Texas Ignition Fund (TIF) Awardees


Round 1 Grant Awardees



Principal Investigator(s)


UT Arlington/
UT Southwetern Medical Center Dallas

STT for GERD Batteryless Endoluminal Sensing Telemeter for Gastro Refluxed Detection  

Chiao, J.C. (UTA)
Tang, Shou-Jiang (UTSWMC)
Spechler, Stuart (UTSWMC)
Tibbals, H. Fred (UTSWMC)

Researchers at UT Arlington and UT Southwestern Medical Center have developed a sensor to aid in the diagnosis of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). This device is unique because it is wireless and does not rely on battery power, making it more portable, accurate, reliable, and comfortable for patients. Thus, use of the device allows diagnosis and targeted treatment of GERD and helps prevent gastroesophageal cancer.


UT Arlington

Universal & Cost-Effective Surface Texture on Solar Cells

Tao, Meng
Zhou, Weidong

Researchers at UT Arlington have developed a surface texture which may be safely and easily applied to solar cells (Omni-ARTM) that improves the energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar cells.





UT Arlington

Liquefaction of TX Lignite to Low-Cost Heavy Crude Oil

Billo, Richard E.
Dennis, Brian H.
Priest, John W

Researchers at UT Arlington have developed a new liquefaction process that directly converts lignite to heavy crude using a minimum amount of time, expense and processing. The conversion requires less hydrogen than traditional liquefaction processes, thus producing less greenhouse gas. Materials and processing costs are estimated at only $25 per barrel, suggesting that a profitable refining operation could be supported. Texas has an abundance of lignite that can potentially be converted to heavy crude, and American oil refineries are fully capable of refining and upgrading such liquids into low-cost light fuels such as gasoline, diesel and chemicals, as well as pitches and cokes.


UT Austin

Algae Bio-Fuel Extraction Process

Hebner, Robert

The UT Center for Electro Mechanics (CEM) has developed a breakthrough application for the extraction of lipids from algae, the highest potential source of biofuel with yields that are orders of magnitude higher than the best performing plant crops. The UT innovation is the first key enabling technology that can allow an algae-based biofuel to compete with crude production.  This extraction technology has the potential to capture a significant share of the quickly emerging algae biofuels market.


UT Austin

Next Generation Photovoltaics

Holliday, Bradley J.
Jones, Richard A.
Cowley, Alan H.

Dr. Holliday and his team at UT Austin have developed a novel method for seeding the growth of semiconductor nanoparticles into a conducting polymer matrix, enabling the creation of new photoconductive materials that can be used in solar cells and other electronic devices.  This technology will enable thin film organic materials to operate as efficiently as poly-crystalline silicon devices, while substantially reducing the cost to manufacture solar cells.  


UT Austin
UT Health Science Center - San Antonio

Power Gen for AICD Pacemakers

Chen, Shaochen (UTAUS)

UT Austin, UT Health Science Center San Antonio, and UT San Antonio research teams have built an innovative system to power medical devices. This medical breakthrough will be compatible with commercial devices already on the market, and it has the potential to virtually eliminate concerns around the eventual need to replace a medical device battery due to limited charge, including the multiple risks and medical costs. This discovery is likely to have a profound impact, given that the number of Americans who require medical devices in the targeted market segment is expected to double from 5 million to 10 million in the next five years as the “Baby Boomer” population ages. 


UT Austin

Chem Production by Targetron Manipulation

Ellington, Andrew
Lambowitz, Alan

Group II self-splicing introns (Targetrons) enable the disruption and modification of individual genes and on the development of different applications. metabolic pathways. The technology will be used to develop and improve industrial processes involving metabolism, such as the production of amino acids by fermentation. Its versatile and facile manipulation of many different bacterial genomes or production systems opens a broad range of commercial opportunities in the pharmaceutical and specialty chemical industries. The issued and pending patents claiming the Targetron technology are exclusively licensed to InGex, LLC by UT Austin and Ohio State University where Dr. Alan Lambowitz has served as the principal investigator. InGex, LLC plans to sublicense the technology to a number of spin-off companies based in Texas, with each company focusing on the development of different applications.


