Past recipients

The Quest Innovation Fund has provided to support to these projects over the years. Congratulations to these previous Quest Innovation Fund recipients.


Commercialization Fund projects and recipients

Treatment of MI Using Alpha-2- Macroglobulin

Principal Investigator: Antonio Abbate, Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine in the School of Medicine; Co-PI: Stefano Toldo, Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine in the School of Medicine

Description: This invention provides a method of treatment of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) by administering a protein isolated from plasma. Drs. Abbate and Toldo have found that administration of this protein in a mouse model of AMI significantly reduces plasma levels of troponin I and shows a significantly smaller infarct size of the myocardium. This protein is currently tested as a novel therapy to prevent heart injury.

Energy Efficient Memory Devices Based on Skyrmions

Principal Investigator: Jayasimha Atulasimha, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering in the School of Engineering

Description: This invention is a novel improvement on existing electronic memory technology that can result in between 10-100 times reduction in energy consumption while maintaining performance comparable to commercially available state-of-the-art devices. This technology will be able to meet the fast growing demand for highly energy efficient embedded processors in a world dominated by big data and the internet-of-things.

Development of a Test for Tick-Borne Disease

Principal Investigator: Jason Carlyon, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology in the Molecular Biology and Genetics program of the School of Medicine; Co-PI: Richard Marconi, Ph.D., professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine

Description: This project aims to further develop a promising blood test for human granulocytic anaplasmosis, an emerging and potentially deadly disease that is the second most-common tick-borne infection, behind Lyme disease.

A Miniaturized Air Quality Monitoring System

Principal Investigator: Daren Chen, Ph.D., professor and Floyd D. Gottwald Sr. Chair in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering in the School of Engineering

Description: The goal of this project is to develop a miniaturized and cost-effective fine particle classifier to allow for air quality monitoring and testing.

An Automated Device for Rapid and Inexpensive Processing of Sexual Assault Evidence Samples

Principal investigator: Tracey Dawson-Cruz, Ph.D., associate professor, College of Humanities and Sciences, Department of Forensic Science

Description: This microchip technology has the potential to change the way body fluid evidence from sexual assault kits is analyzed and the results are reported. The microchip will enable forensic labs to provide data in less time and at less cost; reducing the back log in samples to be tested and delays in crime solving and prosecution. Currently, the back log of sexual assault kits that await testing in the U.S. alone exceeds 400,000; the use of this technology will help to reduce this backlog and prevent it in the future.

A pilot study of the role of type IV pili in Clostridium difficile colonization

Investigators: Michael Donnenberg, M.D., professor, Internal Medicine and senior associate dean, Medicine; Anton Chestukhin, Ph.D.; and Pradip Kumar Singh, Ph.D.

Description: This proposal is focused on developing a vaccine for C. difficile by using purified pilin proteins to stimulate an immune response and protect people against C. difficile infection. Type IV pili (T4Ps) are thin appendages composed of pilins that are used by many bacteria to adhere to cells and surfaces.

Development of Novel Catalysts for Drug Development

Principal investigator: Keith Ellis, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Medicinal ChemistrySchool of Pharmacy

Description: This project is focused on the discovery and manufacturing of novel catalyzing agents to allow cost-effective and highly efficient synthesis of pharmaceutical active ingredients.

DroidNet: Protecting Your Personal Information When Installing Mobile Applications

Principal investigator: Carol Fung, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science

Description: With the growing usage of smartphones, users are unknowingly exposed to vulnerabilities that make it very easy for malicious applications to collect private information. To help smartphone users better protect their security and privacy, this team is developing a novel smartphone permission control system. This is a user-friendly platform that provides expert recommendations and gives control over personal data back into the hands of the user.

A new method for medication reconciliation in trauma and emergency medicine settings

Investigators: Sudha Jayaraman, M.D., assistant professor, Pathology, Surgery; Dayanjan Wijesinghe, Ph.D., assistant professor, Pharmacotherapy; and Daniel Contaifer and Urszula Osinska Warncke

Description: This project aims to develop a novel blood test that can rapidly and accurately identify critical medications used by an incapacitated patient. This procedure will allow clinicians to make rapid prognostic decisions for patient care and will change the paradigm of medication safety. Practitioners will be able to mitigate the risks of adverse events from the omission of critical medications or interactions between new medications administered and those currently being taken by the patient.

