Announcing Ignition Award Winners for 2015

The Office of Technology Development completed its 6th annual Ignition Award cycle and we are pleased to announce this year’s winners.  The Ignition Program awards $50K, one-year grants to faculty of Boston University and Boston Medical Center to validate early-stage technologies and enable follow-on funding. The Ignition Award Program was initiated to help bridge the gap between government funded, basic research and product development activities undertaken by commercial or non-profit entities. Awards are made in the domains of Life Sciences, Medtech, and Physical Sciences. Proposals must demonstrate potential for commercial, medical, and/or societal impact.  An external committee (made up of business executives, investors, and others) with domain expertise in each area was recruited to judge proposals and recommend awards.

OTD received a higher number of applications this year and made a total of 11 awards: 5 in Life Sciences, 3 in Medtech, and 3 in Physical Sciences. The next Ignition cycle will begin with Pre-proposal applications due in the Fall (October, 2015). Stronger Pre-proposals will be invited to submit Full-Proposals. Applicants present their Full-Proposals to the Ignition Committee and award decisions are announced (March, 2016). More details on BU’s Ignition Program can be found here. Following is a brief description of the 2015 Ignition awardees.

Life Sciences:

  • Tony Godfrey, PhD (Associate Professor of Surgery) will develop a next generation sequencing platform that enables ultrasensitive detection of genetic mutations for use in novel cancer and other diagnostics.
  • Wilson Wong, PhD (Assistant Professor, BME) will validate proof-of-concept for a novel chimeric antigen receptor platform for immunotherapy.
  • Lindsay Farrer, PhD (Professor, Biomedical Genetics) will generate pilot data on plexin-A4 isoform levels in brain, which may serve as a therapeutic target and development of a biomarker assay for Alzheimer disease
  • Hui Feng, MD/PhD (Assistant Professor, Pharmacology & Medicine) will validate novel molecular antagonists of DLST in both in vitro and in vivo preclinical models to develop novel treatments for MYC-driven cancers
  • Robert Lafyatis, MD (Professor of Medicine) will develop a serum biomarker panel to diagnose systemic sclerosis patients that have developed complications, such as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and interstitial lung disease (ILD).


  • Mark Grinstaff, PhD (Professor, Chemistry & BME) will conduct in vivo testing of paclitaxel-loaded nanoparticles in a resection model of intraperitoneal mesothelioma as well as conduct a pharmacokinetic/biodistribution study.
  • Jerome Mertz, PhD (Professor, BME) will demonstrate proof-of-concept on a novel, speckle-free ultrasound imaging modality for biomedical applications, called oblique backscattering ultrasound (OBUS) imaging.
  • Allyn Hubbard, PhD (Professor, BME & ECE) will develop a wearable device with acoustic sensors that perform remote monitoring of heart and lung sounds in congestive heart failure patients.

Physical Sciences:

  • David Bishop, PhD (Professor, ECE, MSE, & Physics) will be developing smarter, more efficient lighting using low cost MEMS micromirrors.
  • Linda Doerrer, PhD (Associate Professor, Chemistry) has developed chemical methods to eliminate excess nitrates present in raw sewage in order to treat waterways affected by harmful algal blooms.
  • Enrico Bellotti, PhD (Professor, ECE, MSE) will create high-sensitivity imagers that will dramatically reduce size, weight, power and cost of solid-state photodetectors by reducing dark currents.

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