S4 Provides Inspiration for Fledgling Entrepreneurs
ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 24, 2023) — For Zhihua Chang, a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry, the business of developing new technologies was never a consideration until he enrolled in the SUNY Startup Summer School (S4) program.
Chang, whose PhD project involves drug discovery and therapeutic development for neurodegenerative diseases, works within the lab of Associate Professor of Chemistry Jia Sheng at UAlbany’s RNA Institute.
In 2022, Chang took part in his first S4, which provides students, faculty and staff from throughout the State University of New York system with the knowledge and networks that will enable them to commercialize breakthrough technology. In Chang’s case, it was developing a method for integrating gel electrophoresis (a technique used in laboratories to separate charged molecules such as RNA) into a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system.
The result would be a more efficient way to screen a large number of small molecule ligands targeting RNA repeat sequences, with the end goal of finding more potential drug candidates to treat neurodegenerative diseases.
“The S4 program is very informative and inspiring. I was basically blank in the business part before taking it,” said Chang, who completed his second S4 journey this summer, culminating in a “Demo Day” on Aug. 9 at ETEC. “Now I feel I am armed with some essential tools go on the business adventure journey. S4 absolutely catalyzed the development of our technology.”
Chang was one of four UAlbany-led teams that participated in S4, of which three presented at Demo Day.
Postdoctoral researcher Omid Rajabi Shishvan, who works in the lab of Professor and Chair Gary Saulnier of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering (CNSE), presented on the ACT5 EIT (Electrical Impedance Tomgraphy) System, a device for use in hospitals which is able to deploy up to 48 electrodes for imaging, and can be used for continuous monitoring. The system can display real-time ECG (electrocardiogram) readings, is portable, and offers a high degree of flexibility in gathering useful clinical information.
Anqesha Murray, a PhD student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, presented findings on early Alzheimer’s diagnostics, a technique developed in the lab of Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Igor Lednev.
Graduate student Katharine Moser, who is pursuing her master’s degree in Geographic Information Science at UAlbany also participated in the 11-week S4 program.
S4 is SUNY’s system-wide annual summer accelerator program for people and teams that are interested in commercializing their technology and learning more about entrepreneurship. The S4 Class of 2023 had 180 participants from 27 different SUNY campuses. President Havidán Rodríguez welcomed the S4 participants and distinguished guests to ETEC on Demo Day, which also included remarks from Vice President for Research and Economic Development Thenkurussi (Kesh) Kesavadas.