BWHers Swim With the Sharks, Win $200,000 at "Shark Tank" Event

 BWHers Swim With the Sharks, Win $200,000 at

Winners of the BWH "Shark Tank" competition pose with ABC's "Shark Tank" personality Kevin O'Leary (center). From left: Benjamin Humphreys, Tracy Young-Pearse, O'Leary, Aditi Hazra and Jeff Karp.

On June 4, the Brigham Research Institute (BRI), along with Brigham Innovation Hub, held its "Shark Tank-style" competition in Bornstein Amphitheater, where BWH scientists competed for funding for their novel research projects. Excitement was in the air as BWHers gathered to hear innovative project pitches, as well as catch a glimpse of ABC's "Shark Tank" venture capitalist Kevin O'Leary, who volunteered his time to co-moderate the event.

"This event provided an avenue to broadly publicize and support highly innovative projects by BWH scientists that may eventually lead to discoveries that will improve patient care and treatment," said co-moderator Christine Seidman, MD, director of the BRI. 

Eight BWH scientists, selected from a pool of 70 applicants, were each given five minutes to pitch their research projects to a 14-person judging panel, followed by an intense question-and-answer session. Seidman and O'Leary both served on the panel, which was comprised of BWH scientists and prominent business industry leaders. After thoughtful deliberation, the judges selected four winners, who each received $50,000 grants to advance their ideas:

Aditi Hazra, PhD, of the Channing Division of Network Medicine, who pitched a study to prevent unnecessary cancer treatment in women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer.

Benjamin Humphreys, MD, PhD, of the BWH Renal Division, who pitched work focused on targeting scar tissue to treat heart failure and chronic kidney disease.

Jeff Karp, PhD, of BWH's Biomedical Engineering Division, who presented ways to stabilize bacteria living in the gut as a way to treat intestinal diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Tracy Young-Pearse, PhD, of BWH's Department of Neurology, who presented work on better understanding why some parts of the brain are resistant to Alzheimer's disease.