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Bioscience companies earn Flinn Foundation grants

Bioscience devises with ASU ties earn Flinn Foundation grants.
From curing jaundice to IDing epilepsy, ASU innovations win awards.
March 7, 2016

4 of 6 awardees have creations that originated at ASU

A light-emitting crib that cures infant jaundice, a tool to enable oncologists to personalize cancer-fighting drug cocktails and software that allows doctors to diagnose epilepsy on the spot are among the Arizona bio startup companies awarded development grants from the Flinn Foundation. 

Four of the six local bioscience companies that won Flinn Foundation Entrepreneurship Grants originated at Arizona State University — which does not have a medical school.

That has proved to be a hidden advantage, some of the grant winners said.

“I don’t think a medical school is the primary hub for medical technology to come out of,” said Vivek Kopparthi, co-founder and CEO of Neolight, a small, portable phototherapy bed that cures jaundice in pre-term and full-term babies. “It’s the engineering school and all the resources at ASU. … Every single resource I needed to build and scale this company ASU gave to me.”

Neel Mehta, co-founder and chief strategic officer of Epifinder, agreed.

“Having no medical school, we can think anything,” said Mehta, whose devise can help diagnose epilepsy. “Necessity is the mother of invention at ASU. We are so blessed and so grateful to have such a great community of all the colleges, from health solutions to business to engineering. It leaves students to mix and mingle and identify what they are passionate about.”

Each of the four companies received $30,000 from the Flinn Foundation, a privately endowed, philanthropic grantmaking organization established in 1965 by Dr. Robert S. Flinn, a prominent cardiologist, and his wife, Irene. The foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Arizona to benefit future generations.

Creativity and interdisciplinary approaches at ASU are direct causes of the quality of health care and biotech companies coming out of the university, said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, chief research and innovation officer and executive vice president at the ASU Knowledge Enterprise.

"There is immense opportunity for bioscience startups to address health challenges and develop unique solutions for them,” Panchanathan said. “ASU encourages this kind of grassroots innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. Our interdisciplinary approach ensures that students and faculty from any discipline have access to the resources they need to scale their innovative ideas resulting in global impact."

The winning firms in the 2016 Flinn Foundation Bioscience Entrepreneurship Program will also receive a set of program services administered through a nonprofit partner. The program was established to foster entrepreneurship and help early-stage bioscience firms develop into successful and sustainable businesses.

Here’s a look at the four companies:


Six out ten babies around the world are born with jaundice. Neolight is a small, portable phototherapy bed that cures jaundice in pre-term and full-term babies quickly and without side effects. The portable incubator with LEDs provides quick treatment time, reduces the amount of parts needed, uses a small amount of power and enables newborns to remain close to their mothers.

Researchers met with the Phoenix Children’s Hospital in the course of development. “They told us our device could solve problems they had with technologies in the U.S. market,” Kopparthi said. “With our device, the mother can hold the baby in her hand. … You don’t really have to be at the hospital to treat a baby for jaundice. … You’re saving tens of thousands of dollars.”

Neolight will be on the market by the end of the year. The Flinn Foundation grant will accelerate product funding.


There are more than 50 types of epilepsy, and it’s often challenging for physicians to identify what type of epilepsy a patient is suffering from.

“Experts told us they wish they had something that could diagnose patients at the point of care,” Mehta said.

They didn’t want another device; they wanted software. Epifinder is a smartphone software application which allows a physician to effectively diagnose epilepsy symptoms at point of care. It will reduce health care costs for hospitals, enable doctors to provide personalized medicine and help to improve the quality of life of patients.

Currently Epifinder is getting feedback from the Mayo Clinic. “We are in the closed beta phase of the software,” Mehta said. “It’s up and running.”

The company will launch publicly this year in May or June.


“We’re a tool that enables doctors and researchers to account for diversity in tumors,” said co-founder and CEO David Richardson. The Omica tool enables doctors to find a cocktail of drugs to fight cancer on a personalized basis by inserting a biopsy into a device.

“We’re a fancy dissection tool for biopsies,” Richardson said. “We’re enabling a person to identify what the cocktail should be.”

