2019 Cohort Teams

2019 Cohort Teams

2019 Cohort Teams


What is AAV Tx?

An auto-regulatory gene therapy that reduces adiposity for treatment-resistant monogenic obesity patients.

Team Contact

Lei Cao, PhD

The Ohio State University

The AAV Tx Team

Principal Investigator

Lei Cao, PhD, The Ohio State University

Entrepreneurial Leads

Nicholas Queen, The Ohio State University (pictured)

Dhvani Valia, Case Western Reserve University


Daria Fedyukina, PhD, BioHeights, (pictured)

Margaret Groh, Rev1 Ventures

Muyang Hu, Rev1 Ventures

AAV Tx’s Technology

Our team’s lead product is called rAAV1-BDNF. AAV-BDNF is a gene therapy with the potential to treat certain types of genetic obesity. The AAV vector delivers the BDNF gene to brain cells (hypothalamus), where the gene is transcribed and translated into the BDNF protein, a key component of the hypothalamic pathway, downstream of MC4Rand leptin pathways. Once the BDNF protein level reaches near-normal levels, its production is controlled by a regulatory element included in the rAAV1-BDNF construct.

Breathe Better, Inc.

What is Breathe Better?

A nasal aid that will redirect airflow to therapeutic zones for nasal obstruction patients with structural nasal cavity deviation to improve nasal breathing sensation who do not wish to undergo corrective surgery.

Team Contact

Kai Zhao, PhD

The Ohio State University

The Breathe Better Team

Principal Investigator

Kai Zhao, PhD, The Ohio State University

Entrepreneurial Lead

Kanghyun Kim, The Ohio State University


Prasad Nalluri

Breathe Better’s Technology

Our product is a nasal foam plug designed to relieve nasal obstruction symptoms in patients with non-allergy/sinusitis, which can be sold over-the-counter. Nasal obstruction is one of the most common medical conditions in the US, affecting an estimated 13% of adults, or some 30 million people. It accounts for 12.5 million physician office visits each year and an annual health expenditure of $5.8 billion. While some of the symptoms are due to inflammation in the nose which can be managed by medication, quite a large percentage of the symptoms are due to anatomical defects such as enlarged turbinates, deviated septum, narrow nasal airway or valve, collapsible nasal valve and other factors that may require expensive and invasive surgery. The nasal foam plug is simply a piece of cylindrical foam with a plastic tube, 5mm in diameter, embedded in diagonal direction within the foam (~45°to the axis) to re-direct airflow patterns.

GPN Therapeutics

What is GPN Therapeutics?

A topical drug/dressing combination to promote wound closure in chronic diabetic foot ulcers.

Team Contact

Fayez Safadi, PhD

Northeast Ohio Medical University

The GPN Therapeutics Team

Principal Investigator

Fayez Safadi, PhD, Northeast Ohio Medical University

Entrepreneurial Leads

Kevin Budge, Northeast Ohio Medical University

Nazar Hussein, Northeast Ohio Medical University


Elliot Reed, Northeast Ohio Medical University

GPN Therapeutics’s Technology

The target product is an anti-inflammatory protein therapy for either the treatment of chronic wound healing. Our technology (in collaboration with Dr. Min-Ho Kim at Kent State University) can be applied to the treatment of diabetic patients with lower-limb chronic, non-healing wounds who have not responded to first-line therapies and do not have blood circulation complications. The anticipated delivery would be via standard therapeutically enhanced wound dressing paired with recombinant GPNMB protein, or its derivative peptides included as a slow-release polymer. Alternatively, GPNMB or its derivative peptides could be used as a therapeutic cream to be used in place of existing growth factors to be applied topically to chronic wounds and covered with traditional hydrogel dressings. In addition, we identified several additional anti-inflammatory indications as possible therapeutic targets.

Neovascular Therapeutics

What is Neovascular Therapeutics?

CAR-NK cell therapy: Chimeric antigen receptor-engineered natural killer cell from patient’s own immune cells as a high efficacy, targeted therapy for advanced stage metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.

Team Contact

Zhiwei Hu, PhD

The Ohio State University

The Neovascular Therapeutics Team

Principal Investigator

Zhiwei Hu, PhD, The Ohio State University

Entrepreneurial Leads

Jakob Nypaver, The Ohio State University

Eva Hu, The Ohio State University

Hannah Ong, The Ohio State University


Dean Lee, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Neovascular Therapeutics’ Technology

Our novel chimeric antigen receptor-expressing T (CAR-T) and natural killer (CAR-NK) cell therapy (diagram shown on the left; PCT/US patent pending) can treat pathological angiogenesis-dependent malignant diseases, notably solid cancers and acute leukemia (AML and ALL), and has the potential to treat pathological angiogenesis-involved noncancerous diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, endometriosis and rheumatoid arthritis. This CAR therapy is designed to target tissue factor (TF), a cell surface receptor that is commonly, yet selectively, expressed in the malignant tumor neovasculature. TF is expressed in the cancer cells of a variety of solid cancers and leukemia, cancer stem cells, and in noncancerous conditions is selectively expressed in the neovasculature of the diseased lesions.


