In 2015 Illinois Tech Trustee Madhavan Nayar (M.S. IE ’68) and his wife, Teresa, on behalf of the Nayar Family Foundation, established a $1 million gift to fund the Nayar Prize to challenge Illinois Tech faculty, staff, and students to develop breakthrough, innovative projects that will, within three years, produce meaningful results with a societal impact. Last November one team—the ADEPT Cancer Imager—was selected to advance to the second phase of the prize cycle and was awarded $200,000 to continue its work over a two-year period. Upon the successful completion of benchmarks and performance metrics set by the team and approved by the Steering Committee, team members will receive $500,000.
The ADEPT team comprises Kenneth Tichauer—Department of Biomedical Engineering, Jovan Brankov—Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering), and Rajendra Mehta—Department of Biology, IIT Research Institute. The imaging system will be capable of spatially mapping the variable characteristics of cancers at the cellular level. By doing so it will help to identify patients with more aggressive forms of cancer as well as to identify new effective drugs designed to handle disease variability. In the first phase of the competition, the team developed an imager prototype and applied for a patent. In the second phase the team will collaborate with two cancer experts from the University of Chicago and Georgetown University. They will assist team members in bridging the gap between testing the ADEPT system and using it in hospitals.
The Nayar Family Foundation announced a second Nayar Prize in 2016. Three teams of researchers were selected for the first phase of the prize cycle: A Data-Driven Crime Prevention Program (Miles Wernick, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Lori Andrews, Chicago-Kent College of Law; and Yongyi Yang, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering); Cyberbullying Early Warning and Response System (Libby Hemphill, Department of Humanities and Aron Culotta, Department of Computer Science); and Microfluidic Drug-Microbiota Interaction Platform (Abhinav Bhushan, Department of Biomedical Engineering; Genoveva Murillo—Department of Biology, IIT Research Institute; and Rajendra Mehta, Department of Biology, IIT Research Institute).
Visit web.iit.edu/nayar-prize to learn more about Nayar Prize I and Nayar Prize II.