NSF award brings Princeton research into the fight against COVID-19

Written by
Beth Jarvie, Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education
Jan. 14, 2021

A life science company born from Princeton laboratory research has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) small business technology transfer (STTR) grant for their technology, which can help create a more robust, versatile and potent COVID-19 vaccine.

Optimeos Life Sciences was founded by Keller Center faculty member Shahram Hejazi and Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Robert Prud'homme. The proposal, entitled “Formulation of a COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine by Inverse Flash NanoPrecipitation,” was based on research developed over a 20-year period in Prud'homme's laboratory.

This novel and scalable encapsulation vaccine delivery platform protects biologics and allows them to reach their intended targets within the body, resulting in a more stable, efficient and affordable COVID-19 vaccine. This technology may also address future pandemics more effectively.

NSF’s STTR program supports startups and small businesses in the translation of laboratory discoveries into societal benefits. In keeping with this objective and in light of the potential this technology has in combating the current global pandemic, the initial grant abstract was approved in an unprecedented ten hours.

The grant proposal included faculty company founders, Princeton alumni, and the partnership of Vice Dean for Innovation Rodney Priestley. "This award is, therefore, a true result of Princeton's innovation and entrepreneurship," Hejazi said.