Four UCI Faculty Receive POP Grants for Their Innovations

Making Waves
April 6, 2021 By Jackie Connor

Four UC Irvine (UCI) faculty members received Proof of Product (POP) Grants for their innovations that demonstrate commercialization potential. The POP Grants program is a program that, through UCI Beall Applied Innovation, accelerates the development of UCI’s commercially promising technologies. Faculty and researchers can receive grants up to $100,000 to develop their innovation’s commercial viability.

Dr. Ichiro Yuki, associate clinical professor of Neurosurgery at UCI’s School of Medicine, received a POP Grant of $97,800 to develop an injectable liquid material that can help seal off tiny abnormal brain vessels. His startup company AquaTex, a Wayfinder team, aims to improve treatment for neurovascular diseases, like strokes and tumors. The team began their startup journey through the I-Corps program, a National Science Foundation market discovery program available at Applied Innovation.

“I-Corps was a very good introduction to entrepreneurship and immediately after, we joined Wayfinder. It really expanded our knowledge,” said Yuki.

His team plans to conduct a preclinical evaluation of the material design, compare it to other liquid embolic materials in the market and assess their material’s performance and bio-compatibility.

Matthew Blurton-Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurobiology and Behavior in the School of Biological Sciences, received a POP grant of $98,888 for his technology that focuses on patient-specific cell therapy for a deadly genetic disease that impairs the function of microglia, the brain’s primary immune cells. Blurton-Jones plans to utilize the funds toward preclinical production and testing of the engineered cells to treat the disease for which no therapy currently exists.

Dr. Ralph Clayman, distinguished professor of Urology at the School of Medicine, also received a POP grant for about $72,000 for his technology, which seeks to improve ureteroscopy, a procedure that examines the upper urinary tract and is used for the removal of ureteral and kidney stones. His team aims to develop a ureteroscope that would have the ability to remove all kidney stone fragments that are less than 2 millimeters wide. According to Clayman, today, nearly half of patients treated with ureteroscopy will have residual kidney stone fragments after the procedure. His technology aims to render the kidney truly stone free.

“The POP grant has empowered and energized our work in this area. I am optimistic that given the great partnership we have with CalIT2 and the School of Engineering, within six months we will have a working prototype,” said Clayman. “This work has the potential to vastly improve surgical outcomes for all patients with kidney stones.”

Clayman plans to use the funds to work with the Henry Samueli School of Engineering to construct the new ureteroscope.

Science, technology, engineering and math schools are not the only ones receiving POP Grants. Jesse Colin Jackson, associate dean of research and innovation at Claire Trevor School of the Arts, also received a POP Grant and plans to use it to develop his Marching Cubes artwork into a product. Working with the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the School of Education, Jackson will be developing a magnetized construction toy that allows 3D assembly as well as giving the appearance of fluid interactivity, when compared to other more linear construction toys, like Legos. Additionally, Jackson will be joining the I-Corps program this spring to further investigate the Marching Cube’s commercialization potential.

Learn more about the POP Grants program.

Main Graphic: Kate Wokowsky, UCI Beall Applied Innovation

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