UWM Research Foundation announces new Catalyst Grants

A total of seven new research projects, including techniques that offer more accurate weather predictions and a computer game that could treat a compulsive hair-pulling affliction, have received Catalyst Grant funding from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation.

The Catalyst Grant Program invests in promising early-stage research at UWM, fostering commercialization of new technology. Now in its sixth year, the Catalyst Grant Program has awarded nearly $3.4 million in seed funding for 58 projects.

For the first time, three of the research projects are supported by GE Healthcare Catalyst Grants, totaling $184,400. These awards target research in advanced computational imaging and related technologies. This program is part of a larger effort by GE Healthcare aimed at building a pipeline of Wisconsin-based medical imaging software developers and researchers to drive the next generation of healthcare technology globally.

The other four projects are backed by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation. Totaling $181,000 this round, these grants support promising research and development in areas where UWM has the greatest potential to impact the regional economy through commercialization activities.

Bradley/Herzfeld winners:

  • David Frick has focused his protein studies on hepatitis C since being diagnosed with the virus in 1995. He received a liver transplant in 1999, but has continued to pursue treatments for hepatitis C, in addition to HIV/AIDS and Dengue Fever. In this project, he hopes to determine if potent compounds that he developed for hepatitis C can also be effective in treating Dengue Fever, an infectious tropical disease caused by a mosquito-borne virus
  • Han Joo Lee studies the treatments of a variety of anxiety disorders. In this project, he will explore the use of a computer game that aims to treat Trichotillomania, an impulse control disorder characterized by compulsive hair-pulling. If successful, the study could lead to new treatment methods delivered via the Internet and mobile devices.
  • Paul Roebber, an atmospheric sciences researcher, is developing new techniques that offer more accurate weather predictions, and which may be useful in energy trading and other markets. This project will create a delivery system for one demonstration site, Chicago, to allow prospective licensees to compare the system with their current methods.
  • Chris Yuan is working to develop a new nanomaterial for use in lithium ion batteries. By using silicon, he hopes to overcome expansion problems that plague other technologies when the battery is charged. That will lead to less expensive batteries that meet the stringent capacity requirements of the compact energy storage market.

GE Healthcare winners:

  • Ilya Avdeev developed an expertise in finite element analysis while working at ANSYS, Inc. In this project he will work to develop efficient algorithms to model thermal deformations. These algorithms could potentially allow machines such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to adapt and correct in real-time as heating causes sensitive parameters to change.
  • Adel Nasiri has expertise in power electronics, storage and control. He will explore load-leveling techniques, applied in other settings, for use in imaging systems. The concept could lower the burden on electrical systems that supply power for imaging systems, making them less expensive to install and maintain.
  • Jun Zhang hopes to reduce the cost and complexity of imaging systems by applying his expertise in Bayesian-based signal processing techniques. Imaging systems no longer use film; instead, they employ closely packed detector arrays that are expensive and difficult to manufacture. Zhang will explore whether advanced signal processing techniques can allow manufacturers to use fewer detectors while achieving the same image quality.