IF-LOGO-COLOR (1)Doctors customizing health care to fit your DNA, scientists transforming cities, tech company founders, and many more University of Chicago pioneers are gathering this May for three weeks of dynamic events as part of the first UChicago Innovation Fest.

More than a dozen University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) and Biological Sciences Division (BSD) faculty are showcasing how they’re at the forefront of transforming health care at this year’s festival that kicks off May 12 and runs through June 2, with more than 35 sessions scheduled across the Windy City and UChicago’s downtown and Hyde Park campuses.

Join us to share big ideas, rub shoulders with leaders in business, healthcare, tech, and social policy, and find new collaborators.

“This event highlights how UChicago’s groundbreaking research is translated into real-world medical, commercial, and business applications that are improving the health of people in this city and around the world,” said Julian Solway, MD, and Susan Cohn, MD, Co-Directors of the Institute for Translational Medicine that is co-organizing the festival. “We welcome the entire UChicago and Chicagoland communities to attend, and we look forward to the new partnerships that will be sparked there.”

What started two years ago as a single week highlighting the Shark Tank-style Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation has now expanded into a city-wide celebration of cutting-edge projects to solve the major problems facing Chicago and global communities.

“The sheer number of these events is a testament to the breadth of transformational research taking place at the University,” said Steve Kuemmerle, deputy director for UChicagoTech, one of the organizations co-organizing the festival. “We are proud to highlight our researchers and bring additional attention to technologies that can have significant positive social and economic impact.”

This annual festival is led by UChicago’s innovation leaders, including the Polsky Center, the Chicago Innovation Exchange, the Social Enterprise Initiative, UChicagoTech, the Institute for Translational Medicine (ITM), and Arete. Additional sponsors include UChicago Urban, UChicago Urban Labs, and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

Check out the below UCM & BSD faculty who are presenting, register to attend, and view a complete Innovation Fest schedule.

The Push for Precision: Cutting-Edge Tech Transforming our Healthcare

Thursday, May 19, 2016  |  6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at MATTER Chicago

With big data booming and the technology to explore your genome more accessible than ever, precision medicine is changing health care and saving lives. Join us for an evening of TED-style talks from UChicago faculty members who are using their research to change the health care system and build dynamic companies that tailor the world of medicine to YOU.

This UChicago Innovation Fest event is free and open to the public. A brief reception and networking will follow the talks.


Robert Grossman, PhD

UChicago Professor of Medicine; Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Genomic Data Commons

Bob has been a leader in big data and data science for more than 20 years. He is now leading a project to build an open source platform for genomics and associated clinical data for National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded projects called the NCI Genomic Data Commons. The Genomic Data Commons analyzes the data submitted to it using a common set of bioinformatics pipelines to create one of the largest collections of uniformly analyzed cancer genomics data in the world. Bob is an expert in using data science to make predictions for businesses, and he has used those skills to launch two successful data science companies – Magnify (which is now part of Lexis-Nexis) and Open Data Group.


David O. Meltzer, MD, PhD

UChicago Pritzker Professor of Medicine, Economics, and Public Policy; Chief of Hospital Medicine; Director of Center for Health and the Social Sciences; UChicago Urban Health Lab; CAPriCORN Steering Committee

David is disrupting the health care system by fusing his expertise in medicine and economics to improve the quality of care and decrease its costs. He built a new health care model where patients have the same doctor in the clinic as they do when hospitalized, and he is studying whether this personalized relationship with one physician leads to better, tailored health care and lower costs. David is also a pioneer of launching collaborations among top Chicagoland research institutions, which led to the Chicago Area Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Network (CAPriCORN). CAPriCORN is a partnership among more than nine local health systems, nonprofits, and city groups to share data and accelerate the speed at which clinical trials are done, incorporating precision medicine to study specific patient groups and quickly identify the best treatments for them.


