The 2021 Grossman Prize Will Support Research into Neurological Disorders

 Written by John Chadwick | SAS Senior Writer

KiBum Lee, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, has received the 2021 Grossman Innovation Prize from the School of Arts and Sciences.

The prize, made possible through a gift from Rutgers alumnus Alan Grossman, provides up to $50,000 over a one-year period to faculty members developing innovative ideas with commercial potential. The support allows recipients to develop their work to the proof-of-concept stage, when they would be eligible for venture capital funding and/or spin-off as an independent business. A distinctive feature of the prize is that undergraduate students are intimately involved in the research and development process.

The results were announced by Executive Vice Dean James Masschaele.

“We’re very grateful to Alan Grossman for his generous support of this program and very pleased to award the prize to KiBum Lee to support his cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases,” Masschaele said.

The support will allow Lee and his team to gain a deeper understanding of diseases such Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and other neurological disorders. The team is developing sophisticated technologies aimed at allowing scientists and clinicians to control gene expression and cell fate, which could lead to new and effective treatments for these devastating disorders. 

“It is a great honor and privilege to be receiving this award and I am grateful to Mr. Grossman for his generous support for Rutgers science programs,” Lee said. “In addition to the enormous potential for advancing human health, this project provides a critical learning experience for students that will build their skills in science, critical thinking, and leadership.

Lee has been a faculty member since 2008. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Northwestern University and completed his postdoctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute.

His primary research interest is developing nanotechnologies and chemical biology to influence the signaling pathways of stem cells and cancer cells towards specific outcomes and behaviors. From this research effort, he has developed innovative platforms that may overcome the barriers to harnessing the full therapeutic potential of stem cells and cellular reprogramming.

The Grossman Innovation Prize program, now in its third year, received four proposals ranging from a device that mimics the nursing process to a portable robotics platform for education and research. This year’s review committee consisted of SAS faculty, representatives from the Office of Research Commercialization, and four SAS alumni with industry perspective.

The Grossman Innovation Prize is made possible by a generous donation from Rutgers alumnus Alan Grossman. Mr. Grossman received his BS in Computer Sciences (with Honors) from Livingston College, Rutgers University and went on to complete an MS in Computer Sciences from Stevens Institute of Technology. He had a distinguished 25-year career in the telecommunications industry. Since its creation in May 2011, The Alan H. Grossman Annual Scholarship has provided financial assistance to nearly 20 Rutgers students.