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Messages from the Executive Vice President

December 18, 2013

Spark Grant Recipients Named

I am pleased to announce the recipients of the Health Center’s first Spark Grants, which aim to help investigators move ideas into the earliest stages of commercialization and development.

Eleven thoughtful proposals competed in the final round for startup funding. A distinguished selection committee which included Health Center faculty leaders, entrepreneurs and senior executives from top pharmaceutical, biotechnological and venture capital firms was impressed by the science and innovation conveyed in all eleven presentations. The committee enthusiastically selected the following six awardees:

  • Drs. Linda Shapiro and Jiyeon Kim: Universally accepted, stem cell-derived products for transplant therapy without general immune suppression
  • Drs. J. Robert Kelly and Douglas Adams: Artificial salivary pump/gland concept
  • Dr. Pramod Srivastava, principal investigator, together with co-investigators Drs. Angela Kueck, Fei Duan, Ion Mandoiu and collaborator, Dr. Sahar Al Seesi: Oncoimmune, a tumor-specific immunotherapy for the treatment of stage III/IV ovarian cancer
  • Drs. Anthony Vella and Adam Adler: Two-headed immunotherapy
  • Drs. Keith Gibson and Jeffrey Gross: Hypobaric oxygenation during cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Dr. Kevin Claffey, principal investigator, together with co-investigators Drs. Ann Cowan, Mitch McGee, David Han and Quing Zhu: Validation of human breast immunological target based upon patient-derived sentinel node antibody characterization

Congratulations to all the recipients. These projects are a first step toward the Health Center’s goal to “become a world renowned destination for discovery and innovation”—one of the goals in UConn Health 2020. We look forward to providing updates about these projects as they move forward.


Frank M. Torti
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UConn School of Medicine