Leadership in Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program, better known as the LEAP Inventor Challenge (LEAP) exists to propel Washington University intellectual property towards commercialization. The competition supports all Washington University faculty, postdoc, staff and graduate student teams. Finalists are selected based on feedback from domain experts. They receive funding to help progress their early stage research from concepts and ideas to viable products and services.
Several university departments work together on LEAP to maximize industry engagement and funding opportunities. Such facilitators include the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Skandalaris), the Office of Technology Management (OTM), the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS), and the Center for Drug Discovery (CDD).
Jennifer A. Philips, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and molecular microbiology, Infectious Diseases Division, received the award for host directed metabolic therapy for TB, re-purposing an existing drug to treat Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the world’s leading infectious disease killer.
Jeffrey P. Henderson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and molecular microbiology, Infectious Diseases Division, and director of the Center for Women’s Infectious Diseases, also received a LEAP Award for his work on the “Virulence system of gram-negative enterobacteria as a therapeutic target”. The project focuses upon a new therapeutic candidate that selectively prevents pathogenic bacteria from causing disease while sparing beneficial microbes.
In 2016-2017, the Skandalaris Center and its partner organizations awarded over $718,000 in funding to Washington University-affiliated ventures. The center aims to inspire and develop creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at Washington University.