Microbiome challenge identifies winning projects, from wound healing to smart probiotics

Madison- The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has selected four projects to receive development funding through the WARF Accelerator Microbiome Challenge Grant. From infection-fighting probiotics to methods for managing mosquito populations, these technologies have high potential impact.

Researchers representing 20 departments and centers applied for the grant. The selected projects are led by the following principal investigators:

-Kerri Coon (bacteriology) and Lyric Bartholomay (pathobiological sciences) for harnessing the microbiome to control disease-transmitting mosquitoes

-Lindsay Kalan (medical microbiology & immunology) and Meghan Brennan (medicine) for microbiome-based biomarkers of wound healing

-Vanessa Leone (animal & dairy sciences) and Michael Charlton, Orlando DeLeon and Na Fei of the University of Chicago for monitoring the gut microbiome as an indicator of fibrotic liver disease

-Megan McClean (biomedical engineering) and Kevin Lauterjung (biophysics) for a smart probiotic for programming fungal members of the microbiome

“WARF is thrilled to advance the next generation of innovations that leverage the dynamic field of the microbiome,” says Erik Iverson, CEO of WARF. “Our Accelerator Challenge Grants provide funding not readily available from government funding agencies to do proof-of-concept work critical to build momentum behind technologies with high societal impact and revenue potential.”

WARF helps steward the cycle of research, discovery, commercialization and investment for UW-Madison and provides annual support to the university to advance research and innovation. The Microbiome Challenge Grant is one of several funding initiatives led by WARF to help boost promising research at the university.

Projects not selected for funding through the Accelerator Challenge Grant may still be connected to other supportive resources within WARF. The next Challenge Grant opportunity will focus on advanced manufacturing technologies and will launch April 5, 2021.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WARF remains open for virtual business and continues to welcome innovation disclosures from all UW-Madison faculty, staff and students.