U researchers win UTAG grants

University of Utah researchers have won six of the 20 University Technology Acceleration Grants (UTAG), a program that provides crucial funds to accelerate university-developed technologies from the idea stage to the market. The group is the first round of UTAG winners, funded by the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative.

Among the U’s winners are biochemist Danny Chou, bioinformatician Alistair Ward and pharmaceutical chemist Shawn Owen.

Here are some of the details of the U winners:

• Danny Hung-Chieh Chou, assistant professor, Department of Biochemistry

Chou’s research focuses on developing proteins and peptides therapies for patients with Type I Diabetes and other diseases. The UTAG award allows Chou and collaborators to study a specialized insulin from marine cone snails and its effect on an animals’ ability to regulate blood glucose levels.

Contact: dchou@biochem.utah.edu

• Alistair Ward, director, Research & Science, Eccles Institute of Human Genetics, senior developer, USTAR Center for Genetic Discovery

Ward is part of a team that builds interactive tools for analyzing genomic data on the “cloud.” The award will help develop a series of apps that use visualizations and return results in real-time, which will allow clinicians to explore big data without the need for an expert computer scientist.

Contact: alistairnward@gmail.com

• Shawn Owen, assistant professor, Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Owen and collaborators are developing a rapid diagnostic platform to detect important biomarkers using a novel split-enzyme system. Support from UTAG will facilitate their team’s work to construct and validate assays for clinical use.

Contact: shawn.owen@hsc.utah.edu