizing and business research products, underpinned by the tax return data of all businesses and households in the United States.  The tax return data is harmonized with other government data sources, providing the most complete and accurate business decision tools available in the market today.
QLIDA Diagnostics, Philadelphia, ($200,000; Ben Franklin previously committed $300,000) which develops next-generation biomarker diagnostic tests.  The company’s proprietary portable, hand-held platform can be used for diagnosis of life-threatening diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, through the use of a nanotechnology-based protein detection.
QR Pharma, Inc., Berwyn, ($140,000; Ben Franklin previously committed $610,000) a specialty pharmaceutical company founded to develop novel treatments for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders. The company has two compounds in clinical development: Posiphen® targets early stage Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and may stop or slow the progression of the disease.  BNC is expected to work in later stage Alzheimer’s.
RMH Sciences, LLC, Doylestown, ($50,000 through the Technology Commercialization Fund) which aims to commercialize newly discovered antibiotics by Dr. Harvey Rubin, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Medicine.  One of RMH’s most promising ventures focuses on creating antibiotics to combat hospital acquired bacterial pathogens, a largely unmet need in the current marketplace.
ZSX Medical, LLC, King of Prussia, ($250,000; Ben Franklin previously committed $50,000, through the Technology Commercialization Fund) a pre-clinical-stage company dedicated to the improvement of internal surgical closure via its Zip-Stitch™ bio-absorbable technology.  Zip-Stitch™ clips aim to ease internal closure, often the most difficult part of minimally invasive surgery, reducing procedure time, post-operative infections and tissue adhesions that can cause scarring, pain and additional surgeries. 

Source: BFTP/SEP
Writer: Elise Vider

More birthday presents: BFTP-CNP delivers $1.2 million to eight startups

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA (BFTP/CNP) also marking the big 3-0, announced $1.2 million in funding for eight startups.
They are: 
Chromatan Inc.,  State College, is commercializing a new method for purifying drugs called Countercurrent Tangential Chromatography.  The company’s innovation is a cost effective alternative to the current method, column chromatography.
Maculogix, Inc., Hummelstown, has developed a diagnostic tool for the early detection of age-related macular degeneration. 
Hatchback, LLC,  Harrisburg, has developed a platform that allows retailer loyalty programs to take advantage of geo-location data.  
Hot Mix Mobile, LLC, Lebanon, manufactures a mobile, truck-mounted, mix-on-site volumetric Hot Mix Asphalt system.  RoadMixer™ repairs roads on demand, eliminating the need for cold patching. 
CrimeWatch,  located in the Ben Franklin TechCelerator in Carlisle, developed software that allows law enforcement agencies to use a simple web tool to manage, organize and control content relative to criminal activity. 
Dataforma, Inc., York, provides business management software for roofing contractors.  The company developed a single source, web-based and mobile device platform to support all the needs of this and vertical markets.
Lewis Designs, LLC,  Waterford, is in the process of designing and testing prototypes for an innovative new braking system. 
Direct Allergy, LLC, Erie, has started an allergy immunotherapy service that can be utilized by primary care physicians, especially those located in rural areas.  

Source: BFTP/CNP
Writer: Elise Vider

Researchers at 5 universities receive grant funding from Pittsburgh's Charles E. Kaufman Foundation

Universities across Pennsylvania are the beneficiaries of a new grant program by The Charles E. Kaufman Foundation, part of The Pittsburgh Foundation. Eight grants totaling almost $1.6 million were awarded to support cutting-edge scientific research at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University and Philadelphia’s Drexel and Temple universities.
The new, annual grantmaking program, which becomes one of the major resources for scientific research in Pennsylvania, was made possible through the biggest bequest to The Pittsburgh Foundation in its 68-year history to support new research initiatives at Pennsylvania institutions of higher learning in chemistry, biology and physics.
“These grants come at a critical time due to the constrained funding environment throughout the United States for scientific research programs,” said Dr. Graham Hatfull, chair of the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board and a University of Pittsburgh biotechnology professor.
In the "New Investigator" category, grants of $150,000 over two years were awarded to:
  • Joel McManus, Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon for research on “High-Throughput Probing of Human IncRNA Structure.”
  • Aditya S. Khair, Department of Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon for research on “Charges, Forces and Particles in Ionic Liquids.”
  • Michelle Dolinski, Department of Physics, Drexel for research on “Solid Xenon Bolometers for Radiation Detection.”
  • Sheereen Majd, Department of Bioengineering, Penn State for research on “Functional Studies of Multidrug Resistance Transporters at Single-Protein Level.”
  • William M. Wuest, Department of Chemistry, Temple for research on “The Development of Chemical Probes to Study Nucleoside Signaling in Bacterial Biofilms.”
Two-year "New Initiative" research grants were awarded to: 
  • Sergey M. Frolov and W. Vincent Liu, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh, $242,310 for research on “Topological Quantum Wire Emulators.”
  • Veronica Hinman and Jonathan Minden, Department of Biological Sciences; Bruce Alan Armitage and Danith H. Ly, Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon, $300,000 for research on “Developing a Sea Star Model for Regenerative Biology.”
  • Christine D. Keating, Chemistry and Theresa Mayer, Electrical Engineering & Materials Science & Engineering, Penn State, $300,000 for research on “Probing the Role of Interparticle Forces in the Collective Behavior of Particle Assemblies.”
Source: The Pittsburgh Foundation

Writer: Elise Vider
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