The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) has selected eight teams of inventors to receive annual Maturation Funding. Each team will receive $15,000 to assist in further developing the technology to improve positioning for licensing and commercialization.

“UTRF is pleased to provide maturation grants to accelerate the development of these eight inventions,” UTRF Interim President Dick Gourley said. “The quality of the ideas submitted from across the state shows the vibrancy of the University of Tennessee research enterprise and the potential for UT innovations to improve the lives of Tennesseans.”

Recipients awarded by the UTRF Health Science Center office include:

• Michio Kurosu, Ph.D. and Joy Debnath, Ph.D., UT Health Science Center, for novel pharmaceuticals to treat drug resistant Gram-positive bacteria, including Mycobacteria tuberculosis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Enterococcus faecalis;

• Monica M. Jablonski, Ph.D., Mallika Palamoor, Ph.D., and Huiling Li, Ph.D., UT Health Science Center, for nanoparticles to provide sustained-release drug delivery in the eye;

• Hasaan Almoazen, Ph.D., Catherine Crill, PharmD, Gretchen Potts, Ph.D., and Richard Helms, PharmD, UT Health Science Center, for a transdermal patch to replace parenteral delivery of micronutrients;

• Denis Diangelo, Ph.D., UT Health Science Center, for a dynamic brace to treat lower-back pain without restricting movement.


Recipients awarded by the UTRF Multi-Disciplinary office include:

• Jayne Wu, Ph.D., and Shigetoshi Eda, Ph.D., UT Knoxville and UT Institute for Agriculture, for a portable diagnostic that provides rapid on-site detection of infectious diseases and physiological conditions;

• Ying-Ling Ann Chen, Ph.D., Lei Shi, M.S., and J.W.L. Lewis, Ph.D., UT Space Institute, for clinical trial of a low-cost, high-quality and user-friendly, vision assessment tool for children and young adults;

• William Hofmeister, Ph.D., Lino Costa, Ph.D., and Alexander Terekhov, M.S., UT Space Institute, for novel electrodes for high-energy density super-capacitors;

• Mingjun Zhang, Ph.D., Scott Lenaghan, Ph.D., and Neal Stewart, Ph.D., UT Knoxville and UT Institute of Agriculture, for automated high-throughput nanoparticle manufacturing using English Ivy; the nanoparticles can be used for a variety of applications, such as sunscreens and high-strength, weather-resistant adhesives.

A total of 44 proposals were submitted from the University of Tennessee’s four campuses and three institutes. The selection process included evaluation of three key areas: (1) demonstration of a path for commercial development, (2) market potential, and (3) stage of development.

As part of the award process, UTRF will receive interim and final reports from the researchers that will describe increased knowledge and improvements in the subject technology. This information is expected to assist UTRF in better positioning the technologies for licensing.

Since the Maturation Funding Program was initiated in 2007, more than $600,000 has been awarded to nearly 50 projects.

A call for submissions for next year’s Maturation Funding Program will be announced in October 2012.

The University of Tennessee Research Foundation is an independent 501(c)3 organization that promotes research and the commercialization of technologies from the University of Tennessee.

The organization is headquartered in Knoxville and includes a Health Science Center office in Memphis. UTRF Administrative Offices Multi-Disciplinary Office: UT Conference Center, Suite 211, 600 Henley Street, Knoxville, TN 37996 Health Science Center Office: 910 Madison Avenue, Suite 827, Memphis, TN 38163