Peter H. O’Donnell, MD

UChicago Assistant Professor of Medicine; Leader of The 1200 Patients Project and Genomic Prescribing System (GPS)

Peter is a respected cancer doctor and an expert in personalized medicine, studying the characteristics of DNA that determine whether a prescription will help or hurt a patient. He leads The 1200 Patients Project, where those enrolled give a blood sample that is analyzed and categorized based on the person’s genetic profile. That profile is compared to a research database of medicines and their side effects, and the results are shared with the patients’ UChicago Medicine doctors through an online portal called the Genomic Prescribing System (GPS). This allows physicians to literally tailor drug treatments to their patients’ DNA in less than a minute. Peter is working to scale and commercialize the technology so that it can also benefit those outside UChicago Medicine.

Mark Ratain_C
Mark Ratain, MD

UChicago Professor of Medicine; Director of the Center for Personalized Therapeutics

Mark, a leader in the field of personalized medicine, is moderating the evening. Mark is the Director of UChicago’s, Center for Personalized Therapeutics, which uses patients’ genetic profiles to customize their health care. The Center houses several precision medicine projects, including the Genomic Prescribing System. Mark has been involved in the development of cancer drugs for more than 30 years. The ultimate goal of his research is to help tailor medicines to a person’s unique genetic makeup, which will ultimately make medications safer and more effective for everyone.


Samuel L. Volchenboum, MD, PhD

UChicago Associate Professor of Pediatrics; Director of the Center for Research Informatics

Sam is an expert in pediatric cancers, and he leads UChicago’s Center for Research Informatics, where big data is applied to speed up clinical trials and make complex studies possible. He is a leader in bioinformatics, using tools from the world of computer science to solve biology problems and improve the lives of patients. Sam launched a company called Litmus Health that pulls all your data from everything from smartwatches to Fitbits to home sensors, stores it in a cloud, and connects it to relevant health markers. It harnesses the continuous stream of data already collected by the devices to make clinical trials easier and more accurate for participants and researchers.

Entrepreneurship & Translational Science Lunch

Wednesday, May 18, 2016  |  12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. UChicago Medicine, Room L-107

How do you translate a research or lab finding into a successful company? Hear from those who have been there and done that at the UChicago Innovation Fest Entrepreneurial and Translational Science Lunch. UChicago faculty and staff will enjoy a candid conversation about the commercialization journey from a panel of seasoned academics-turned-entrepreneurs.

They’ll share how they translated their research into successful businesses, licensing deals, and more, as well as what UChicago resources helped make the magic happen. This event and free lunch is open to UChicago faculty and staff.

You’ll Hear From:


David Beiser, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine

David is the co-founder of Qualia Health, whose smartphone app is being leveraged by everyone from pharmaceutical companies to UChicago researchers to Stanford University. His team is also an alum of the prestigious TechStars startup incubator program in New York City.


Ben Glick, PhD, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology

Ben is president and chief scientist of SnapGene, which licenses unique software to plan, visualize, and document molecular biology procedures. His team won Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the NIH to develop the software.

Maryellen Giger, PhD, Professor of Radiology

Maryellen is the co-founder and scientific advisor of Quantitative Insights, which has developed a software platform that helps radiologists make faster and more accurate breast cancer diagnoses. Her company is a two-time Innovation Fund award recipient, and it is awaiting FDA clearance on the software.


Jeffrey Hubbell, PhD, Professor of Molecular Engineering Innovation

Jeffrey has founded three companies based on his research. Kuros Biosurgery, based in Zurich, is developing tissue repair agents. Anokion, based in Lausanne, is creating technology to prevent immunity to protein drugs that could otherwise cause an adverse response. And Focal, Inc., was based in Massachusetts and created surgical sealants until biotech company Genzyme Biosurgery acquired it in 2001.


Scientist as Entrepreneur: Harnessing UChicago Research for the City of the Future

Wednesday, May 25, 2016  |  6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 1871 in Merchandise Mart


Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH

Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pediatrics; Co-Founder of Game Changer Chicago Design Lab

This event will focus on the ways in which research and innovation on campus can help to transform our cities – specifically, how researchers use entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial skills to translate their work. Top researchers from UChicago will present on an issue facing our cities and then will discuss this work and other topics in a panel discussion. This event is free and open to the public.


