2023 Fralin Health Sciences and Technology Commercialization Fellows Program

Doctoral candidates, postdoctoral researchers, and research assistants/associates from across Virginia Tech who conduct health sciences and technology-related research are eligible to apply. The program runs annually from March through December and Fellows are expected to contribute no more than four hours per week to the program, with the exception of Boot Camp training in April.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Feb. 27, 2023.

If you have any questions about the Fralin Health Sciences and Technology Commercialization Fellowship Program, please contact Hal Irvin.

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By the end of the Fralin Health Sciences and Technology Commercialization Fellowship Program, Fellows demonstrate their knowledge by identifying a commercial idea, researching it with the support of a mentor, and pitch preliminary findings about the idea’s value proposition and market potential to a panel of entrepreneurs. Applicants are not required to have a commercial idea related to their research at the time of application. 

The Fellowship program is closely linked to the Roanoke-based Regional Acceleration and Mentoring Program (RAMP) in-residence program for high-potential startups. Fellows will participate in the same boot camp program as individuals from RAMP accelerator companies. 

  • To learn more about the Fellows Program, you can register here for a virtual information session with former participants from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2023.
  • Before applying, talk to your supervisor to ensure that they agree to your participation in the fellowship program, and please note their approval on your application.
  • Complete your application online before 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27.


  • Josie Duncan, Ph.D. Student, Virgnia Tech. Josie, mentored by Steve Turner, CEO of CytoRecovery, participated as a fourth-year Virginia Tech Mechanical Engineering graduate student in the Department of Mecchanical Engineering. Josie's commercialization idea was a standardized benchtop microfluidics platform that is universally compatible with a variety of microdevices. 
  • Kijana George, Ph.D. Student, Virginia Tech. Kijana, mentored by Kevin Kallmes, CEO of Nested Knowledge and of Conway Medical, participated as a fifth-year student in Virginia Tech Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health Graduate Program. Kijana's project centererd arround an automated citation checker, which enabled verification of source material supporting the claims of scientific grants and manuscripts. 
  • Eli Mejija, Ph.D. Student, Virginia Tech. Eli, mentored by Ken Farrris, President of Brookewood Management Advisors, participated as a third-year Electrical Engineering graduate student in Virginia Tech's Department of Electrical Engineering. Eli's commercialization idea was to develop a bio-interfacing platform and biosensing chip to facilitate genetic engineering projects.
  • Azin Pourkhalili, Ph.D. Student, Virginia Tech. Azin, mentored by Dr. Mary Miller, Director of RAMP, participated as a fourth-year graduate student in Human Nutrition, Food, and Exercise. Azin's project was to develop a nutrition education program for older adults. 
  • Ruhit Sinha, Ph.D. Student, Virginia Tech. Ruhit, mentored by Dr. John Robertston, CEO of DialySensors, Inc., participated as a second-year Engineering Mechanics graduate student in the Virginia Tech Department of Biomechanical Engineering and Mechanics. Ruhit's commercialization idea was a stage-specific treatment to chronic kidney disease patients with the most suitable hemodialyzer. 


  • Allison Bouslog (Gallucci), Ph.D., Virginia Tech. Allison participated as a Virginia Tech translational biology medicine and health (TBMH) graduate student working in both the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute's Sontheimer Lab,  and the Campbell Lab in Animal and Poultry Sciences, College of Agriculture.  She proposed the development of a CRISPR kit for microbiome knockdown in rodent models. Her mentor, Rich Juelis co-chairs the Life Science Committee for the Bay Area angel investing group, Band of Angels, and retired financial executive of several pharmaceutical companies.
  • Katherine Degen, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate, Mittal Lab. Katie's idea built on her doctoral research on neural networks. Her commercialization goal is to implement a clinical decision support model to assist surgeons in breast reconstruction that can improve patient outcomes resulting in additional revenue and minimized liability for the hospital system. Katie did not have a mentor, but chose to reach out to several of the individuals she met through the program, including Rich Juelis.
  • Maruf Hoque, Ph.D. student, Virginia Tech. Maruf participated as a TMBH graduate student in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute's Chappell Lab. His commercialization goal, based on ongoing work in the Chappell Lab, is to develop a diagnostic tool that uses PDGFRb (a protein associated with pericytes, a cell that wraps smaller blood vessels such as capillaries) as a diagnostic marker to detect kidney cancer. His mentor was Douglas Grider, M.D., President and Managing Partner of Dominion Pathology, as well as an associate professor and vice chair for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine's department of basic science education.


