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Six finalists will compete for the $50,000 Global Impact Award

June 21, 2016

Applications have closed for the 3rd annual Global Impact Award (GIA). Out of 34 applications from across the globe, six finalists were selected last week. The finalists will compete for an award of up to $50,000 in the final event in November.

Hosted by the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Skandalaris), GIA is made possible by the generous donation of alumnus Suren G. Dutia and his wife, Jas K. Grewal. This competition is for early stage startups. Its mission is to support the vision and passion of Washington University in St. Louis students, postdoctoral researchers, and recent alumni who are creating ventures that are scalable, sustainable, and quick-to-market with proof of concept and a broad impact.


Award-winning teams include: (Note: WashU-affiliated team members are emboldened.

November 2016 edit: Only four of the original six teams are still competing for the award, Epharmix, Geneoscopy, Rare Genomics, and The Women’s Bakery)



Epharmix builds disease-specific, automated, interactive communication tools that track patients’ conditions.

  • Blake Marggraff (CEO; Washington University, BS ’15 Biology)
  • Evan Huang (CTO; Washington University, BS ’15 Computer Science)
  • Avik Som, PhD (Chief Medical Officer; Washington University, MD/PhD 17′)
  • Joe McDonald (COO/CFO; Washington University, BS ’15 Biomedical Engineering/MBA)
  • Christine Stavridis (Creative Director; Washington University, BFA ’11 Communication Design, Computer Science)
  • Andrew Garvin (Engineer; Washington University, BS DNC Computer Science)
  • Nicholas Spitzer (Medical Sales Representative)
  • Cody Meyer (Account Manager)



Colon cancer detection through take-home stool tests

  • Erica Barnell (Washington University School of Medicine MD/PhD Candidate)
  • Yiming Kang (Washington University PhD Candidate in Computer Science)
  • Andrew Barnell


Rare Genomics:

The Rare Genomics Institute is a patient-centered and science driven ecosystem that leverages the power of crowdfunding and social media to empower those affected by rare diseases to accelerate research and find hope for a cure.

  • Jimmy Lin, MD, PhD, MHS (President/Founder; Former research instructor at WashU; Entrepreneur in residence at The Mission Center; Chief Scientific Officer at Natera)
  • Jiangyang Zhao, Washington University, PhD candidate, expected graduation summer ’16)
  • Amit Balakrishnan, PhD
  • Alice Cheng
  • Nolin Huddleston


Women’s Bakery:

A social enterprise based in East Africa that trains women with nutrition, business, baking, and life skills to launch bakeries selling affordable, nutritious bread.

  • Markey Culver (Founder & Director; Washington University, MBA Candidate ’17)
  • Julie Greene (Co-Founder; East Africa Program Director)
  • Heather Newell (US Program Officer)
  • Meg North (East Africa Program Officer)
  • Aime Nshizirungu (Rwanda Training Manager)


Aerial Insights:

An integrated UAV data acquisition and analytics solution for utilities, agriculture and industrial uses.

  • Audrey MacKenzie (President/CEO; Washington University, EMBA ’14)
  • Harrison Knoll (Founder/CTO)
  • Zhiyong Yang (Senior Machine Learning Scientist)
  • Sebastian Weigand (CIO/Chief Architect)
  • Alex St. John (Chief Analytics Officer)
  • Zhang Zixu (UAV Operations Chief)


Chrona Sleep:

Chrona synchronizes the user’s brainwave activity using specialized low-frequency sounds to help the user sleep more deeply and to deliver more efficient rest.

  • Zim Hang (CEO; Washington University, BA ’14 Psychology)
  • Blake Sakran (Lead Engineer; Washington University, BS ’14 Biomedical Engineering, MS 15’ Electrical Engineering)
  • Shaun Vaidyan (Data Engineer; Washington University, BA ’14 Economics)


Over the next four months, finalists will work alongside their assigned mentors as they prepare their deliverables for the final event (pitch competition) in November.

The finalists are eager to get to work and learn from their mentors. Blake Marggraff, CEO of Epharmix and WashU alum ’15 Biology, shared what he is looking forward to: “My team and I are grateful and excited to have the chance to receive mentorship from some of Washington University’s most impactful and visionary alumni, and because the founding team of Epharmix comprises WUSTL graduates from Medicine, Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Business, and Art, we are truly honored that the Skandalaris Center has chosen to recognize our mission of supporting the health of the most medically underserved patients.”

The Skandalaris Center is thrilled to host the competition. Emre Toker, Manager Director of the Skandalaris Center, commented, “We are delighted to run the 3rd annual Global Impact Award (GIA), made possible by the generous donation of alumnus Suren G. Dutia and his wife, Jas K. Grewal.  The GIA is an outstanding opportunity for Washington University students, postdoctoral researchers, and recent alumni to create impactful new ventures, while forming the strongest possible community of support for past, present and future entrepreneurs”


Stay tuned throughout the summer for profiles on each of the GIA finalists!