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Texas Students Win $25K at ORNL Nano Competition

April 12, 2007

Oak Ridge, Tenn.— A team from the University of Texas at Austin won the Nano Idea to Product competition held during Nano Nexus 2007 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory last week.

Luz Cristal Glangchai, Jakub Felkl, Abiola Ajetunmobi, ORNL Director Jeff Wadsworth, Nano Nexus Managing Director Joy Fisher, and Nicholas Rojeski

Pictured l-r: Luz Cristal Glangchai, Jakub Felkl, Abiola Ajetunmobi, ORNL Director Jeff Wadsworth, Nano Nexus Managing Director Joy Fisher, and Nicholas Rojeski. High-resolution version of photo

The business contest brought together 15 teams from 12 universities to pitch nanotechnology-based products and business concepts to a panel of judges from industry, academia and venture capital firms. The University of Texas at Austin received a $25,000 prize. Runners up were teams from Louisiana Tech, which placed second, and Vanderbilt universities.

The University of Texas team’s winning concept was an intelligent, nano-sized drug delivery device that can target tumor cells and release FDA-approved drug only in the presence of a cancer-specific enzyme. The technology, known as NANOTaxi™, is patent-pending and consists of a nanocontainer with a disease-responsive lid that dissolves only in response to a cancer-specific signal within a cancer cell. This allows for more effective delivery of the drug to cancerous sites and potentially reducing side effects.

Formed in a New Venture Creation class at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, the team included Cristal Glangchai, a PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering and co-inventor of NANOTaxi™; Abiola Ajetunmobi, who is earning an MS in mechanical engineering; Jakub Felkl, who is seeking an MA in Physics and Nicholas Rojeski, an MBA candidate.

"While we are a seed-stage company, the NANOTaxi™ could potentially improve cancer treatment as we know it,” Glangchai said. “The Nano Nexus conference allowed our team to pitch our technology and business plan to the world's top nanotechnology experts, and the $25,000 seed money will help us to complete our prototype.”

Major sponsors of Nano Nexus 2007 were the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Kauffman Foundation, Innovation Valley Nano Alliance, Technology 2020, Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), BASF Venture Capital America, Stipkala LLC and Research Triangle Institute.

For more information on the competition, go to

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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