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Four Engineering Research Projects Win Support from The Dartmouth Innovations Accelerator for Cancer

Jan 24, 2023   |   by Catha Mayor

The Dartmouth Innovations Accelerator for Cancer (DIAC)—launched in 2020 through donations from alumni—is a partnership between the Dartmouth Cancer Center and the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship.

DIAC project leaders (l to r): Margie Ackerman; Petr Brůža; Katie Hixon; John Zhang.

DIAC's most recent $100,000 Stu Trembly Award, named for an engineering professor and alum, and participant in DIAC's first cohort, who died suddenly in 2021, is split among four Dartmouth Engineering research teams:

  1. Unlocking B cell immunotherapies; Professor Margie Ackerman, et al; $35k
  2. Guided surgical resection by detection of hypoxic tumor cells; Professor Petr Brůža, et al; $25k
  3. Tissue engineering to promote bone regrowth following tumor resection; Professor Katie Hixon, et al; $25k
  4. Automated exosome capture and loading; Professor John Zhang, et al; $15k

Says Zhang, "We appreciate the support to explore new ways of delivering cancer therapeutics using exosomes engineering on microchips. We hope this pilot exploration will provide a key solution for effective cancer management."

"Our lab used a large portion of the award to purchase a Bison 1000 digital light processing printer," says Professor Hixon. "This will allow us to 3D-print hydroxyapatite frameworks for bone regeneration—a key component of our research project. The students received the printer this week and are excited to start using it! We are grateful for the support in memory of Professor Trembly." 

The accelerator aims to equip researchers with the tools and expertise needed to translate their innovations to the marketplace. DIAC participants complete a five or ten-week entrepreneurship course and have access to advice, feedback, and support from industry insiders.

Professor Stu Trembly Th'83

"Stu Trembly was one of the first people that I spoke to about the idea of starting a program like this at Dartmouth, and his encouragement really spurred me to move forward. He followed up his words with action by being the first one to submit a project to the 1st cohort, and even though he made it to the finals but didn't win an award, he told me before he passed away that he was planning on trying again. The program team all felt that they wanted to do something to honor Stu's entrepreneurial spirit, so we created the Stu Trembly Award."

—Barry Schweitzer '82, Magnuson Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives

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