Five years ago, the UM Office of Research and Economic Development piloted a one-time funding program designed to enhance the University’s research discoveries by moving them further down the commercialization pipeline. From the projects funded under the program, numerous patent applications and license agreements resulted, as well as the raising of more than $1 million in research funding and investment capital. Due to this success, the Vice-President for Research and Economic Development committed $500,000 for a second round of funding under the FastTrack program with up to $50,000 available per proposal to support prospects from each of the UM campuses.

Funding under this program is to allow recipients to focus on development, testing, prototype construction or specific market research, which may lead to industry collaboration, licensing, the formation of a new company, or the abandonment of the technology for commercial application.

Inventors from the University of Missouri-St. Louis submitted 15 proposals to FastTrack II, the second-most submitted of the four UM campuses. The proposals represented a wide range of technologies and inventions and departments including chemistry, biology, optometry, fine arts, gerontology, and more. More than 70 proposals submitted to the UM System from the four campuses; with $500,000 available, 13 were funded including three from UMSL:

  • Dr. George W. Gokel, Distinguished Professor & Director of the Center for Nanoscience
    Collaborators: Jason Atkins, Research Associate, Center for Nanoscience; and Mohit Patel, Research Associate, Center for Nanoscience
    Award Amount: $50,000
    Project Title: “Novel, non-toxic and highly efficient chemical transformation and transfection reagents”
    Description:  Development of a new, inexpensive and non-toxic method to help DNA cross the membrane barrier so that cells can be modified.

  • Dr. Edward S. Jarka, Clinical Assistant Professor and Chief of the Eye Health Management Service, College of Optometry
    Collaborator: Michael Howe, Senior Research Engineering Technician, College of Optometry
    Award Amount: $42,000
    Project Title: “A Hand-held Meibomian Gland Warmer and Expressor”
    Description: Treatment for Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), a common, unpleasant chronic condition affecting nearly 40% of routine eye care patients and approximately half of all contact lens wearers.

  • Dr. Michael R. Nichols, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
    Collaborator: Dr. Alexei Demchenko, Professor, Department of Chemistry
    Award Amount: $39,900
    Project Title: “Development and Testing of an Endotoxin Antagonist Compound”
    Description: Investigation of a new compound as a potential theraupeutic treatment for Sepsis, a potentially deadly medical condiation, and the inflammatory component of Alzheimer’s Disease.