A new method to treat and prevent bacterial vaginosis

Investigators: Kimberley Jefferson, Ph.D., associate professor, Microbiology and Immunology; and Quamrun N. Masuda, Ph.D., associate professor in Pharmaceutics

Description: This project aims to investigate a therapeutic to reduce the rate of bacterial vaginosis through multiple routes of delivery. This study will determine the methodology which will be less likely to develop bacterial vaginosis or to experience recurrent bacterial vaginosis with the end-goal to develop a new formulation of an approved drug and a new mode of administration.

Advanced Microsurgical Trainer

Investigators: Santosh Kale, M.D., assistant professor, Surgery; Peter Pidcoe, Ph.D., associate professor, Physical Therapy; and Morgan Yacoe, adjunct professor, VCUarts

Description: This technology is a reusable surgical model that allows trainees to master interventions while accurately simulating the 3D constraints of human anatomy. This sophisticated training model will provide a realistic experience to safely teach and perfect the microsurgical techniques required to successfully perform procedures on different parts of the body.

Improving Donor Organ Transplantation Success

Principal investigator: Martin Mangino, Ph.D., professor, School of Medicine, Department of Surgery

Description: It is important to keep donor organs for transplant viable until they can be transplanted. The focus of this research will be to test an intravenous solution to prevent damage to donor organs prior to transplantation.

Novel Anesthesia Equipment

Principal investigator: William Paul Murphy, Ph.D., assistant professor of anesthesiology, School of Medicine

Description: This invention is a novel device that allows airway equipment to remain clean and available for use while protecting the patient and environment from contamination.

Development of a novel targeted antibody therapy for triple-negative breast cancer

Principal Investigator: Youngman Oh, Ph.D., professor of pathology, biochemistry and molecular biology, School of Medicine 

Description: This invention relates to the use of IGFBP-3 receptor agonist monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer. Dr. Oh fully characterized the specificity of the antibodies and their mechanism of action and is currently testing them for potential therapeutic for triple-negative breast cancer – the most aggressive form of breast cancer.

Crawler to Assist Infants with Developmental Delays Develop Motor and Cognitive Skills

Principal investigator: Peter Pidcoe, DPT, Ph.D., associate professor and assistant chair in the Department of Physical Therapy in the School of Allied Health Professions

Description: This project focuses on the continuous development of the Self-Initiated Prone Progressive Crawler to a design that is attractive to the marketplace for children with disabilities, as well as other children. The crawler is a robotic system developed to promote movement, motor learning and environmental enrichment in children.

Electronic Alcohol Tester

Investigators: David Saul, student in the School of Business, da Vinci Center; Illya Kajan, student in the School of Business, da Vinci Center; Boris Solomonov, student in the School of Business, da Vinci Center; Matthew Leccadito, School of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Alex Ucci, School of Business, da Vinci Center    

Description: This invention is a novel portable testing device that can measure the alcohol content in a solution. This device is primarily being developed for three different uses: a personal safety device, a law enforcement aid and a tool for home brewers.

Reducing Electromagnetic Radiation from Smart Phones through Specialized Materials to Protect Pregnant Women

Principal investigator: Erdem Topsakal, Ph.D., professor and chair, School of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

Description: Due to increasing sources and levels of exposure, electromagnetic radiation has been the subject of an ongoing health care debate. The health risks posed by this type of radiation could have a significant and damaging effect on children and expectant mothers. This technology, a novel protective fabric, aims to provide effective electromagnetic shielding for these high-risk individuals. This novel fabric is being designed to be flexible, comfortable and capable of effectively blocking all radiating electromagnetic fields regardless of power density; thus protecting babies and adults from its damaging effects.

