Innovation Catalyst Fund announces eight inaugural awardees; next round submission deadline is April 15

The first awardees for Vanderbilt’s highly competitive Innovation Catalyst Fund, an internal funding program to help streamline faculty research into real-world applications, include faculty from Peabody College, College of Arts and Science, the Vanderbilt School of Engineering and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The Vanderbilt Innovation Catalyst Fund, an initiative introduced last year with sponsorship from Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Information Technology Brett Sweet, received 24 submissions and will provide pre-seed funding for eight selected applications.

“This program demonstrates our commitment to taking groundbreaking research into commercializable products,” said Padma Raghavan, vice provost for research and innovation. Her division oversees the program in consultation with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Office of Research and academic leadership in the Vanderbilt schools and colleges. “The breadth of projects—from AI-powered reading aids for children to enhanced therapies for breast cancer patients—shows an impressive range of faculty-led innovations that address real-world challenges.”

The awardees are:

  • Amy Booth, professor of psychology and human development: “Advancing the Development of AIDA, an Artificially-Intelligent Dialogic Reading Aid”
  • Blythe Corbett, James G. Blakemore Chair in Psychiatry, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences: “Expanding SENSE Theatre to Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability”
  • Scott Crossley, professor of special education: “Proof of concept validation and data generation for intelligent Texts for Enhanced Lifelong Learning (iTELL)”
  • Abishek Dubey, associate professor of computer science: “Mobius, Inc.: Last-mile Freight Optimization for Heterogenous Fleets”
  • Daniel Fabbri, assistant professor of biomedical informatics: “DAGCAP: Democratized, AI-Guided Chart Abstraction Platform”
  • Alex Langerman, associate professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery: “GownCard Perioperative Workflow App”
  • Ethan Lippmann, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering: “Novel Hydrogel to Improve and Restore Blood Flow to Bone Tissues Through Activation of Arteriogenesis”
  • Megan Salwei, research assistant professor of anesthesiology: “Personalized training on deep inspiration breath hold (DIBH) to improve radiation therapy outcomes in breast cancer patients”

The Innovation Catalyst Fund Review Committee is made up of peer faculty from the university and medical center with expertise ranging from social sciences, arts and humanities to physical sciences, medicine and engineering. They provided all applicants with feedback on their proposals. Some proposals not selected for this cycle were referred to other programs and services on campus to be refined for potential resubmission.

The Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization manages the proposal submission and review process and coordinates with deans on related initiatives. The next application cycle closes April 15.

For more information on the Innovation Catalyst Fund and other funding opportunities, visit the Innovation Catalyst Fund website or email