UT Medical Branch Galveston

Smart IV Pump for Fluid Resuscitation

Kramer, George C.

Researchers at the U T Medical Branch have invented a small, lightweight and low cost IV pump that precisely monitors and controls the amount of fluid released to a patient to ensure that errors in over-resuscitation do not occur. The ”smart pump” has the potential to open a new market for emergency fluid therapy for pre-hospital care and in emergency departments.


UT Medical Branch Galveston

Dry Powder Pulmonary Drug Delivery

Kraft, Edward R.
Enkhbaatar, Perenlei

Researchers at the UT Medical Branch have improved on the pulmonary drug delivery for the treatment of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), diabetes, cardiac arrest and toxic gas exposure. The technology converts dry powder drugs into an aerosol form, which improves drug dosage upper limits, drug clumping, and administration device size. Devices produced using this technology will be used to launch a line of products that deliver aerosol formulation for several drugs.


UT El Paso

Rapid Manufacturing of Integrated Sys w/Embedded Elec Devices

Wicker, Ryan

Researchers at UT El Paso use Layered Manufacturing (LM) to improve the manufacturing process for multi-material 3D electronic devices by adding integrated sensors, actuators, power sources and some wireless communication capabilities. This process can improve defense and space systems, sensors, printable displays, RFIDs, photovoltaics, computer memory, and consumer electronics such as cell phones, MP3 players, GPS devices, flash drives, etc.


UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

in situ protein production using high-throughput micro-electroporation device

Cooper, Laurence

Researchers at UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have developed a new therapeutic platform for widespread application of genetically manipulated cells. The target market focuses on rare diseases with high treatment costs. Combining bioengineering with cell and gene therapies allows the researcher to "deliver cells as drugs" and commercialize cell-based immunotherapeutics.


UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Final Pre-IND studies of ALIIS

Dickey, Burton

Researchers at UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have developed a drug that stimulates the immune response and protects against specific infections. The Aerosolized Lung Innate Immune Stimulant (ALIIS) protects against pneumonia for patients whose immune systems are compromised and could be a significant defense against a bio-terror attack or epidemic.


UT Southwestern Medical Center Dallas

Integrated Patient Bed System

DiMaio, Michael

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have developed an integrated patient bed system, or “Smart Bed” that will enable self-contained, fully portable products to provide maximum care, safety and comfort to severely injured or ill patients. Necessary services and therapeutic protocols are digitally administered according to physician instructions. Wireless communications and data management allow remote/virtual control and operation. The Smart Bed is expected to be well suited for use in hospitals, remote care and long term care market segments.


UT Southwestern Medical Center Dallas


Garner, Harold

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have developed a microscope based on hyper-spectral imaging that enables simultaneous testing for many cancer types, including breast, lung, and colon. It can lead to better diagnosis by testing multiple pathologies at once.

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Round 2 Grant Awardees



Principal Investigator(s)


UT Arlington

Prosthetic Skin

Butler, Zeynep Celik
Butler, Donald P.

Researchers at UTA have developed prosthetic skin that can be used to improve the sense of touch in upper limb prosthetics while maintaining a compact size that does not interfere with precise motion control of the prosthetic limb. The invention would have a significant impact on the mobility and independence of consumers.


UT Austin

Fibrillar Hyaluronic Acid Hydrogels as Engineered Skin Substitute

Schmidt, Christine

The treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, chronic leg ulcers, and burns provide a market for engineered skin substitutes. A novel “crystal templating” technique has been invented to create a human skin substitute that also promotes the patient’s natural healing abilities. This is a platform technology for creating unique materials for a number of different applications such as tissue engineering, drug delivery, and membrane separation.