The Light Stream FloCell is capable of extracting a single cell or bulk cells from a targeted area, increasing the overall quantity and quality of cellular material collected.


The world’s first mobile metabolism tracker measures an individual’s metabolism through breathing. The Tempe-based company tracks one’s metabolism over time and integrates with weight, activity and dieting goals to provide customized feedback on reaching weight goals.

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU News

POSTPONED — Ethics and international relations scholar to speak about Islam, humanitarian intervention at ASU

March 8, 2016

Editor's note: Due to family reasons professor Sohail Hashmi is unable to come to Tempe at this time. His visit has been postponed to a date to be determined later; an announcement will be made as soon as it has been rescheduled. The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict apologizes for any inconvenience and thanks you for your continued support of our events.

The humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighboring states raises urgent questions about the responsibility of the international community — particularly the U.S. — to intervene to relieve human suffering.

As in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Libya, the use of military force for humanitarian purposes occupies a central place in that conversation. But in the wake of Western-led military actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the debate over intervening in Muslim-majority countries is deeply contentious, and the implications are grave.

Sohail Hashmi, Alumnae Foundation Chair and professor of international relations at Mount Holyoke College, will address these issues in a free public lecture titled, “Is There an Islamic Ethic of Humanitarian Intervention?”

The lecture will be held at noon, Wednesday, March 16, at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict in West Hall, room 135, on ASU’s Tempe campus.

As a specialist in religion and politics, Western and Islamic moral and political philosophy, and Middle East politics, Hashmi is particularly concerned with the religious and ethical implications of humanitarian and foreign intervention.

“In such crises, what response does Islamic ethics require from Muslim states and peoples?” asks Hashmi.

And within a secular framework of contested international norms for humanitarian intervention, he further inquires, “What is the place for religious conceptions of human rights and responsibilities?”

The field of ethics and international relations developed in the 1980s and 1990s, and Hashmi was among the earliest scholars to take up the challenge of humanitarian military intervention.

“Sohail Hashmi brings a crucial, often ignored perspective to the discussion of humanitarianism, especially relevant to the Syrian Civil War and refugee crisis we are witnessing today,” said John Carlson, acting director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and associate professor of religious studies.

“His work is particularly important for understanding how Islamic ethics provides guidance not only to Muslims, but also to non-Muslims and to those nations and organizations wondering whether and how to relieve human suffering,” said Carlson.

Hashmi raises pressing ethical questions that expand and sharpen our understanding of “the human” within “humanitarianism” — the various needs, impulses, intentions and actions that make humanitarian intervention such a difficult issue, according to Carlson.

“His work is particularly insightful for the attention he pays to the interaction among religious, secular and cultural ideas and discourses,” Carlson said.

Hashmi is author of numerous articles and the editor or co-editor of five books, including "Islamic Ethics: Civil Society, Pluralism and Conflict" (2002), which was named one of Choice magazine’s Outstanding Academic Books of 2003, "Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Religious and Secular Perspectives" (2004), and most recently, "Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges" (2012).

His current research focuses on Muslim responses to international law.

Hashmi holds a master’s degree in Near East studies from Princeton University and a doctoral degree in political science from Harvard University.

He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants — from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council and the W. Alton Jones Foundation. In 2005, he was named a Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Hashmi has taught a wide variety of classes at Mount Holyoke since 1994, including International Relations and Middle East Politics; Ethics and International Relations; Political Islam; and Just War and Jihad: Comparative Ethics of War and Peace.

He also lectures frequently to audiences around the country on topics relating to Islam in world politics, and led a major NEH-funded summer institute on “American Muslims: History, Culture and Politics.”

The lecture is part of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict’s “Conversations at the Center” speaker series. It is one of several activities exploring issues of human rights and humanitarian intervention under the Center’s Religion and Global Citizenship initiative, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

For more information and to register for the lecture, see the event page.

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict is an interdisciplinary research unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that examines the role of religion as a driving force in human affairs. Sohail Hashmi Download Full Image

Terry Williams

Communication and events coordinatior, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict