Research Foundation News

July 10, 2019

$150,000 in funding to advance, commercialize Purdue innovations

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Four Purdue University researchers have received a total of $150,086 from the Trask Innovation Fund to help their labs commercialize their innovations.

The fund is a development program established to support projects that advance the commercial value of Purdue University intellectual property. The fund makes awards twice a year to aid faculty and staff with their patented innovations that are being commercialized through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization.

The Purdue researchers receiving funding this spring:

  • Bradley Duerstock, associate professor of engineering practice in the School of Industrial Engineering and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, and Juan Wachs, Purdue’s James A. and Sharon M. Tompkins Rising Star Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering, received $50,000 for the innovation of a portable device that helps people with visual impairments “see” digital images. This technology uses an algorithm that changes digital images into physical sensations so a person can use other senses to determine the size, color, shape, intensity, location, texture and opacity of digital images. The technology could help users pursue careers in medicine, biology, chemistry and other fields where opportunities are restricted for the visually impaired. For more information, visit here. A video about the research is available here.
  • Georgia A. Malandraki, an associate professor of speech, language and hearing sciences in the College of Health and Human Sciences, and Chi Hwan Lee, an assistant professor in biomedical and mechanical engineering, received $47,937 for their innovative wearable technology in the evaluation and treatment of dysphagia from a distance. Dysphagia, or swallowing disorders, is estimated to affect up to 22% of adults over 50, as well as stroke patients and children with cerebral palsy among many other populations. This technology, created through the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, uses electromyographic and other sensors to monitor swallowing function and help patients complete their therapy at home. For more information, visit here.
  • You-Yeon Won, a professor in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, received $37,149 for his development of a radiation-controlled drug-release formulation that is shown to improve the treatment of locally advanced tumors more effectively for some of the 60,000 people diagnosed with head and neck cancer a year in the United States. The formulation allows toxicity and side effects associated with chemo-radiation to be minimized by encapsulating the drug within radiation-degradable capsules and injecting this formulation into the patient's tumor before normal radiotherapy. For more information, visit here.
  • Chunhua Zhang, an assistant professor of botany and plant pathology in the College of Agriculture, received $15,000 for developing a compound effective in controlling weeds that also is safe for people and the environment. The Purdue team created an herbicide that targets and kills broad weed species, but also developed a method to create plants resistant to this new herbicide. For more information, visit here.
  • Purdue faculty and staff that have submitted a disclosure to OTC can apply for Trask. The deadline for submitting applications for the upcoming round of Trask proposals is Sept. 27.

    These innovations align with Purdue's Giant Leaps, celebrating the global advancements made in health, space, artificial intelligence and sustainability highlights as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. Those are the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.

    About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

    The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at or visit For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.

    Writer: Nicole Pitti,  

    Purdue Research Foundation contact: Tom Coyne, 765-588-1044,

    Sources: Abhijit Karve, 765-588-3487,

    Brad Duerstock,

    Georgia A. Malandraki,

    You-Yeon Won,

    Chunhua Zhang,

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