UT El Paso

NC1153 is a novel tyrosine kinase inhibitor for the prevention of organ transplant rejection

Kirken, Robert

There is a critical need for improved immunosuppressive treatments to effectively prevent the rejection of transplanted organs. Researchers at UTEP have discovered and developed a novel inhibitor for the prevention of organ or tissue rejection following transplantion. This unique therapeutic agent may also help reduce the minor side effects and toxicities that are associated with currently available drugs.


UT Health Science Center - Tyler

Single Chair Urokinase (scuPA) for Prevention of Pleural Loculation

Idell, Steven

UTHSCT researchers have developed the first ever drug treatment for scarring that can occur around the lungs of children and adults as a result of pneumonia. This drug treatment would reduce the incidence of surgery that is currently the standard of care. As a result, this technology would reduce medical costs and the rate of illness that often develops after surgery.


UT Southwestern Medical Center Dallas

Synthesis & in vitro/in vivo evaluation of the Vacuolar ATPase inhibitor Palmerolide as novel anticancer agent

De Brabander, Jef

Researchers at UTSWMC have developed a treatment for solid cancerous tumors that has less severe side-effects and is more effective than existing drugs. The drug treatment is particularly useful for cancers that are resistant to radiation and chemotherapy.


Round 3 Grant Awardees



Principal Investigator(s)


UT Arlington

Wireless Sensor Network with Ultra Energy Efficiency

Liu, Yonghe

UT Arlington researchers have developed a revolutionary wireless sensor system that can achieve 5-10 times higher energy efficiency than existing ones. The new technology directly addresses the long-term monitoring requirements for many applications, such as environmental and industrial monitoring, hazardous agent detection, telemedicine and agricultural monitoring.


UT Arlington

Nanoporous Membrane Blood Oxygenato

Chuong, Cheng-Jen
Eberhart, R.C.

Respiratory support devices that improve oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange assist patients awaiting lung transplantation and those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. UT Arlington and UT Southwestern researchers have partnered to design a revolutionary oxygenator that mimics the features of the natural lung, made possible with nanotechnology fabrication technologies uniquely available at UT Arlington. The result is improved efficiency and a reduction of side effects of current respiratory support devices.


UT Austin

Ultrafast Laser Scalpel with Imaging

Ben-Yakar, Adela

Researchers at UT Austin have developed a miniature medical device important for diagnostic imaging. This revolutionary device allows diagnosis and removal of small skin cancer lesions during a single out-patient procedure. The result is a substantial reduction in the number of patient visits and the amount of wait-time before diagnosis.


UT Dallas
UT Southwestern Medical Center Dallas

StoneMag: Kidney Stone Magnetic Retrieval System

Gnade, Bruce (UTD)
Cadeddu, Jeffery (UTSWMC)
Margaret Pearle (UTSWMC)

The StoneMag System is expected to enable, for the first time, a surgeon to effectively and rapidly retrieve all stone fragments from a kidney, significantly reducing operation time, treatment costs and the morbidity of stone recurrences.


UT Dallas

Optical motion tracker for MRI data alignment

MacFarlane, Duncan

UT Dallas researchers have developed technology that accounts for patient movement during Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Correcting for these movements improves the precision of images and resulting diagnoses.


UT Pan American

Multi-Level Superfine Fiber Creation

Lozano, Karen

A simplified nanomanufacturing process and a prototype research scale device have been developed to enhance research production of a variety of nanofibers resulting in lower nanofiber costs, higher yield, and increased processing safety.


UT Medical Branch Galveston

Needle-Electrode Anchor System

Raju, Gottumukkala S.

Researchers at UT Medical Branch have developed a novel device for performing tissue sutures in the colon. Specifically, the technology comprises an electrode-needle that facilitates cutting through thick tissue and delivers anchors through the tissue for performing an approximation. The device fits through the small channel of an endoscope. This technology overcomes the difficulty in closing resections in colon tissue and can be extended to use in other gastrointestinal tissues, following the removal of cancerous tumors.


