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Penn Health-Tech’s Accelerator Program Reveals its Elite 8

| By Glory Durham

Philadelphia, August 10, 2023— Penn Health-Tech, Penn’s hub for health technology innovation, announces the newest cohort taking part in its Health Tech Accelerator program. 
Penn Health-Tech (PHT) aims to help turn innovative ideas across the University and health systems into useful technologies and products that solve unmet clinical needs and advance health care. For more than half a decade, the center has supported over 60 early-stage technology teams and provided nearly $2.5 million in funding on top of hands-on project management, development expertise, and other critical resources. Its alumni have gone on to secure more than $50 million in follow-on funding from sources that range from government grants to corporate investment.
The Health Tech Accelerator (HTA) is a year-long, cohort based program that is intended to provide support through advising and funding aimed at accelerating the life cycle of innovative health  technologies.  Penn Health-Tech’s HTA program supports faculty and staff from the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

A prior recipient of Penn Health-Tech SEED Grant support, Rachel Blue, MD, a medical resident within the Department of Neurosurgery, looks ahead at her upcoming participation in the HTA program. “Being a part of the PHT Accelerator [is] an exciting step for our team. PHT has the expertise and resources to catapult innovations to the next level. With PHT’s guidance and support, we will be able to make the DIVE [our medical device] market-ready and will be primed to help improve outcomes for the patient population we take care of everyday.” 
For its upcoming 2023 funding cycle launching in September to select HTA Cohort 2024, Penn Health-Tech plans to increase the pilot funding offered to teams. Participating team will receive:
    •    Pilot funding of up to $75K, depending on project progression
    •    Hands-on advising to support development
    •    Project management towards technical de-risking (e.g., prototype development, proof of concept, etc.) and/or commercial de-risking (e.g., setting development milestones, clinical strategy, regulatory strategy, reimbursement strategy, etc.)
    •    Participation in optional HTA Bench to Bedside Bootcamp
The HTA 2023 cohort includes the following:

Device for Intraventricular Entry (DIVE)1 
Michael Spadola, MD, Neurosurgical Resident, Co-Founder 
Rachel Blue, MD, Neurosurgical Resident, Co-Founder
Bryan Humbarger, CEO, Co-Founder 
Melisa Lopez-Anton, Board Member 

Earable Intelligence (EI)
Andrew G. Richardson, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
Xilin Liu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering (U. Toronto)

EZ-Needle Thoracostomy
Neil Ray, MD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Jonathan Bar, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Nicholas Benson, MD, Chief Resident in Emergency Medicine

iCut: A better optic nerve sheath fenestration
William Katowitz, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology
Gabriela Lahaie-Luna, MD, Ophthalmology Specialist
Sabrina Bulas, MD, Ophthalmology Resident
Jasmine Brown, Medical Student
Ali Thaler, Medical Student
Brian Cortese, MBA Student

Nerve coupler for improved connectivity immediately after repair 
D. Kacy Cullen, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery 
Justin Burrell, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Retention system for immediate postpartum IUD
Eileen Y. Wang, MD, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Gabriel Arenas, MD, Clinical Fellow
Jessica H. Chen, MD, Medical Resident
Nick Guo, Graduate Student

Scar-minimizing tissue adhesives for head and face
Shu Yang, PhD, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Alexander Tucker, Attending Neurosurgeon
Thomas Leung, Assistant Professor of Dermatology

Tunable biomimetic decellularized extracellular matrix-based systems for rotator cuff repair 
Su Chin Heo, PhD, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering 
Se-Hwan Lee, PhD, Post-doc Researcher 
Zizhao (Molly) Li, PhD Candidate

1 This technology has spun out into the startup Ventru