Basic training

If there was ever a place for the lab rat to shine, this was it. At a UChicagoTech event Friday afternoon, basic-science faculty, students, and researchers presented posters showing how their studies could lead to commercially viable products. Viewers, participants, and judges packed the BSLC lobby, noshing on biscotti and perusing tacked-up posters such as Fighting Fire with Fire: A Model of Antagonism between Spontaneous and Epileptic Form Acuity in Neocortical Networking.

In Fighting Fire, computational-neuroscience grad student Michael Carroll installed a flat-screen on the poster to display a colorful computer model of brain cells. As Carroll, in jeans and a ponytail, explained to one of two judges from consulting firm RPX Group, his team's research could lead to a new method to control epileptic seizures for people who don't respond to medication, in a way less intrusive than electrical brain stimulators.

"Would you and your team be interested in commercialization?" the judge asked. "Sure, yeah, I guess," Carroll answered. "I mean, I'm just a student."

The event, called From Bench to Bedside, was meant to show basic-science researchers that their work has practical applications—and that the University can help realize those uses, said UChicagoTech staff member Matt Clark. The office, formerly called ARCH and UCTech, used to pick a few projects a year to create start-up companies. Now the technology-and-intellectual-property staff hopes to encourage more patents "even for something as small as an antibody" a researcher discovers.

"This is a showcase for exciting work taking place," Clark said. "It's neat for other people in the research community to see what's going on." All 24 posters, he said, represented projects that UChicagoTech has already worked with "or would be very interested in." In addition to the two consultants, an investment banker and UChicagoTech Director Alan Thomas judged the posters and named three winners (see below), who received $500, $250, and $125, respectively.


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Photos (left to right): First-place winner Lucy Godley stands by her poster, Cell Characterization Using Chemically Functionalized Pores; Second-place winner Katinka Vigh and her poster, Allergy Profiling With Protein Arrays; and third-place winners Nancy L. Stein and Marc W. Hernandez and their poster, Making the Invisible Visible: Elementary School Children Learning about Thermodynamics.

Photos courtesy UChicagoTech.

March 7, 2007