UT Health Science Center - San Antonio

Fluidics Based Organ Preservation Device (FOPD)

Bunegin, Leonid

Researchers at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio have firmly established proof of concept of a prototype technology that is used to transport organs between donor and transplant sites. The technology is useful in preserving all solid organs as well as soft tissues. The Fluidics Based Organ Preservation Device reduces costs for production and marketing and may improve transplant outcomes when compared to existing technology.


UT Health Science Center - Houston

Guide View: Personal Expert Assistant

lyengar, Sriram

GuideView is a novel interactive software that helps users perform complex tasks easily and correctly use step-by-step instructions in a rich format containing text, audio, images, and video animation. It supports multiple languages and runs on various devices, such as cell phones, personal digital assistants, and personal computers.




Round 4 Grant Awardees



Principal Investigator(s)


UT Arlington

Optically Guided Needle biopsy System

Liu, Hanli

The proposed research is to develop and commercialize a low-cost, real time, optically guided needle biopsy system for improved prostate cancer diagnosis. Our technology uses steady-state, broadband, reflectance spectroscopy (SBRS) to help differentiate between normal tissue and cancerous tissue in-vivo. An optical probe compatible with the current needle biopsy setup will help make the diagnosis of the prostate cancer more accurate, less painful, and faster (real-time) as compared to the currently available technologies.


UT Arlington

Label-Free Detection and Quantification of Biomolecules

Digant, Dave
Timmons, Richard

UT Arlington researchers have developed an instrument that uses a label-free technique to screen and profile large and small biomolecules. Unlike other label-free techniques, this new technique does not require custom fabricated molecular surfaces which makes it suitable for a wide variety of biomedical applications. Other advantages include a lack of interference from labels, higher accuracy, and faster, less expensive assays.


UT Arlington

Microreactor, Natural Gas, Synthetic Fuel

Dennis, Brian H.
Priest, J.

Natural gas is an abundant and clean fuel in North Texas. The intent of this project is to build a bench scale “proof of concept process” that converts North Texas Barnett Shale natural gas to synthetic transportation fuels (GTL) such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The research team has proposed a cost effective, “clean” method using an innovative, microreactor design. The major advantage of this process will be that it produces a synthetic fuel that contains no sulfur, and offers the potential to produce synthetic fuels at low costs. If this proof of concept is successful, then a regional Texas oil company has committed to fund UT Arlington for the development of a full-scale “microrefinery” based on the researchers' microreactor process.


UT Austin

Device for Rapid Hypothermia Induction

Diller, Kenneth R

Researchers at UT Austin have developed a new technology for inducing a state of mild hypothermia for patients suffering from diminished blood flow to the brain without invasive procedures or use of pharmacological intervention. The new technology could solve a long standing medical problem at a relatively low cost with the potential for saving thousands of people who experience stroke, cardiac arrest, and traumatic brain injury.


UT Austin

Inhalable Tacrolimus Nanoparticles for Phase I/II Clinical Trials

Williams III, Robert

Researchers at UT Austin have developed a new manufacturing process that dramatically increases a patient's ability to absorb into their bloodstream previously unsuitable drugs for therapeutic use. Additionally, the team has applied a novel nanoformulation process to nanoparticle technology to a variety of pulmonary applications, including lung transplant and asthma.


UT Dallas

Universal High Performance Power Converter

Balsara, Poras T.
Hunt, L. Robert
Bhatia, Dinesh

Researchers at UT Dallas have developed a new generation of high performance power converters used in devices such as computers, automobiles, telecommunications, battery chargers, space systems, and satellites. This invention provides significantly enhanced performance and supports a wider range of output voltage compared to existing commercial products and offers a cost competitive solution.


UT Health Science Center - Houston

Liposome-Loaded Thrombolytic for Stroke Therapy

Klegerman, Melvin E. .

