Four projects announced as winners of this year’s Tufts Launchpad | Accelerator awards

Four projects led by Tufts researchers have been announced as the recipients of the 2022 Tufts Launchpad | Accelerator (TLA) grants. The goal of the TLA Program is to provide Tufts faculty with the ability to advance technologies invented at Tufts towards commercialization. These four projects will receive funding from the university and business development support to further develop their intellectual property with the goal of attracting licensing interest.

Your Health in the Palm of Your Hand - Optimizing a Non-Invasive Epidermal Test
PI: Addy Alt-Holland, Associate Professor, Department of Endodontics, School of Dental Medicine

There is an unmet medical need for the development of a sensitive and objective approach for early diagnosis of Primary Sjögren’s syndrome (pSS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), two chronic, debilitating illnesses that affect mainly women. Dr. Alt-Holland’s team has developed a non-invasive, non-interventional method to collect epidermal metabolites. This method has an immense potential to serve as an innovative and sensitive self-test that can be completed both on-site (clinic) and off-site (at-home), prior to laboratory analysis. It will allow for early diagnosis and monitoring of disease status and guide the care for pSS and CFS patients.

PI: Michael Klein, William L. Clayton Professor of International Economic Affairs, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Economic research has much to contribute to the public debate, but published research is typically complex and not readily understood by the public. Furthermore, partisan misinformation from various media sources muddies the waters. EconoFact, a non-partisan publication of The Fletcher School, is designed to bring key facts and incisive analysis to the national debate on economic and social policies. Funding from TLA will be used to optimize EconoFact’s business model, explore opportunities that generate a return that can be re-invested in the project, and build the long-term sustainability of EconoFact.

VF-24, a Plant-Based Solution to Reduce Obesity and Promote Healthy Aging
PI: Simin Nikbin Meydani, Senior Scientist and Director of the Nutritional Immunology Team at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA)

An aging population and an obesity epidemic underlie the rise in chronic diseases and infections, and only 10% of Americans meet the recommended intake of 7-9 servings of vegetables and fruits (V&F). The main impediment to high intake of V&F is the inability to access and consume the recommended level, particularly for older adults. Dr. Meydani’s team has developed a mixture of 24 V&F (VF24, patent pending) that improved outcomes in pre-clinical studies. The team will use the funding from TLA develop a prototype that is cost effective, safe, convenient, organoleptically exceptional and nutrient optimized.

An Artificial Intelligence Framework for Monitoring and Analyzing Traffic Data in Inclement Weather
PI: Karen Panetta, Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering and Dean for Graduate Education, Tufts University School of Engineering

US roadways are equipped with thousands of traffic cameras that could be used to automatically detect traffic accidents to alert first-responders and archive incident data. However, traditional methods of monitoring and analyzing camera data are intractable and further hindered by bad weather conditions. To solve this, the team has developed and showcased prototypes for visual enhancement, weather anomaly removal, and traffic incident detection with transportation and news agencies. Dr. Panetta’s team will use the TLA funding to develop and evaluate the remaining components for all-weather analysis and develop a unified end-to-end framework for all-weather image analytics for commercialization purposes.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Office of the Vice Provost for Innovation extend a congratulations to all of the awardees and their teams.