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Drexel Startup Instadiagnostics Wins $4.1M DoD Grant

June 1, 2020

A startup spun out from Drexel University won a $4.1 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to support a point-of-care diagnostic platform that provides rapid disease screening results. The platform has the potential to promote early diagnosis and monitoring, which could significantly reduce health care costs and improve patient outcomes.

The platform is being developed by Instadiagnostics, founded by Drexel alumnus Johann deSa PhD ’10. It can detect disease biomarkers in bodily fluids during routine medical appointments, reducing the wait-time for results from days or weeks to about 15 minutes. The platform benefits from a technology that deSa co-invented in 2010 while he was a postdoctoral fellow in Drexel’s School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems. 

The grant comes from the Department of Defense’s Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP). The CDMRP was created by a Congressional appropriation in 1992 with a goal of transforming health care for members of the military and the American public by investing in paradigm-shifting research and solutions that will lead to cures or improvements in patient care, or breakthrough technologies for clinical benefit. The PRMRP was established in 1999 to support research and innovation across science and medicine.

With this grant, deSa will hire three full-time employees including Michael Neidrauer, assistant professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, who will be leaving Drexel to work with Instadiagnostics full-time. In addition, Instadiagnostics will expand its lab and office space, build device prototypes and conduct a pilot clinical study. 

“This is a major win for Instadiagnostics and the Drexel startup ecosystem, and another great example that showcases talent and innovation from Drexel’s nationally recognized Biomedical Engineering program,” says Aleister Saunders, Drexel’s executive vice provost for research and innovation.

deSa credits Drexel Applied Innovation for providing valuable help with technology commercialization.
“Drexel Applied Innovation’s Proof of Concept Academy gap funding enabled us to fill key gaps in our CDMRP proposal,” says deSa. “It also makes a huge difference to have a Drexel support team with past experience in founding and exiting university startups as a founder.”

“This CDMRP contract comes after Instadiagnostics’ progress with the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I and II as well as the Department of Health and Human Services SBIR Phase I,” says Shintaro Kaido, vice provost for innovation and executive director of Drexel Applied Innovation. Drexel Applied Innovation provides technology licensing, industry-sponsored research support and entrepreneurial-development services to support Drexel innovators. 

“Johann is a talented and resourceful ‘deep tech’ entrepreneur. Drexel Applied Innovation is excited to be a part of the Instadiagnostics’ commercialization journey,” says Kaido.