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BioAccelerate NYC Prize

Three Columbia faculty members were among six winners of the $1.5 million BioAccelerate NYC Prize awarded by the Partnership for New York City and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. The winning researchers each receive $250,000 to conduct late-stage, “proof-of-concept” research on products that improve human health. The funding is intended to move research down the path to commercialization by making it more attractive to venture capital funding.

Each winner has been paired with a life science industry entrepreneur who will act as a mentor and provide guidance on commercialization and company formation.

The goal of the BioAccelerate NYC Prize is to catalyze the creation of a life sciences industry sector in the city by increasing the number of commercial spin-offs from New York’s universities and research institutions. The competition addresses the critical funding gap – known as the “valley of death” – between projects too commercial to be eligible for academic or NIH grants but too speculative to attract private sector investment.

Applications from the three Columbia researchers – Brent Stockwell, Judah Weinberger, and Howard Worman – were among 64 applications submitted by researchers at New York’s top universities and research institutions. Nearly three-quarters of the applications proposed novel therapies, with the remaining quarter focused on new devices and disease diagnostic tools.

The Columbia recipients:

Brent Stockwell, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences at Morningside and a member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, studies a new class of drugs to treat cancer in a more selective and non-toxic way by targeting proteins. Such an approach could potentially treat chemotherapy-resistant tumors.

Judah Weinberger, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine (in pharmacology), pursues development of a device that would regulate blood flow from the artery to the vein to make dialysis safer for patients with kidney failure. The device could reduce distal hand atrophy and high output heart failure. 

Howard Worman, M.D., professor of medicine and of anatomy & cell biology, studies a treatment for patients suffering from cardiomyopathy, a deterioration of the heart muscle, that would use drugs currently used to treat cancer.

The Partnership for New York City says New York lacks a commercial infrastructure to translate research into jobs. The BioAccelerate NYC Prize is a step toward establishing a bioscience cluster that could ultimately employ thousands of New Yorkers.

“Columbia University is proud to see our faculty receive so many of the BioAccelerate prizes,” said Robert Kasdin, senior executive vice president at Columbia University. “Columbia has a long tradition of launching successful NYC start-up companies based on the transformational research emerging from our faculty research labs, and we look forward to continuing to support the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.”