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LEAP Inventor Challenge Awards Five WashU Research Teams

February 19, 2018

Five Washington University in St. Louis research teams have been selected to receive funding as part of the Fall 2017 cycle of the Leadership in Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program, better known as the LEAP Inventor Challenge (LEAP).

LEAP exists to propel Washington University intellectual property towards commercialization. The money that teams win helps fund their early stage research so that they can turn their concepts and ideas into viable products and services. The competition supports all Washington University faculty, postdoc, staff and graduate student teams.

The Fall 2017 winning teams include:


Absorbable Negative Pressure Wound Closure Device

This project is an absorbable, vacuum-sealing biomaterial for complex wounds to speed patients’ healing without returning to the operating room.


  • Anna N. Miller, MD, FACS, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery; Chief of Orthopedic Trauma Service
  • Farshid Guilak, PhD, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery; Director of Research for The Shriners Hospitals for Children – St. Louis Shriners; Co-Director of the Center of Regenerative Medicine; appointments in the Departments of Developmental Biology and Biomedical Engineering


3D Graphene-Based Nanocomposite Assemblies for Next Generation Water Treatment Membranes

This project is a unique, three-dimensional graphene oxide (GO) nanoscale composites as multifunctional, self-assembling, platform materials for advanced water treatment membranes.


  • John Fortner, PhD, InCEES Career Development Associate Professor, School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Pratim Biswas, PhD, Assistant Vice Chancellor & Department Chair, Lucy & Stanley Lopata Professor, School of Engineering and Applied Science


Targeting type III interferon for the treatment of multiple sclerosis

This project is a potential new biomarker of progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) that, when targeted, can prevent axonal injury and disease progression from autoimmune attack of the brain and spinal cord in an animal model of MS.


  • Robyn S. Klein, MD, PhD, Vice Provost; Associate Dean for Graduate Education; Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences; Director, Center for Neuroimmunology & Neuroinfectious Diseases; Professor of Medicine, Pathology & Immunology, Neuroscience


Novel Treatment of Fatty Liver Disease

This project seeks to revolutionize NAFLD treatment by selectively targeting a key nutrient sensor in the liver with a novel patentable small molecule inhibitor.


  • Paul W. Hruz, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Endocrinology and Diabetes; Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Cell Biology & Physiology
  • Brian DeBosch, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Cell Biology & Physiology


Re-inventing Arterial Blood Gas Measurements

This project is a new medical device that performs laboratory tests without needing to draw blood.


  • Abraham Qavi, MD, PhD, PSTP, Clinical Pathology
  • Lan Yang, MS, PhD, Edwin H. & Florence G. Skinner Professor, School of Engineering and Applied Science


Several university departments work together on LEAP to maximize industry engagement and funding opportunities. Such facilitators include the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Skandalaris), the Office of Technology Management (OTM), the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS), and the Center for Drug Discovery (CDD).



Think you have what it takes? Apply for the next cycle of the LEAP Inventor Challenge through the Skandalaris Center.