SEI: A Conversation on Entrepreneurship and Social Justice with NowPow

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 | 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Charles M. Harper Center, Room C-25



Stacy Lindau, MD, Associate Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Medicine-Geriatrics

What if everyone had ready access to the resources they needed to stay well and live long? Join the Social Enterprise Initiative for a conversation on entrepreneurship and social justice moderated by Chicago Booth deputy dean Stacey Kole with NowPow’s Stacy Lindau, MD, and Rachel Kohler, MBA ’89.

UChicago Innovation Fund Finals

Wednesday, June 1, 2016  |  7:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE)

Innovation Fund Demo Day will kick off with a keynote from Inc. Editor in Chief, Eric Schurenberg, and then feature the five Innovation Fund finalists who will pitch their breakthrough technologies and compete for a portion of the $20M UChicago Innovation Fund. This cycle we’ll hear from a diverse set of technologies, including companies focused on DNA replication, voting, cancer treatment, obesity and language, all with a high potential for societal impact.  After the public portion of the event that ends at 10:15 a.m., judges will hear due diligence on the companies from our Innovation Fund Associates and decide which technologies will win an investment. Breakfast will be served.



Eric M. Brey, PhD, ITM Affiliate, Professor of Engineering at IIT


Ronald N. Cohen, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine


Andrey Rzhetsky, PhD, Professor of Medicine

Other science-related UChicago Innovation Fest events include:

Systematic Serendipity: How to Engineer a Scientific Breakthrough

Friday, May 13, 2016  |  3:30 – 6:00 p.m. (including reception)

Learn from UChicago faculty in psychology, neuroscience, and physics about what research can do to help tackle society’s biggest challenges. Monika Bickert, head of Facebook’s Global Policy, will speak about the importance of collaboration with research universities. This event is also part of the Illinois Science Council’s Chicago Science Fest, which runs from May 13–14.



Science on the Screen: Ex Machina

Saturday, May 14, 2016  |  7:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Attendees will watch the award-winning film Ex Machina and discuss machine learning, neuroscience, and the ethics of artificial intelligence with leading University scientists.



Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) Seminar: Dan Nocera on Energy Innovation

Wednesday, May 18, 2016  |  3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Dan Nocera, leading researcher in renewable energy, will discuss his group’s breakthrough discoveries that address renewable energy’s key challenge of energy storage and how he is bringing them to market.



Argonne Out Loud featuring Seth Darling

Wednesday, May 18, 2016  |  6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Seth Darling, Argonne National Laboratory scientist and IME fellow, will explain how the world is approaching the end of abundant, safe freshwater and discuss his research on ways to respond.



Critical Computation: An Artist’s Work with Data and Algorithm

Tuesday, May 24, 2016  |  6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Join Jason Salavon, professor of Visual Arts, for a discussion of his Neubauer Collegium project, which explores machine learning methods for visual art and design.


About UChicago Innovation Fest

UChicago Innovation Fest, a three-week celebration of the University of Chicago’s entrepreneurial and innovative advances and solutions, kicks off May 12 and runs through June 2, with more than 35 sessions scheduled across the city and UChicago’s downtown and Hyde Park campuses. Join us to share big solutions to problems in Chicago and across the globe, find new collaborators, and rub shoulders with leaders in business, health care, tech, and social and environmental policy. Highlights of this year’s celebration include the 20th anniversary of the Polsky Center’s Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge, a behind-the-scenes look at life as an entrepreneur at the university’s Chicago Innovation Exchange, and events featuring faculty who are bringing groundbreaking advances out of the lab and classroom.

This annual festival is led by UChicago’s innovation leaders, including Arete, the Chicago Innovation Exchange, the Institute for Translational Medicine, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Social Enterprise Initiative, and UChicago Tech. Additional sponsors include UChicago Urban, UChicago Urban Labs, and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. Learn more at