Congrats to two of our students and San Antonio women entrepreneurs Bianca Cerqueira and Lauren Cornell of NovoThelium. They have been selected among the best of the best startups in the nation as contenders for the final pitch competition at the Rice Business Plan Competition 2017 in Houston.
The Rice Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition. It is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which is Rice University’s flagship initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship, and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. This is the 16th year for the competition. In that time, it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001, to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes.
According to their website, “One in eight women will have breast cancer in her lifetime. In the United States alone, there are approximately 2.8 million breast cancer survivors with 106,338 undergoing breast reconstruction in 2015.”
Cerqueira and Cornell’s company NovoThelium is working to revolutionize nipple reconstruction using tissue engineering technology so that reconstructed nipples maintain projection, pigmentation, and sensation.
Bianca Cerqueira is a doctoral candidate in Biomedical Engineering at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio/University of Texas at San Antonio. She has a Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neurobiology from University of Maryland. Bianca began her career in science at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the Department of Casualty Research studying blood additive solutions. While in graduate school, she researched effects of chronic intermittent hypoxia (a model of sleep apnea) on transient cerebral ischemia in rodents utilizing multimodal MRI, behavioral tests, and histology. Cerqueira has many years of experience in cell culture, nucleic acid testing, medical imaging, small animal surgery, IACUC and IRB protocols, Good Laboratory Practice, project management, and experimental design with a focus on translational research.
Lauren Cornell is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Translational Science at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She holds a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University Of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She has a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from Texas A&M University. Cornell began her career in science at the University of Oxford in the Zoology department studying the origin of mankind and later moved on to focus on tissue engineering in the areas of materials development, nanoparticles, and guided nerve growth. She is currently participating in a post-graduate fellowship at the United States Army Institute of Surgical Research in the Department of Ocular Trauma where she is principal investigator on a corneal graft replacement research project. For the past five years, her research has focused on tissue engineering methods, with focus on stem cells, decellularization and sterilization methods of multiple tissue types, animal models and surgical techniques.