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University of Maryland School of Medicine Hosts 'Shark Tank' Competition for Aspiring Medical Entrepreneurs

March 07, 2017

Competitors Pitch Experts on Stem Cell Banking, Better Cancer Monitoring, and Other Ideas

To encourage entrepreneurial leadership among its medical students, the University of Maryland School of Medicine hosted a contest to give aspiring student entrepreneurs a chance to share product ideas, with winners receiving cash prizes and expert help. The four finalists competed before a panel of judges, including doctors, researchers and investors, using a format similar to the popular television program “Shark Tank.”

The event, called the Lightbulb Competition, took place February 27 at the University of Maryland Biopark. Students, business leaders and faculty from the School of Medicine were all in the audience. The keynote speaker was Alfred Berkeley, the former president of NASDAQ and Chairman of Princeton Capital Management.

Prior to the event, the competitors went through pitch training with a volunteer from the Baltimore Angels, an angel investing firm based in Baltimore, as well as a staff member from the School of Medicine.

The winner of the competition was Nanobernetics, LLC, which has an idea for a device for monitoring molecular remission in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. They won $500 and a three-month membership to Betamore, a non-profit working to develop Baltimore into a global hub for entrepreneurship and education for the twenty first century. Second Place went to AgamiLife, Inc., which won $250, while EasyGene came in third, winning $100.

The four finalists were:

  • AgamiLife, Inc., a stem cell banking service for people undergoing tonsillectomies. Tonsils are discarded after being removed, but these students propose saving them as a way to harvest stem cells. The team included Ben Portney (PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) and Alex Meltzer (PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), and David Hurwitz, MBA, a medical school student (Class of 2019).
  • Nanobernetics, LLC: The team employs newly developed carbon nanotube technology that uses electrical current to very precisely detect levels of cancer cells. The team included Elizabeth Weingartner (PhD student in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology) and Camilo Vanegas (PhD student in Molecular Medicine), and Michael Lee, an MD/PhD candidate.
  • EasyGene, a new method for early detection of lung cancer. Now, lung cancer is typically not detected until much later. The team included Tyler Gable (PhD Molecular biology - cancer biology) and Edward Cherok (PhD student in Molecular Medicine), and two medical school students, Wesley Chan (Class of 2019) and Azam Qureshi (Class of 2018).
  • IM-Print, a way to get immunization records by fingerprint. This s an app that will store immunization records by fingerprint. Now, doctors have a hard time getting these records; typically patients must get immunized again if there are no records. The team consisted of Albert Zhou, MD/PhD student, PhD in Epidemiology & Human Genetics.

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Commemorating its 210th Anniversary, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 and is the first public medical school in the United States and continues today as an innovative leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland and is an integral part of the 11-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists plus more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S. with top-tier faculty and programs in cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, vaccine development and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the nation, but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 35 countries around the world.

Learn More

• The Lightbulb Moment Competition


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Baltimore, Maryland 21201-1559

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