Start-up founded by IGSB faculty wins $250,000 Polsky Center award

The finals, which took place May 31, featured five startups that presented their ventures to the Innovation Fund advisory committee at the college’s Polsky Exchange in Hyde Park. The Innovation Fund is designed to invest in startups created by the college’s faculty, students and staff.

BiomeSense is founded by Jack Gilbert, a professor of surgery at UChicago Medicine and the faculty director of the college’s Microbiome Center, Savas Tay, an associate professor at the Institute of Molecular Engineering, and Kevin Honaker, a recent graduate of UChicago’s Booth School of Business. Their sensors are based on research Gilbert and Tay have been working on for several years.

Gilbert said the sensors are designed for patients to use in their home, using a toilet accessory that captures samples of their feces. Data on what’s in it is then sent to a cloud where researchers and physicians can monitor and study it.

Honaker said the startup would begin by selling their device to researchers, who would then prescribe it to patients in their clinical trials. Eventually, the sensors could be sold directly to consumers, similarly to how 23andMe is sold.

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