  • Amnah Eltahir, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate, Montague Lab. Amnah participated as a graduate student in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute's Montague Lab in the final year of her biomedical engineering doctoral program. Amnah’s commercialization interest was a software to provide a physician friendly readout of chemical analyte concentrations over time from chronically implanted electrodes during epilepsy monitoring. Her mentor was Anne Brown, Ph.D., assistant professor of health science informatics, and co-founder of DESA.
  • Matt Kocher, Ph.D. candidate, Virginia Tech. Matt participated as a TBMH graduate student working in the Good Lab in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' department of human nutrition, foods, and exercise. Matt’s commercialization interest was for improved bacterial DNA purification from drinking water and groundwater samples. His mentor was Matt Hull, Ph.D., president and owner of NanoSafe, Inc. and program manager for Nano-Bio Interface and Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Virginia Tech's Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS).
  • Joelle Martin, Ph.D. candidate, Virginia Tech. Joelle participated as a TBMH graduate student working in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute's Sontheimer Lab. Her commercialization idea was a hospital inventory management system to reduce waste. Her mentor was Cynthia Lawrence, owner of PerformanceLink and Design Marketing, and director of Carilion Clinic's Office of Workforce Development.
  • Demisha Porter, Ph.D. candidate, Virginia Tech. Demisha participated as a TBMH graduate student working in the Morton Lab in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine's biomedical sciences and pathobiology department. Her goal was to commercialize antimicrobial contact lenses with cutting-edge nanotechnology for postoperative care. Her mentor was Mark Van Dyke, Ph.D., who currently serves as the associate dean for research in the University of Arizona College of Engineering.
  • Kevin Pridham, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate, Gourdie Lab. Kevin participated while working as a postdoc in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute's Zheng Lab. His commercialization goal was based on work from the Sheng Lab to develop a new therapeutic drug for treating glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and most deadly form of brain cancer. His mentor was Jeff Strovel, Ph.D., CEO of VERALOX Therapeutics.
  • Rachana Somaiya, Ph.D. candidate, Virginia Tech. Rachana participated as a TBMH graduate student working in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute's Fox Lab. Her idea was to develop a web-based platform to match up students knowledgeable in lab techniques with students who would be willing to pay to learn those techniques. Rachana did not have a mentor, but received advice and guidance from numerous Virginia Tech faculty.

2018 (Only open to graduate students and postdocs at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute)

  • Harsh Deshpande, Ph.D., currently a postdoc at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Harsh participated as a graduate student in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute's LaConte Lab in the final year of his doctoral program in Biomedical Engineering.  He focused on neuromarketing in his Fellowship. His mentor was Geoff McCarty, founding partner at Growth Solutions, and former vice president for marketing at Luna Innovations.
  • Daniel Hoagland, Ph.D., currently a scientist with the Alcami Corporation. Daniel participated as a postdoctoral researcher from the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute's Gourdie Lab. Daniel focused on a novel conduction associated arrhythmia prevention drug. His mentor was Ashu Jain, founder of Blue Ridge Innovation Management Advisors.
  • Ryan King, Ph.D., currently a postdoc in the Fralin Biomedical Researh Institute's Johnstone Lab. Ryan participated as a graduate TBMH student in the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute's Poelzing Lab. He developed an idea for a web-based matching platform for postdocs and job opportunities. His mentor was Russ Ellis, president of gNext Labs, and president of Common Wealth Growth.