What is Optibone?

Non-invasive injectable scaffold for accelerated bone healing (50% faster than predicate).

Team Contact

Joshua Park, PhD

University of Toledo

The Optibone Team

Principal Investigator

Joshua Park, PhD, University of Toledo

Co-Principal Investigator

Dong-Shik Kim, PhD, University of Toledo

Entrepreneurial Lead

Abdullah Baawad, University of Toledo


Brian Genide, University of Toledo

Optibone’s Technology

Our injectable GAGR gel is designed to fit into any types of bone crack and fracture sites and enhance the formation of the bone and blood vessels (neovascularization helps bone formation) at injection sites at high efficacy within a short period time. GAGRgel is designed for the treatment of orthopedic patients with fractures and cracks in foot, ankle, long bone, joint, craniomaxillofacial, and other locations through non-invasive administration (syringe injection). GAGR gel consists of components that are already approved by FDA for their clinical applications as gel component for bone defect treatments.


What is Re.St.Les.?

Our minimally invasive intracranial electrode locates and ablates brain tissue suspected of causing seizures. This will allow neurosurgeons to more accurately plan surgeries that will treat seizures in epilepsy patients who cannot be helped with medication.

Team Contact

Erica Neumann

Cleveland Clinic

The Re.St.Les. Team

Principal Investigator

Jorge Alvaro Gonzalez-Martinez, Cleveland Clinic

Co-Principal Investigator

Ahmet Erdemir, PhD, Cleveland Clinic

Entrepreneurial Lead

Erica Neumann, Cleveland Clinic


Jon Sakai, Cleveland Clinic

Re.St.Les. Technology

The target product is a minimally invasive medical device that helps target diseased tissue in medically intractable epilepsy. Re.St.Les. intracranial electrodes are temporarily implanted into regions of the brain suspected of causing seizures. Each electrode has multiple tissue contact regions that have the capability to record brain activity, stimulate the brain, and lesion brain tissue through delivery of targeted energy to damage diseased brain tissue. The device will have a clinical workflow nearly identical to current neurosurgical devices and will give surgeons, patients and their families an additional tool in an effort to eliminate seizures.


What is BORNN?

Leveraging our expertise in nanomaterials, surface chemistry, and dispersion, BORNN rapidly develops formulations and provides testing services for composite manufacturers to ensure maximum performance of their products.

Team Contact

Geyou Ao, PhD

Cleveland State University

The BORNN Team

Principal Investigator

Geyou Ao, PhD, Cleveland State University

Entrepreneurial Leads

Michael Cantwell, Cleveland State University

Venkateswara Kode, Cleveland State University


Wei Fan, Momentive

BORNN’s Technology

Boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) are low-density, quasi-one-dimensional (1D), and high-aspect ratio nanomaterials with remarkable mechanical, optical, piezoelectric, chemical, and thermal properties. It is also one of the most promising material candidates for producing high-performance materials designed for usage at elevated temperatures and hazardous environments such as protective shielding for aerospace, high-performance clothing, non-oxidizing and corrosion resistant paints, and lightweight composites. Our team is developing liquid phase processing of BNNTs, including dispersion, purification, and macroscopic assembly of nanotubes to realize advanced technological applications of BNNTs, focusing on producing aligned films and fibers.

E-Tech (Enabling Technologies)

What is E-Tech?

Self-Leveling Walker: A walking aid for individuals who have difficulties with steps to get independently in and out of their home safely.

Team Contact

Stephanie Nogan Bailey

Case Western

Frank Zitko

Cleveland VA Medical Center

The E-Tech Team

Principal Investigator

Ron Triolo, PhD, Case Western Reserve University

Entrepreneurial Leads

Stephanie Nogan Bailey, Case Western

Frank Zitko, Cleveland VA Medical Center


Walid Jalabi, Case Western

Wayne Hawthorne, Case Western

Judy Kovacs

Matthias Schmidt-Bonath

E-Tech’s Technology

People who are walker-dependent often confront curbs, steps and ramps that they are unable to negotiate. Our Self-Leveling Walker (SLW) addresses the limitations of conventional walking aids. Our walker adjusts the length of the walker needed to navigate stairs and uneven surfaces when a button is released. The device performs like a standard walker on level surfaces. Use of our novel device will increase independence for patients recovering from an injury, so they can be less of a burden on their family and friends and reduce worry from their clinicians about their safety. The rehabilitation professionals we interviewed at 14 different institutions confirmed the value the device would have to their patients and therapy staff members.

NP@OSU (Natural Products@OSU)

What is NP@OSU?

Development of a Novel Business Model for Commercialization of University-Developed Microorganisms, Natural Products, and Methods.

