HCN News & Notes

UMass Amherst Announces Six Winners of Inaugural Manning/IALS Seed Grants

AMHERST — Peter Reinhart, director of the Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS) at UMass Amherst, announced that six campus research teams have been named recipients of the first Manning/IALS Seed Grants. The awards will support next steps in their research, such as proof-of-concept studies, business development, and fundamental research into new products, technologies, and services to benefit human health and well-being.

Earlier this year, alumnus Paul Manning and his wife, Diane, committed $1 million through their family foundation to establish the Manning Innovation Program, which provides three years of support in advancing a robust and sustainable pipeline of applied and translational research projects from UMass Amherst.

The seed grants were awarded after a competitive process that narrowed 35 teams to six winners. Faculty researchers will receive not only seed funding of $100,000 each over three years, but also business training and mentorship from IALS, the College of Natural Sciences, the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Isenberg School of Management, among others.

The winning team leaders and their projects include Derek Lovley, microbiology, “Fabricating Protein Nanowires for Unique Sensing Capabilities”; Jeanne Hardy, chemistry, “Development of Potent Zika Virus Protease Inhibitors”; S. “Thai” Thayumanavan, chemistry, and Steve Faraci, “Pre-clinical Efficacy Evaluation of Liver-targeted, Thyromimetic-encapsulated IntelliGels for the Treatment of Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis”; Neil St. John Forbes, chemical engineering, “Bacterial Delivery of Therapeutic Peptides to Treat Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma”; Shelly Peyton, chemical engineering, “GelTech to Enable Tissue-specific Drug Discovery and Help Eliminate Potential False-positive Hits from Screening”; and Madalina Fiterau Brostean, computer science, “4Thought: Unlocking Insights into Your Mental Health.”

The Manning Foundation’s gift provides an investment in UMass Amherst as a partner of choice in advancing and applying knowledge and innovation for the betterment of society.

“The Manning/IALS Innovation Program provides much-needed support allowing promising UMass Amherst research programs to move toward translational technology, prototypes, and product candidates,” said Peter Reinhart, founding director of IALS. “This in turn will facilitate follow-on investments from venture organizations such as the Maroon Fund.”