Research Foundation News

July 12, 2023

Amplified Sciences receives $400,000 NCI grant to improve early detection of pancreatic cancer

The company will develop and validate testing for an assay to improve detection of pancreatic cancer in patients diagnosed with pancreatic cystic lesions

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Health care providers and their patients could know with greater confidence whether pancreatic cysts are benign or potentially malignant, and if surgery is required to remove them, by using a new diagnostic test currently in development.

Amplified Sciences, a clinical-stage life sciences diagnostic company that licenses Purdue University innovations, has received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, grant of approximately $400,000 from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop the test. The company focuses on accurately detecting and categorically assessing the risks of debilitating diseases.

CEO Diana Caldwell said the incidental detection rate of cystic pancreatic lesions has increased significantly due to the aging population and advances in clinical imaging technologies. However, there is a lack of definitive diagnostics to accurately assess if a cyst is benign or potentially malignant.

“Health care professionals need better tools to help them manage these patients and identify individuals most at risk for pancreatic cancer,” Caldwell said. “Pancreatic cysts are a window to early detection and represent an important risk factor in identifying pancreatic cancer early.” 

Caldwell said clinicians must balance the risk of missing a potentially malignant cyst with taking unnecessary surgical action to remove a benign cyst. She said retrospective studies have found almost one-fourth of surgeries to remove pancreatic cysts are unwarranted.

“However, previous studies have also revealed that when clinicians use a wait-and-see approach to monitor the development of pancreatic cancer, up to a quarter of patients receive surgery too late,” Caldwell said. “The dual-edged nature of this process highlights the need for better early-stage diagnostic tools.”

Caldwell said the NCI grant will help fund important technical and clinical validation milestones, including the procurement of banked patient samples and clinical trials.

The company’s pancreatic cancer diagnostic products are based on technology invented by V. Jo Davisson, professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology in Purdue University’s College of Pharmacy and a faculty member of the Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery. Davisson serves as the chief scientific officer of Amplified Sciences. 

“This award recognizes the strength of our scientific team, the potential of our chemistry platform and the National Institutes of Health’s interest in supporting early-stage diagnostics in this disease state,” Davisson said.

The state of Indiana is also supportive of startups earning SBIR grants. Through a program managed by Elevate Ventures, the company is eligible for a Phase I grant match of up to $50,000.

Amplified Sciences licenses Davisson’s intellectual property through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization.

About Amplified Sciences

Amplified Sciences is a clinical-stage life science diagnostics startup focused on detecting and preempting the risks of debilitating diseases, thus providing health providers the ability to treat patients earlier with better outcomes. The company’s ultrasensitive chemistry platform leverages technology licensed from Purdue University, and its headquarters is in West Lafayette, Indiana. Their lead assay has published clinical evidence in pancreatic cancer. To learn more about Amplified Sciences, visit

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities (Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal and QS), with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States (U.S. News & World Report), Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Innovates, at

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation 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 through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. In fiscal year 2022, the office reported 157 deals finalized with 237 technologies signed, 379 disclosures received and 169 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact for more information.

Writer/Media contact: Steve Martin,  

Sources: Diana Caldwell,

Jo Davisson,

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