Team Contact

Christopher Taylor, PhD

The Ohio State University

The NP@OSU Team

Principal Investigator

Christopher Taylor, PhD, The Ohio State University

Entrepreneurial Leads

Rebecca Kimmelfield, The Ohio State University

Edwin Navarro, The Ohio State University

Ram Khadka, The Ohio State University

Daowen Huo, The Ohio State University


Shauna Brummet, PhD

Subramanian Kumarappan

Bruce Caldwell

Jay Dahlman

NP@OSU’s Technology

We are proposing to develop a novel business model that will better link research institutions with industry through the development of a university-based LLC. The new company will streamline the processes that connect institutional researchers with industry, reducing the time it takes for companies to identify potential collaborators, access university capabilities (assays, testing, field trials, etc.), license technology (patentable or not) and promote closer interactions between researchers and industry partners. The LLC would initially develop a database of useful microorganisms, natural products, and research capabilities from OSU laboratories, then engage companies to access the database for potential product/technology leads and faculty researcher engagement.

Ohio Construction Composites

What is Ohio Construction Composites?

Composite materials for decking applications using pulverized coal as the filler material in a thermoplastic matrix. This significantly reduces cost and improves the quality of decking composites.

Team Contact

Jason Trembly

Ohio University

The Ohio Construction Composites Team

Principal Investigator

Jason Trembly, Ohio University

Entrepreneurial Leads

Clive Chirume, Ohio University

Yahya Al-Majali, Ohio University


Ron Lachey, TechGROWTH

Ohio Construction Composites’ Technology

The technology consists of intimately mixing pulverized coal with thermal plastic resin and other components to form coal plastic composite (CPC) materials, which can be used in a host of commercial applications which employ engineered composites. Engineered composites are used in many high-volume applications including building materials (i.e., decking), automotive, and electrical sectors. Typically engineered composites are made of wood plastic composite (WPC) materials. Coal is an attractive composite filler, as it is less costly than wood flour (0.005-.021 $/lb vs 0.012 $/lb) and is not subject to the issues associated with wood (water absorption, fungal attack, etc.).

Point Prognostics

What is Point Prognostics?

A software for accurate Condition Forecasting & Failure Prediction to optimize maintenance schedules for equipment in Oil & Gas sector. This prevents unexpected shutdowns and pre-mature repair, thereby reducing losses.

Team Contact

Mrinal Kumar, PhD

The Ohio State University

The Point Prognostics Team

Principal Investigator

Mrinal Kumar, PhD, The Ohio State University

Entrepreneurial Leads

Rachit Aggarwal, The Ohio State University

Antaraa Anandan, The Ohio State University


Mike Downing

Point Prognostics’ Technology

We offer a software solution in the form of a robust, scalable computational platform for system prognostics and predictive analytics. The platform delivers trustworthy forecasts in terms of “quantities of interest”, as established by the client and learns improved process models with the accumulation of system data over time and employs these models to accurately quantify uncertainty in its future evolution. Our approach is designed to monitor its own performance and adaptively modify its constitution to maintain the estimate of above mentioned system-specific quantities of interest within prescribed bounds at all times.

TEHPS (Technology Enhanced Human Patient Simulations)

What is TEHPS?

Pattern recognition to facilitate interactive learning of EMS skills for firefighters and paramedics.

Team Contact

William Matcham, PhD

Cleveland State University

The TEHPS Team

Principal Investigator

William Matcham, PhD, Cleveland State University

Co-Principal Investigator

Wenbing Zhao, PhD, Cleveland State University 

Entrepreneurial Lead

Zavier McLean, Cleveland State University


Dan Rockwell, Big Kitty Labs

TEHPS’ Technology

HPS is a training and feedback method in which learners practice tasks and processes in lifelike circumstances using models, with feedback from observers, peers, actor patients, and video cameras to assist improvement in skills. While HPS has been widely adopted in nursing programs in the US, its effectiveness is severely handicapped by the lack of reliable and efficient methods to provide objective assessment and feedback to students. The expansion of high-fidelity HPS use in schools is limited due to the extremely high cost of equipment, the need for multiple specially trained staff to program the simulators and run each simulation. Our technology could close the evaluation gap and reduce the need for additional staff members by automatically recognizing the complex human activities in HPS, which reduces cost, standardizes expectations and could improve student learning.

VEM Test (Viscoelastic Material Test)

What is VEM Test?

A unified high-tech testing device which help tire companies to sell tires with higher wet traction.

Team Contact

Siamak Farhad, PhD

University of Akron

The VEM Test Team

Principal Investigator

Siamak Farhad, PhD, University of Akron

Entrepreneurial Lead

Roja Esmaeeli, University of Akron


Jahan Ghaznavi

VEM Test’s Technology

Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA) device is a measurement device to study and improve the behavior of viscoelastic materials such as rubbers, and other polymer materials. Most of the characteristics of polymer products, such as tires, shock absorbers, coatings, and so forth, have been improved using comparison of materials developed in research labs using the DMA device. We, for the first time, built a new DMA test device that can measure the viscoelastic material properties directly and accurately at frequencies more than 200 Hz, based on the codes/standards accepted by researchers/engineers in the field. If this new DMA is used, it will be possible to improve the polymer properties for applications that the polymer is contracted & expanded at frequencies more than 200 Hz.

2019 Cohort Teams