Grant funding for life science, bioscience projects

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Six collaborations between higher education institutions and companies are receiving grant funding to help address unmet health care needs and drive economic growth.

Governor Ralph Northam announced the Virginia Catalyst awards on Monday. This is $3.3 million in grants to six life science and bioscience collaborations.

According to a release, these grants will fund projects that have the potential to significantly improve human health and create high-value jobs, accelerate the commercialization of inventions and discoveries at Virginia universities, and strengthen the Commonwealth's competitive advantage in life sciences research.

“As a pediatric neurologist, I recognize that better treatments for cancer start with advancements in life science research,” said Northam. “Virginia Catalyst is driving this progress, strengthening scientific collaboration and enabling the Commonwealth to compete on a national scale. Virginia has deployed $70 million in grants that leveraged another $650 million in follow-on funding to accelerate science and technology-based research, development, and commercialization.”

Virginia Catalyst, previously known as the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation, is funded by the General Assembly and several higher education institutions across the Commonwealth.

Mike Grisham, CEO of Virginia Catalyst, says recipients must find industry partners to invest matching funds in their projects to advance life science and create jobs.

Several of these grants involve the University of Virginia.
One of them is through the company CytoRecovery, Inc., located in Blacksburg, which is working on a microsystem for label-free separation and recovery of tumor-associated cells from biopsies. This $400,000 grant is going to UVA and Virginia Tech.

Another involves commercializing a treatment for metastatic cancers, which is being developed with InterLeukin Combinatorial Therapies, Inc. in Richmond. This grant is for $700,000 for UVA and Virginia Commonwealth University.

A third is designing and implementing green, enzymatic biofungicides for pre- and post-harvest crop protection through Lytos Technologies, LLC in Charlottesville. UVA and Virginia Tech are receiving $500,000 for this collaboration.

Another involves an automated 3-D spinal navigation system for bedside lumbar puncture procedures with the company RIVANNA in Charlottesville. UVA and VCU are getting $800,000 for this project.

Two other projects are also receiving funding.

One involves protein painting of PD-1/PD-L1 to help with the discovery of immune checkpoint inhibitors for the treatment of lung cancer and brain metastasis with the Nokesville company Monet Pharmaceuticals. Virginia Tech and George Mason University are getting $400,000 for this project.

And Richmond-based Tympanogen is working to develop an applicator and training simulator for a gel patch for nonsurgical eardrum repair with Eastern Virginia Medical School and VCU. This grant is for $500,000.

This is the tenth round of funding from the nonprofit, which has awarded 43 grants totaling $20 million since 2013. The release says this funding has resulted in more than $34 million in matching funds and an additional $163 million in follow-on funding.

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