Researchers at UTHSCH have developed a novel drug to dissolve blood clots for the treatment of ischemic stroke while reducing hemorrhagic side effects. The researchers will demonstrate pre-clinical efficacy of the drug using rabbit models.


UT Medical Branch at Galveston

Endoscope with a Stimulating Electrode for Peripheral Nerve Blocks under Direct Vision For Surgical Anesthesia and Postoperative Analgesia

Solanki, Daneshvari

Peripheral nerve blocks are injections of anesthetic near nerves that go to an area of operation such as an arm, hand, let, or knee. They are currently done using imprecise techniques like nerve stimulation and ultrasound to locate the nerve amongst other tightly packed tissues (muscle, tendons, etc.). UTMB researchers have developed a technology that is an endoscope designed with a stimulating electrode using a needle rather than surgical incision, visualize the nerve directly, stimulate the nerve with an electrode, and deliver anesthetic to do the nerve block. Such a device removes the guess work of locating the nerve to be stimulated and anesthetized. It also prevents trauma to the surrounding tissues. The device will be useful in performing nerve blocks for patients that have a history of bleeding diathesis or are on anticoagulant drugs, for whom nerve blocks are normally contraindicated due to risk of bleeding.


UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Seeds and Markers for MRI-based Treatment

Frank, Steven J.

Researchers at UTMDACC have developed a drug that significantly decreases radiation exposure to the patient while increasing the accuracy of treatment delivery by the clinician. The incorporation of MRI with this novel technology can reduce side effects (e.g., incontinence, erectile dysfunction, rectal bleeding) and improve clinical outcomes.



Round 5 Grant Awardees



Principal Investigator(s)


UT Arlington

Unpowered wireless ultrasound sensing system

Huang, Haiying

Researchers at UT Arlington have developed a wireless sensor system that transmits ultrasonic waves using unpowered microwave components. The sensor could replace existing wired ultrasound sensors used in the aerospace industry, chemical plants, and manufacturing facilities for monitoring and inspection purposes.


UT Austin

Computer-Aided Detection of Breast Cancer

Markey, M.K.;
Bovik, A. C.

Researchers at UT Austin have developed a computer-aided system to improve the accuracy of breast cancer detection on mammograms. The technology could lead to earlier diagnosis of breast cancer, improving treatment options and increasing the survival rate.


UT Dallas

Improved SPECT Medical Imaging

Chaney, Roy C.

Researchers at UT Dallas have developed a patented method of improving gamma ray medical imaging, a cost-effective and widely adopted functional imaging technology.


UT El Paso

Bio-Inspired Heavy Petroleum Upgrading Process

Chianelli, R.R.

Researchers at UT El Paso have developed a novel process to upgrade heavy petroleum materials to clean transportation fuels at low temperatures and at atmospheric pressure. The result substantially increases available transportation fuels in the United States at a lower cost.


UT Pan American

3D Photonic Crystal Phase Mask Fabrication

Lin, Y.

Researchers at UT Pan American have developed a more precise, simpler, and cheaper fabrication method for photonic crystals used in semiconductors.


UT San Antonio

SIDS Baby Guardian

Ayon, A.A.

Researchers at UT San Antonio have developed a device to detect, monitor, and display breathing rates wirelessly. The device has applications for medical conditions such as SIDS, epilepsy, and sleep apnea.


UT Medical Branch Galveston

Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

Godley, B. F.

Researchers at UT Medical Branch have developed a technology that provides a non-invasive method using light and drug reservoir devices to introduce drugs into the eye without the use of needles. The system is safer and less expensive than ocular drug administration by needle injection.


UT Health Science Center - Houston

Salivary Breast Cancer Detection Platform

Streckfus, C.

Researchers at UT Health Science Center at Houston have discovered salivary biomarkers for the early detection of breast cancer. The test could assist in clinical decision making and reduce incorrect conclusions based on mammographic imaging.

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