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UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

Jacobs School Professors to Receive Funding from von Liebig Center to Commercialize Academic Research

San Diego, Monday, February 23, 2004 -- The William J. von Liebig Ce nter for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at the University of Califor nia, San Diego (UCSD) has awarded $275,000 to six projects led by faculty member s of the Jacobs School of Engineering. The projects range from bio-sensors to na no-photonics, and include technologies to create synthetic bone for use in denta l implants or prosthetics; to put anti-virus and other Internet networking funct ions on auto-pilot; and to enable affordable, predictable and reliable wireless data services (details below).

This is the fourth round of so-called "gap" grants since the Center was set u p to foster entrepreneurism education on the campus and to provide funding to in ternal technology projects that have strong commercial potential. The Center rec eived 19 full applications. All of the applicants went through a rigorous screen ing mechanism and their proposals were reviewed by an external committee of indu stry experts. "This solicitation was extremely successful," said Joe Bear, execu tive director of the von Liebig Center. "All of the applications showed great pr omise, and while we were only able to make six cash awards, the von Liebig Cente r will now work with all applicants to develop commercialization strategies for their technologies, and if possible, help them secure other types of funding for their projects."

With the latest round, the von Liebig Center has awarded a total of more than $1.2 million in grants to 25 projects led by Jacobs School faculty.

Of the six new grants, two each went to faculty or researchers based in the C omputer Science and Engineering, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering depart ments, and one each to professors in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Bi oengineering. For more information on the von Liebig Center, visit, call (858) 822-59 60 or email Fo r information about previous awardees, go to

Award Descriptions by Department:


Shu Chien, Professor and Yingxiao Wang, Postdoctoral R esearcher "Development and Application of Biosensors to Monitor Kinase Activity with High Temporal and Spatial Resolution in Live Cells"

Chien and Wang aim to establish the technology to monitor the activity in liv e cells of specific kinases, and to apply it to different physiological and path ological conditions, especially for the diagnosis of diseases such as cancer. 60; Kinases play a crucial role in a variety of cellular processes, including ce ll division, angiogenesis, motility, and adhesion. Chien and Wang have developed a biosensor capable of detecting kinase activity in live cells based on an opti cal technology which allows the real-time measurement of kinase activity with hi gh temporal and spatial resolutions in live cells. Preliminary experiments have demonstrated that this biosensor reports kinase activity with high degrees of sp ecificity and sensitivity. With the von Liebig grant, they will conduct proof-of -concept research on this biosensor and its potential as a powerful tool to effi ciently and conveniently diagnose the different developmental stages of cancers, e.g. in a biopsy or a pap smear sample.


Rajesh K. Gupta, Professor "High-level Synthesis Us ing Aggressive Parallelization of System C Code"

There have been numerous attempts in the past at creating an effective high-l evel synthesis tool for designing integrated circuits directly from a behavioral language.  While each of them has its own merits, Gupta and his team (in c ollaboration with Alex Nicolau and Nikil Dutt at UC Irvine) have taken a novel a pproach to this challenge by using aggressive code parallelization and motion te chniques to discover circuit optimizations beyond what is possible with traditio nal approaches.  They have developed a number of speculative code motion te chniques and dynamic compiler transformations that optimize the circuit quality in terms of cycle time, circuit size, and interconnect costs.  This grant w ill enable his team to productize the tool by enabling it to interface to common industry formats, linking it to simulation tools, and filing for appropriate in tellectual property rights.

George Varghese, Professor "NetControl: Setting the Internet on AutoPilot"

As the Internet expands, it is taking more and more time to oversee the netwo rking technology that links it all together. Now, Varghese believes that he has settled on new software systems that could effectively remove human beings from the loop in certain key networking functions such as controlling Internet attack s and spam. He is proposing to develop two new software products that, according to one von Liebig reviewer, "represent technology that could solve a real pain. "


Sujit Dey, Professor "Enabling Affordable, Predictable , Reliable Wireless Data Services through Adaptive Content Shaping"

Next-generation wireless data networks are starting to offer new data service s.  Additionally, wireless data devices (wirelessly-connected laptops, PDAs and cell phones) are becoming more popular and affordable.  But delivery o f wireless data to, as well as general Internet surfing on, these devices is ham pered due to limited bandwidth, unpredictable error levels, and handheld constra ints.  Dey and his team have developed techniques for shaping data dynamica lly as a function of network and device conditions and constraints, resulting in a rich wireless surfing experience.  Wireless network operators as well as content providers and aggregators already have expressed interest in this techn ology.  This grant will enable Dey and his team to make this software more commercial-ready and add several advanced features.


Prabhakar Bandaru, Assistant Professor "Novel SiGe Processes and Devices for Nano-Photonics Applications"

Experts in the photonics industry see potential in the integration of Germani um-based optical components with conventional CMOS-based electronics, allowing f or the development of opto-electronic integrated circuits with superior performa nce and functionality (compared to optical or electronic circuits alone).  With this grant, Bandaru hopes to collaborate with an industry leader on further development and commercialization of his technology to make a Germanium-on-Sili con integrated photodetector capable of detecting 2.5 Gigabits per second.

Kenneth S. Vecchio, Professor "New Method to Cre ate Synthetic Bone"

The aim of this project is to refine a new method for creating synthetic bone for biomedical applications such as dental implants and biocompatible prostheti c interfaces. Vecchio recently developed a new method to convert marine skeletal structures into new materials with a composition similar to the structural basi s of bone. These new materials have microstructural architectures similar to the marine skeletons imparting excellent mechanical properties, but possess bio-com patible constituents.  This project will focus on optimizing the conversion process to develop this new material while maintaining the architecture structu re required for high-performance bone substitutes.

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Media Contacts

Doug Ramsey
Jacobs School of Engineering
Phone: 858-822-5825