Paving the path from laboratory to marketplace
“I’m excited that the Bakar Fellows Program can help advance the work of these innovative faculty — creating a community of dynamic young researchers who can rely on a strong network of experts to help bring their discoveries to the market.”
As a great research university located in a region that’s ground zero for science and technology-based industries, Berkeley plays a key role in making California’s economy one of the most vital in the world. The pilot Bakar Fellows program aims to take that economic impact to a new level by supporting innovative research by early-career faculty, with a special focus on projects that hold commercial promise.
Offering up to five years of research support, the program helps faculty introduce their discoveries to the market and build new entrepreneurial connections — from high-tech and biotech to agriculture and health care. Several Bakar Fellows have already founded companies or applied for patents for their work.
Lydia Sohn, associate professor of mechanical engineering and a 2013–14 fellow, is looking for ways to identify cells that lead to breast cancer metastasis, thus providing a means for early detection and treatment.
“This fellowship has been a fantastic opportunity to push the limits of the microfluidic technology we’ve been developing in the lab to screen cancer patients for disease, and to pursue a new area of research: single-cell sequencing,” says Sohn.
Founded in 2011, the program is currently funding 11 faculty members who are working on such projects as helping plants fight blight without the use of pesticides, improving communication between the brain and prosthetic devices for people with spinal cord injuries, and developing next-generation supercapacitors for better storage and delivery of energy. A third cohort of five Bakar Fellows will receive support in academic year 2014-15.