Skandalaris Center

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Spring 2018: LEAP Inventor Challenge Awards 6 Research Teams

June 13, 2018

Six Washington University in St. Louis research teams have been selected to receive funding as part of the Spring 2018 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 competition supports all Washington University faculty, postdoc, staff and graduate student teams. Finalists are selected based on feedback from domain experts. They receive funding to help progress their early stage research from concepts and ideas to viable products and services.

The Spring 2018 finalists include:


Epigenetic therapy for Huntington’s disease

Developing compounds targeting DNA methyltransferases as a treatment for Huntington’s disease.


  • Hiroko Yano, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery, Neurology and Genetics


Ultrasound for Better Outcomes

A sensor technology that improves both the spatial resolution and depth of penetration of conventional ultrasound instruments.


  • Lan Yang, PhD, Edwin H. & Florence G. Skinner Professor
  • Abraham Qavi, MD, PhD, Resident Physician
  • Yihang Li, PhD Candidate, McDonnell Scholar
  • Guangming Zhao, PhD Candidate


Host directed metabolic therapy for TB

Re-purposing an existing drug to treat Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the world’s leading infectious disease killer.


  • Jennifer Philips, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Division of Infectious Diseases


Quantitative nanoscale imaging of biomolecules and drugs

SILK-SIMS quantitatively images biomolecules, drugs, and cellular features at nanometer resolution.



Virulence system of gram-negative enterobacteria as a therapeutic target

The project focuses upon a new therapeutic candidate that selectively prevents pathogenic bacteria from causing disease while sparing beneficial microbes.


  • Jeffrey P. Henderson, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology, Division of Infectious Diseases, Center for Women’s Infectious Diseases


Drug therapy for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (ATD)

Repurposing drug combinations for treatment of alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (ATD) – the most common genetic cause of pediatric liver disease.


  •  Stephen C. Pak, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Newborn Medicine


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.