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2011 Entrepreneur Award Recipients Recognized Print Email

March 25, 2011

2011 Kauffman Foundation Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Awards Recognize Entrepreneurship Excellence in Postdoctoral Researchers

kauffmanThe National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation recognized two postdoctoral entrepreneurs at the opening session of the NPA's 9th Annual Meeting in Bethesda, Md. Noah Weisleder (left), Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer, TRIM-edicine, was named the 2011 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur, and Jason Holt (right), Ph.D., co-founder and chief technology officer of NanOasis Technologies, was named the 2011 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur. Weisleder received a $10,000 honorarium, and Holt received a $2,500 honorarium.

Sandra Miller (center), director of Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation at the Kauffman Foundation, presented the awards. "Postdoctoral scholars who take the entrepreneurial steps to get their research to market bring enormous potential to society and the economy," said Miller. "These awards aim to recognize and encourage entrepreneurial excellence in the scientific community."

The NPA received over 60 nominations for the two awards. Now in its second year, the award program is part of the Kauffman Foundation's ongoing effort to harness the entrepreneurial potential of postdoctoral researchers and scientists across the United States.

The Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Selection Committee were: Stacy Gelhaus, Ph.D., research associate, Center for Cancer Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania, and chair of the 2010 NPA Board of Directors; K. T. Moortgat, Ph.D., partner, MDV-Mohr Davidow Ventures; Avi D. Spier, Ph.D., director of Business Development, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF); Stephen Turner, Ph.D., founder, Pacific Biosciences, and the 2010 Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur; Lu Wang, Ph.D., principal engineer, Incube Labs LLC; and Cathee Johnson Phillips, NPA executive director.

The Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Selection Committee were: L. David Finger, Ph.D., Marie Curie international incoming fellow, Centre for Chemical Biology, Krebs Institute, University of Sheffield and NPA Board member; Gelhaus; Johnson Phillips; and Antonio Webb, Ph.D., chief product and development engineer, VesselTek Biomedical, LLC and the 2010 Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur.

The NPA anticipates announcing the call for nominations for the 2012 Kauffman Foundation Outstanding and Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur awards by June.

About the Award Recipients

Noah Weisleder received his B.S. in biotechnology and molecular biology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. in cell biology from Baylor College of Medicine. He conducted his postdoctoral studies at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School where he is now an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. During this time, he has published dozens of peer-reviewed publications or book chapters in the fields of muscle physiology, cardiovascular disease, cytoskeletal dynamics, membrane repair and cellular calcium homeostasis in normal physiology and disease states. He has chaired sessions at national and international meetings on muscle physiology and metabolism, and been invited to present his research at several international conferences. Additionally, he is an inventor of six published U.S. patent applications and numerous international patent applications. These inventions became the basis for formation of TRIM-edicine, a biotechnology company developing protein therapeutics targeting regenerative medicine applications, where he is a co-founder and chief scientific officer. At TRIM-edicine, located in North Brunswick, N.J., he oversees all developmental programs and manages partnerships with established pharmaceutical companies. He has received a fellowship from the American Heart Association and a Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institutes of Health.

Jason K. Holt is a co-founder and chief technology officer of NanOasis Technologies, Richmond, Calif., a San Francisco Bay Area startup focusing on the development of next-generation, low-energy membranes for seawater desalination. He has a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of California at Irvine and an M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. His doctorate work focused on methods for developing low-cost, thin-film silicon solar cells. After completing his Ph.D. studies, he joined Intel Corporation as senior process engineer. Eager to rejoin the research community, he left Intel to join Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) as a postdoctoral fellow in 2003 and was later promoted to staff scientist in 2006. His research at LLNL focused on nanostructured composite materials for applications in nanofluidics and filtration. This research culminated in an article in Science in 2006 and demonstrated the promise of carbon nanotube materials for high throughput filtration. To explore the commercial applications of this research, he entered the Siemens Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2007 and won first place for his business plan entitled "Carbon Nanotube Membranes for Desalination". This award attracted interest from the venture capital community and led to the founding of NanOasis in the summer of 2008. He is passionate about the development of technologies to solve global issues such as water scarcity and energy independence.

About the Kauffman Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people's eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. In addition, the Foundation focuses on initiatives in the Kansas City region to advance students' math and science skills, and improve the educational achievement of urban students, including the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, a college preparatory charter school for middle and high school students set to open in 2011. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets. For more information, visit, and follow the Foundation on and


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