UVA LVG Seed Fund Portfolio

Merand Pharmaceuticals

Merand Pharmaceuticals is developing a novel microRNA therapeutic (MicroRNA93 or miR-93), which was discovered at UVA, to treat patients suffering from Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). UVA LVG facilitated the patent protection of the miR-93 technology and exclusively licensed it to Merand.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common, progressive circulatory issue that affects over 200 million people globally. Patients who suffer from PAD experience reduced blood flow to the legs, caused by blockages in the arteries which causes pain and non-healing ulcers that often lead to amputation. The miR-93 technology has shown to promote angiogenesis, or the development of new blood vessels, which leads to restored blood flow.

The miR-93 therapeutic was discovered by a research team in the lab of UVA Cardiologist and Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine Dr. Brian Annex. During his tenure at UVA, he was awarded more than $3M from the NIH to study its role in growing and stabilizing functional blood vessels to increase perfusion recovery and reduce inflammation in PAD. Dr. Annex co-founded Merand Pharmaceuticals with industry veteran Tony Giordano, Ph.D., to pursue the commercial potential for the therapeutic.

Direct Spinal Therapeutics, Inc.

Headquartered in Charlottesville, Direct Spinal Therapeutics, Inc. is a medical device company developing a Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) product-platform to enhance treatment for chronic back pain and other spinal cord injuries. The company’s IP2 technology is based on collaborative research and joint intellectual property from the University of Virginia and the University of Iowa.

DSTI was co-founded in 2013 by a team of two leading scientists in engineering and neurosurgery who are champions of translational research and innovation, and an industry expert with decades of experience working with early-stage medical device companies, all of whom are graduates of the University of Virginia.

  • George Gillies, Ph.D. is a UVA research professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering and a prolific inventor who holds more than 30 issued U.S. patents. He earned his Masters and Ph.D. in engineering physics from UVA, received the UVA Edlich-Henderson Inventor of Year Award in 2006, and was most recently named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2018.
  • Dr. Matthew Howard III is the chairman of the University of Iowa’s Department of Neurosurgery and an NIH funded expert in human neurophysiology. He is an experienced med-tech entrepreneur, an inventor holding 25 U.S. issued patents, and a graduate of the UVA School of Medicine.
  • Daniel O’Connell, co-founder and current CEO of DSTI, has 20 years of early-stage venture experience with a particular emphasis on university startups and working with their entrepreneurial founders. He has worked in the early-stage med-tech and Central Nervous System (CNS) technology space as an investor, founder, CEO, advisor, strategic development director, among other roles, and earned his MBA from the UVA Darden School of Business.  

BrightSpec, Inc. is a life science instrumentation company founded in 2012 and based on the research and patented technologies of UVA Chemistry Professor and 2017 Innovator of the Year Brooks Pate, Ph.D. 

For the last seven years, BrightSpec has been shaping the field of analytical chemistry and introduced an entirely new measurement technique into one of the most conservative fields in science: molecular rotational resonance spectroscopy. In 2016, the company brought the first product line of spectrometers based on molecular rotational resonance (MRR) spectroscopy to market. 

BrightSpec's recently announced Series B financing will support corporate development and a new product launch, and was followed by their announcement of a technology asset acquisition from BioTools, Inc. that will continue to grow their portfolio. 

Ceres Nanosciences Inc. (“Ceres”) is engaged in the research, development, and commercialization of innovative sample preparation products and diagnostic tests, based on its proprietary Nanotrap® particle platform. 

The Nanotrap® particles capture, enrich and preserve the most valuable biomarkers, enabling early and accurate detection of diseases such as cancer, cardiac, neurological, and infectious diseases, resulting in improved patient outcomes and reduced health care costs.

In July 2018, the Company received Breakthrough Device designation from the FDA for its point-of-care NanoTrap® Lyme Antigen Test System. 

510 Kardiac Devices, Inc. is an early stage medical device company developing novel technologies for cardiovascular surgical procedures. The company was co-founded by Dr. Scott Lim, an interventional cardiologist and the Director of the Advanced Cardiac Valve Center at the University of Virginia Health System and the company’s current CEO, Jaime Sarabia, a mechanical engineer with more than 18 years of experience in medical device ventures.

The company’s device, the Lim Transseptal System (LTS), works to increase the efficacy of operations on the left side of the heart. The Company is pursuing FDA approval of the device.

Mission Secure, Inc. (MSi) is a cyber security company based on research from the lab of Dr. Barry Horowitz of the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science. The patented MSi Platform provides monitoring, detection and corrective capabilities to the oil and gas, power, transportation and defense industries. 

Discovered by UVA Professor of Cell Biology and Ophthalmology Dr. Gordon Laurie, TearSolutions' first-in-class therapy is a synthetic form of the protein lacritin which targets the root causes of dry-eye disease. 


DexCom, Inc., a publicly traded company and leader in continuous glucose monitoring for people with diabetes acquired TypeZero Technologies in September 2018. This acquisition marks the first exit for the UVA LVG Seed Fund. 

The world leader in clinically tested automated insulin delivery solutions,TypeZero Technologies, Inc. is a digital health and personalized medicine company dedicated to revolutionizing the treatment and management of diabetes. TypeZero is combining next-generation data science techniques, proven metabolic models, and modern engineering practices to develop customized analytics tools and blood glucose control solutions to help people with diabetes improve their health and lives. TypeZero’s current solutions include a smartphone-based automated insulin delivery system, therapy optimization tools for health care providers, and advisory applications for smart insulin pens.