Virginia biosciences consortium awards first grants

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The Richmond-based Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corp. (VBHRC)   has awarded its first grants, totaling $1.25 million, to four bioscience projects involving Virginia universities and private companies.

The awards are being matched by federal grants and industry contributions, creating a cumulative  investment of $2.5 million.

VBHRC is a state created non-profit corporation whose mission “is to improve human health by accelerating translational research through collaborations between Virginia research universities and industry.”

In announcing the grants VBHRC also said  that Old Dominion University recently joined the consortium as the sixth university member. The other schools in the group are:  Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech.

Receiving VBHRC grants are projects designed to:
•      accelerate the discovery and development of  new cancer drugs involving the University of Virginia, George Mason University and HemoShear Inc. of Charlottesville,  a grant of $450,000;
•       reposition an existing drug to combat brain cancer (U.Va., VCU and Tau Therapeutics LLC)  $203,000;
•       foster tissue repair and regeneration in diabetes and heart disease (Virginia Tech, U.Va. and FirstString Research Inc.) $200,000;  and,
•        treat inflammatory bowel disease more effectively (Virginia Tech, VCU and BioTherapeutics, Inc. of Blacksburg) $400,000.

“The review panel of CEOs, investors and academic researchers unanimously agreed that these four projects hold great promise to deliver significant advances for some of the most pressing healthcare issues today,” VBHRC CEO Mike Grisham said in a statement. “By encouraging new collaborations between our world-class universities and the private sector in Virginia, we are helping to cultivate the expertise that makes us globally competitive, both now and in the future.”

VBHRC received 25 letters of intent that resulted in 12 formal applications as part of this initial award, which were reviewed by a 10-member project management and oversight panel. The VBHRC’s board of directors then reviewed the panel’s recommendations and selected the projects to receive the awards.

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