November 29, 2010

Money awarded to researchers turning science into business

A Johns Hopkins researcher who designed a programmable vibrating wristband to treat neurological motor disorders has been awarded $50,000 to help in her quest to develop the product for market.

Cynthia F. Salorio, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a pediatric neuropsychologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, was chosen for the grant during the annual meeting of the Johns Hopkins Alliance for Science and Technology Development and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Commercial Advisory Board. Two dozen researchers from Johns Hopkins and UMB presented ideas that they hope can be translated from science into successful commercial products or businesses. A panel of judges, many of them business executives, chose the concepts that they found to be most promising.

Salorio’s device is intended to aid patients who have had an injury to their brain resulting in hemiplegia, a condition marked by severe motor deficits on one side of the body, and who also have a lack of full awareness of one side of the body. The device, called ArmAware, helps send signals to the brain and increase awareness of the affected arm. With few treatments for this condition, the simple noninvasive device is designed to help long-term function recovery following neurological damage.

UMB’s James Galen also won $50,000 in seed money. He is working on a vaccine against the deadly gastrointestinal disease caused by the Clostridium difficile bacteria.

The prize money came from the Maryland Biotech Center and the respective universities.

The Johns Hopkins Alliance for Science and Technology Development was formed five years ago as a way to aid Johns Hopkins faculty in commercializing their technological inventions. High-level business executives now sit on the board and offer assistance, from free advice to networking using their own Rolodexes or offering assistance in finding money to move projects forward.