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University Hospitals’ Disinfection Technology, Supported by UH Ventures’ Feuer Innovation Accelerator, Chosen for Department of Homeland Security Start-Up Program

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UH Clinical Update  April 2023

A unique, high-level disinfection system, first developed and tested at University Hospitals to disinfect PPE at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been accepted to be part of the 2023 Homeland Security Startup Studio (HSSS). UH is one of just 10 research centers nationwide and the only health system chosen to participate in this prestigious program.

HSSS was launched in 2021 as a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate and FedTech – a deep tech venture firm that supports federal labs, research institutions, universities and corporations.

Why it matters: This year’s projects align to the following homeland security R&D focus areas:

  • Border Security
  • Chemical, Biological and Explosive Defense
  • Counterterrorism
  • Cybersecurity and Information Analysis
  • First Responder Support and Disaster Preparedness
  • Physical Security and Critical Infrastructure Resilience

Prestigious collaborations: The disinfection system selected to be part of this year’s HSSS was developed in collaboration with NASA Glenn Research Center by UH researchers Shine Raju, MD, and Amitra John, MD. It uses a modification of an atomic oxygen (or oxygen free radicals) approach to disinfection and delivers high-level disinfection quickly and without the use of chemicals, reducing the potential for spreading infection. Dr. Raju and Dr. John are currently working on a second-generation prototype with UH Ventures, the innovation and commercialization arm of UH, with the goal of making high-level disinfection available outside of healthcare settings.

Feuer Accelerator Winner CelebrationPictured from left: UH CEO Cliff Megerian, MD, Shine Raju, MD, Amitra John, MD, and Michael Feuer at the 2022 ceremony awarding Feuer Innovation Accelerator funding.

“High-level Automated Atomic Oxygen Disinfection System, or HAADS, is a technological platform that is highly effective, while also being environmentally friendly,” says Dr. Raju, a specialist in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, who is board-certified in internal medicine, critical care medicine and pulmonary disease. “The HAADS device is currently in its early prototype stage and further validation and product development is needed for broad-based use. We are incredibly happy with the positive results so far and look forward to our partnership with UH Ventures and FedTech to get HAADS through the next steps in product development.”

“HAADS as a technology is fast and scalable, which makes it unique,” says Dr. John, a specialist from the same division, who is board-certified in internal medicine, infectious disease and critical care medicine. “Further iterations of the prototypes will focus on modularity and portability which will allow for widespread applications.”

Many potential applications: Already, the system has been shown to be effective in high-level disinfection of N95 masks. But Kipum Lee, Vice President, Innovation & Product Strategy at UH Ventures, says that may be just the beginning of how this technology could be implemented.

“A self-contained and automated disinfection system that builds on the method first used to disinfect space ships, this technology has potential for varied applications in commercial and residential use,” he says. “It’s safe, dry, fast, cost-effective, portable, scalable and environmentally friendly. The combination of these dimensions can solve some of the persistent problems of infection control in various venues such as daycare centers, sports facilities, cruise ships and/or military applications. The Homeland Security Startup Studio is a great opportunity to advance Dr. Raju and Dr. John’s invention from a validated prototype to a viable product.”

Next steps: The UH HSSS team will evaluate the opportunity to scale from business idea to company formation, working on technology that has immediate potential to enhance homeland security. The HSSS program aims to accelerate and deliver commercial applications of federally-funded technologies to meet homeland security needs. FedTech recruits and forms diverse teams of entrepreneurs and pairs them with ground-breaking technologies, such as HAADS, to assess their commercialization potential. The team will also work with lab inventors and explore forming companies to license and advance their matched technologies to the commercial market and to homeland security end users.

“We are excited for our inventors as they take the next step outside of UH to further develop their innovation,” says Kipum Lee from UH Ventures. “The team behind the UH Feuer Innovation Accelerator early concept development and funding program is extremely proud of the progress we’ve made together with Dr. Raju and Dr. John, and we look forward to the next stage of this exciting work.”

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