No Guidewire Left Behind

Investigators: Bennett Ward, Ph.D., associate professor, director of Project Outreach, Engineering; Paul Murphy, M.D., assistant professor of Anesthesiology; and Hilton Bennett, daVinci Center

Description: This novel technology solves the problem of Retained Guidewires after central venous catheter placement or other catheterization procedures. Retained Guidewires have been repeatedly cited as a major safety issue. This device aims to serve as a physical deterrent in preventing total wire insertion, and provide visual and auditory feedback on the safe execution of the procedure.

Making Radiation Therapy More Effective by Ensuring Correct Patient Positioning

Investigators: W. Hong Yeo, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Engineering, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering; and Siyong Kim, Ph.D., professor, School of Medicine, Radiation Oncology 

Description: It is important for patients undergoing radiation therapy to accurately receive the fully prescribed dose. Patient movement during therapy can lead to an insufficient dose of radiation to cancerous tissues and also cause injury to healthy tissues. This device will automatically account for and correct for patient movement during therapy to allow for accurate treatment to the cancerous tissues. This funding will enable the continued development of this automated patient positioning system to be used during radiation therapy for patients with head and neck cancer.  

A Dual-Channel Jetting Apparatus for 2D/3D Electro hydrodynamic (EHD) Printing

Principal Investigator: Hong Zhao, Ph.D., associate professor, School of Engineering, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

Description: This invention is a novel design of a 2D/3D electrohydrodynamic printing nozzle that enables continuous ink flow during printing and eliminates nozzle clogging and ink flow control issues. The innovative nozzle design will be a key enabler for high resolution viable micro/nano manufacturing using EHD printing technique, which will significantly improve printer performance and reduce the manufacturing costs.


Entrepreneurial Fund projects and recipients

Board Grab

Student founder: Anthony Cannella, School of Business. Description: is a platform that creates a marketplace for buyers and sellers of used surfboards, serving as an intermediary to ensure quality control of the products.


Student founder: Desmund Delaney, School of Business. Description: 8:00AM is an online sneaker store that sells new and lightly worn sneakers direct to consumers via eBay.

Peace and Fluidity Designs

Student founder: Haley Cowan, School of Business. Description: Inspired by Cowan’s study abroad experience in Australia and Southeast Asia during her sophomore year, Peace and Fluidity Designs is a brand that offers attire, clutches and yoga mat bags, emphasizing and encouraging an enlightened lifestyle.

Urban Choice Mushroom Farm

Student founder: Lindsay Hawk, School of the Arts. Description: Urban Choice is a Richmond-based urban gourmet mushroom farm that supplies locally grown “fresh and beautiful mushrooms that inspire culinary creativity.”


Student founder: Umar Hasni, School of Engineering. Description: CUE has developed maternity clothing that incorporates electromagnetic shielding, preventing EM radiation from causing potential medical complications.

Church Hill CSA Recipe Baskets

Student founder: Gabrielle Tenney, School of Business. Description: Tenney is planning to develop entrepreneurial solutions to the problem of food deserts in Richmond’s East End. She plans to hold cooking competitions that allow VCU students in Church Hill to take their recipes and translate them into a Community Supported Agriculture basket that would be sold to the community.


Student founder: Brittany Allen, School of Engineering. Description: MedMatch is developing a technology that aims to help increase the effectiveness of donating medical equipment between U.S. hospitals and hospitals in developing countries.

No Stone Collective

Student founders: Brian O’Loughlin, School of Business, and Sarah Butler, School of the Arts. Description: No Stone Collective is an outdoor-lifestyle brand focused on “embracing the everyday rough-and-tumble adventurer.”

Ridewall LLC

Student founder: Daniel Calabro, School of Business. Description: is an application that provides ride-sharing services specifically focused on students in colleges and universities.

Click here for the spring 2017 cohort.



