Asthma – one of the world’s most common diseases – affects hundreds of millions of people across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. And although doctors properly diagnose and prescribe medication to manage the disease, there is not a way to accurately assess medication use and, therefore, efficacy in patients.
NOWA Innovations, a Wayfinder startup whose intellectual property from UCI is based on decades of research and millions of dollars in grant money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has the answer.
“The main reason why people’s asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – or COPD – worsens or leads to death is because it’s not managed correctly,” said Nasam Chokr, CEO of NOWA Innovations.
NOWA Innovations’ noninvasive solution, Unaresp™, detects both inhaled medication concentrations in the body and trains patients to properly inhale those medications, which leads to improved treatment outcomes.
The startup has garnered so much excitement from higher education associations that they were recently invited to present to members of Congress, federal agency officials and government relations officers at the 2019 University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Showcase in Washington, D.C. As one of just 20 invitees from across the country and the only invitee from the UC system – and, in fact, the only startup from the West Coast – NOWA Innovations shared with lawmakers the importance of federally funded research by showing how they have used these funds to progress university-based research for the betterment of the public. Additionally, the team expressed the severity of chronic respiratory diseases and the need for revolutionizing care.
Lead mechanical engineer and co-founder at NOWA Innovations Michael Nguyen and Chokr took advantage of their trip to the Capital to meet one-on-one with members of the U.S. House from California and to represent UC Irvine, UCI Applied Innovation and Southern California’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Hill visits included stops at the offices of Rep. Lou Correa of the 46th district, Rep. Katie Porter of the 45th district and Rep. Ami Bera of the 7th district.
“It was great to be a part of the rush of Capitol Hill and to sit down with the representatives, knowing that what I was saying to them was going to affect the decisions they make and what they support,” said Chokr. “Being able to influence people with a lot of power made me feel proud of the work we’ve accomplished and further ignited my passion for helping others.”
NOWA Innovations’ next step is to apply for an NIH Small Business Innovative Research grant later this year to further develop their prototype device.
Learn more about NOWA Innovations here.
*Featured Photo courtesy of: NOWA Innovations.
Pictured: Michael Nguyen (lead mechanical engineer) and Nasam Chokr (CEO).