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SPARS Manages Peer Review for Science Center's QED Program Proof-of-Concept Proposals

Science Center

A portable, radiation-free, breast-scanning device, about the size of a calculator is poised to bring successful breast cancer screening to women for whom screening has been unavailable or inaccurate. A handheld, non-invasive device that monitors wound healing could give patients with difficult-to-heal chronic (e.g., diabetes-associated) wounds faster and more effective treatment.

In Summer 2009, SPARS managed a peer review of proof-of-concept proposals that included these two devices. After the review, these two projects were selected to each receive a $200,000 award in the inaugural cycle of the University City Science Center's QED Proof-of-Concept Program. In the second half of 2010, they each secured licensing--moving science out of the lab and into the marketplace--thus, proving the concept of the QED program.

QED stands for "Quod Erat Demonstrandum," Latin for "that which is demonstrated." The QED program seeks proof-of-concept proposals from investigators at select academic research organizations in the Greater Philadelphia Region. Its goal is to channel existing regional resources to early-stage life science R&D projects helping them along toward commercialization. The program - the first multi-institutional proof-of-concept program for life sciences technologies in the nation - is designed to bridge the gap, called "the valley of death," between academic research and commercial development by providing scientists with guidance from experienced regional entrepreneurs, feedback from regional investors, and funding to demonstrate proof-of-concept.

Since its launch in April 2009, the QED program has offered three funding cycles and has screened nearly 180 proposals. SPARS has peer-reviewed the 30 selected proposals for the three cycles. Six awards have gone to scientists at Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The program is currently preparing to fund three more proposals from the most recent review cycle.

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