Programmatic Fund projects and recipients

Aaron Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor and associate chair of the Department of TheatreSchool of the Arts
Project title: VCU Project Viral Video Greenlight

Elizabeth Farmer, Ph.D., associate dean for research and professor, School of Social Work
Project title: Evidence-based Practice for All

Molly Ransone, assistant director, Learning Media Innovation, ALT Lab
Project title: The Artfulness Initiative

Sara Williams, head of academic outreach, VCU Libraries
Project title: Science Journalism Hybrid Course

Amy Adkins, Ph.D., College of Humanities and Sciences
Project title: Understanding Connections Between Behavioral and Emotional Health, Co-Curricular Engagement and Student Success

Lindsay Andiola, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Business
Project title: Integrating Technology into the Accounting Curriculum at VCU: Bridging the Growing Tech Gap

Joseph Coombs, faculty, School of Business
Project title: Creating an Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Researchers at VCU: Bringing VCU Research and Business Together

Liz Canfield, faculty, Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, College of Humanities and Sciences
Project title: Open Minds Program

Susanna Wu-Pong, faculty, School of Pharmacy
Project title: VCU BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) Program

Aaron Anderson, faculty, School of the Arts and School of Medicine, Standardized Patient Program, Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety
Project title: Arts-Medicine Fellows program

Mark Wood and Angelina Overvold, faculty, religious studies, School of World Studies, College of Humanities and Sciences
Project title: Religion and the Arts in the 21st Century: A Rebirth of Images

Alexander Sutton and Paula McMahon, staff, Equity and Diversity Committee, College of Humanities and Sciences
Project title: VCU Campus Accessibility MApp

Shilpa Iyer, faculty, School of Engineering
Project title: Bioenergetics: Arts meets Gentle Science in Sickness and in Health

Abdulkhaliq J. Alsalman, faculty, School of Pharmacy
Project title: Enhancing Adherence to Prescribed Opioids Using A Mobile-Based App: A pilot Study in Non-Cancer Pain

Peter Pidcoe, faculty, Department of Physical Therapy, School of Allied Health Professions
Project title: Developing an interdepartmental cross-campus model for entrepreneurial development of clinical tools: Testing the commercially supported R&D model of the future

Daniel J. McGarvey, faculty, Center for Environmental Studies, VCU Life Sciences
Project title: eESP 2.0 – Ecological and Environmental Science Perception, version 2.0

Kristin Caskey, faculty, fashion design and merchandising, School of the Arts
Project title: Middle of Broad (MoB) Studio

John Accordino, faculty, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Project title: Metro View: How Universities Can Help to Create the Globally Competitive Metropolis

Peyton Rowe, faculty, Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture
Project title: CreateAthon: Growing a Social Enterprise for Nonprofit Capacity-Building, Advertising and Communications

Christopher Hagerty-Hoff, student, VCU Chapter of Engineers Without Borders – USA
Project title: EWB-VCU Rain-Catchment Development Project

Ali Salman, Usman Chaudhry, Karima Abutaleb and Albara Elshaer, students, United2Heal
Project title: Bridging the Gap by United2Heal: Eliminating global medical supply deficit from the equation of modern-day healthcare disparities in underprivileged areas

Austin Callwood Jr., staff member, Department of Management
Project title: Development and Improvement of the Entrepreneurship Program at VCU

Nicole Colomb, enterprise and economic development executive
Project title: VCU Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program

Danielle Dick, associate professor of psychiatry
Project title: Integrating Research and Prevention Programming to Reduce Risky Alcohol Use Among VCU Students

Sheryl Garland, vice president for community outreach, VCU Health System
Project title: HELP for VCC and the Daily Planet: Implementing a Student-Led Health Literacy Program for Underserved Patients

Yan Jin, Ph.D., interim director, Richard T. Robertson School of Mass Communications
Project title: Creating a VCU Center for Media+Health: A Collaborative Hub for Human Communication Science and Practice

Qasim Kazmi, senior biology major, and Usman Chaudhry, junior chemistry major
Project title: Emerging Healthcare Leaders on a National Level

Micah McCreary, associate professor of psychology
Project title: The BEST (Brothers, Energized, Spirited, Talented) Project

Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, associate professor of theatre
Project title: The Initiative for Conciliation, Alliance Building, Recognition and Engagement (CARE)

Nihar Sheth, instructor, Center for Biological Complexity
Project title: Research and Experience Opportunities for Students (REOS)

Matt Woolman, director of creative entrepreneurship, School of the Arts
Project title: Creative Destruction Lab