Public Health Professor Tapped for National Science Foundation Innovation Workshop

Ricky Leung is Developing an App-Based Device to Accelerate Recovery for Chronic Pain

Ricky Leung is an associate professor in the School of Public Health and the founder of ASAP HEAL. (Photo by Patrick Dodson) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 17, 2019) – Ricky Leung, an associate professor in the School of Public Health, will participate in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovation Corps program this winter.

Leung will join 20-30 teams from across the country to speak with potential customers, business partners and competitors to help prepare his venture for the next stage of the commercialization process.

The faculty member is the founder of ASAP HEAL, a health technology and data analytics company. Leung, along with his partners Xuemei Cao, a Ph.D. student in sociology at the University, and James Song, the principal investigator of Shadow Foundry, are developing an app-based device that would accelerate the healing process for injuries and illnesses by improving pain patients’ sleeping patterns and promoting exercise.

For patients who are suffering from chronic pain, sleeping well is necessary for implementing exercise therapy, according to Leung, whose research focuses on health analytics, digital health and global health management in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior.

The kickoff workshop will take place from Jan. 12-15 in Dallas, Texas. Participants will give final presentations on their ventures from Feb. 27-28.

The team advanced to the national I-Corps Teams program after participating in the SUNY NYCRIN Regional I-Corps Short Course this spring at the University. The two-week course was co-led by the UAlbany Innovation Center and the New York City Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN).

Leung, who began the research for the project two years ago with his brother, Howard Leung, said that the I-Corps course held at UAlbany gave the team valuable guidance on the customer discovery process.

“The course taught us how to find out what potential customers would actually want from our technology,” he said. “This is something we can’t learn from a textbook or journal article.”

The program seeks to provide university researchers with the entrepreneurial skills and knowledge of business practices needed to take ideas to market, according to Ariella Trotsenko, the project manager for NYCRIN.

Cao said that working with the instructors from the University’s course enabled the team to scale ASAP HEAL’s business model and refine their pitching skills.

“We were able to learn how to really transfer academic knowledge into products that benefit society,” the doctoral candidate said.

Trotsenko said the next SUNY NYCRIN Regional I-Corps Short Course will be held at the University in March of 2020.

“We’re excited for NYCRIN’s future collaborations with the UAlbany Innovation Center to advance technology innovation and commercialization in New York State,” she said.

The UAlbany Innovation Center helps grow technology ventures and seeks to harness the intellectual capital of four research clusters at UAlbany, including: climate and environmental science research, biomedical science and biotechnology, forensic sciences and cybersecurity, and advanced data analytics.

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