OCAST Board approves 10 Applied Research projects totaling $1.8 million
OCAST board members have approved $1.8 million for the Oklahoma Applied Research Support program to fund 10 projects chosen on the basis of quality science and expectations for commercialization. They also were advised that OCAST is expecting to eliminate the $1.9 million spring competition for the applied research program as a budget-cutting measure.
OCAST is the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.
A one-to-one match is required of successful applicants for Oklahoma Applied Research Support awards most of which represent research projects that run for up to three years.
Peer reviewers from around the nation evaluated the applied research applications and collectively placed them in order of the project’s expected ability to achieve commercialization through sound scientific investigation.
Michael Carolina, executive director of OCAST, described the new research projects as an important part of Oklahoma’s rapidly diversifying economy. “Not only does Oklahoma gain from the infusion of investment research into the economy; our state benefits from the improved opportunity to create Oklahoma-based businesses that will sustain us far into the future.”
Projects range from a new therapy for age-related macular degeneration to a high pressure/high temperature quartz transducer.
OCAST applied research funds target accelerated and proof of concept technology that has significant potential for producing a commercially successful product, process or service with high potential to benefit the state’s economy.
A report from OCAST staff advised that next spring’s applied research competition could be a victim of the state budge shortfall. Improvements in the budget picture could place the spring competition back on schedule.
The applied research award winners include the following:
- Oklahoma City – Bladder cancer kills 13,000 Americans each year. An estimated half of those deaths are preventable because they occur in people who were diagnosed with superficial bladder cancer which recurred and progressed. The research is expected to result in intelligent drug design to produce improved compounds. Robert Hurst of DormaTarg Inc. is the award winner. Award: $45,000 for one year
- Oklahoma City – Principal Investigator Dennis Hair will seek multiple objectives in his research. One of his objectives will identify and control the chemical origins of degradation that limit the shelf life of a therapeutic. Altheus Therapeutics Inc. is the award winner. Initially, 10 new employees will result from the research and after full marketing ramp-up, up to 90 jobs should result. Award: $300,000 for two years
- Oklahoma City – Age-related macular degeneration, a common disease associated with aging, is the focus of this research. It affects sharp and central vision. An estimated 1.7 million Americans are potential beneficiaries. Charlesson LLC and principal investigator Danyang Chen expect the OCAST award to help them attract more funding from federal sources and match is provided by the National Institutes of Health and Charlesson LLC. Award: $250,548 for two years
- Tulsa – Principal Investigator Goutham Kirikera of Geophysical Research Company LLC anticipates designing and manufacturing an extreme high pressure high temperature small diameter quartz sensor. Use is expected around the world to conduct oil well pressure surveys that aid in the discovery of oil and natural gas reservoirs. The developed sensor will be the first of its kind. Award: $89,912 for two years
- Stillwater – RK Composites Inc., with matching funds from the National Science Foundation, will be developing wireless sensors for structural health monitoring. Gajendra Pandey is principal investigator for the project which will place embedded wiring into civil infrastructure, pipelines, wind turbine blades and aircraft. The wireless sensor project will market to a growing field, and the financial impact is projected to eventually be $10 million in one decade with employment of 38 people. Award: $90,000 for two years
- Norman – SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc. and Nth Degree Technologies Worldwide will develop a new generation single-wall carbon nanotube with higher electrical conductivity and transparency than what is currently available. The research has applications in printable ink. Yongqiang Tan is principal investigator. Long-term project expectations include sales at $236 million in 10 years and jobs for an additional 24 people. Award: $300,000 for two years
- Oklahoma City – DNA Solutions and Oklahoma State University will provide matching funds for a project that calls for a commercial assay for prion disease detection. Brandt Cassidy is principal investigator. The goal of the project is to develop protocols for the use of selected white-tailed deer cell lines for the ante-mortem and environmental detection of CWD prions. Prion disease is related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy and chronic wasting disease. Award: $230,608 for two years
- Oklahoma City – The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center working with principal investigator Courtney Houchen will work on development of a novel cancer stem cell model. The Veteran’s Administration and Swaasth Inc. will provide matching funds. Cancer stem cells have been identified in a wide variety of breast, pancreas and colon cancers. The goal of the project is to develop a cancer stem cell model that can be used to identify novel therapeutic stem cell targeting agents. Award: $300,000 for three years
- Stillwater – The National Institutes of Health is providing matching funds to Oklahoma State University and principal investigator Lin Liu for development of a microRNA expression library. The collection will satisfy a growing demand for expressing microRNAs in cells and animals for gain-of-function and therapeutic studies. Award: $90,000 for two years
- Ochelata – Principal investigator Donald Hitzman, with matching funds from LATA Group Inc., will improve the functionability of an on-site rector for nitrate production. The object of the one-year project is to engineer, develop, build and operate a more practical field unit. The goal is to increase nitrate production at commercial levels. Offshore oil and gas operations will benefit from the technology. Award: $119,339 for one year