Prof. Mark Saltzman Wins Blavtnik Grant For Nanoparticle Technology


W. Mark Saltzman, the Goizueta Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Michael Girardi, professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, were awarded the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale Pilot Grant. The $100,000 grant is for the researchers’ development of a multi-functional bioadhesive nanoparticle platform that has the potential to revolutionize the sunscreen industry.

The grant was presented May 10 at the fourth annual Yale Innovation Summit presented by the Office of Cooperative Research (OCR) and Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Nearly 600 were in attendance, including representatives from more than 35 venture capital firms. The event highlighted the expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem at Yale, particularly around biotech and tech discoveries. Seven other projects were awarded Blavatnik grants (four were for "development grants" and four were designated "pilot grants"), made possible by a new $10 million gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation to bridge the gap between breakthrough life science discoveries and high-impact products.

Go here to read more about the event and other award-winning innovations.

The nanoparticle platform is the basis of a sunblock that Saltzman and Girardi developed that doesn’t penetrate the skin, eliminating serious health concerns associated with commercial sunscreens. It’s made with bioadhesive nanoparticles, and stays on the surface of the skin. The nanoparticles are large enough to keep from going through the skin’s surface, and adhesive enough that they don’t go into hair follicles. 

The researchers tested their sunblock against direct ultraviolet rays and their ability to cause sunburn. Even though it used a significantly smaller amount of the active ingredient than commercial sunscreens, the researchers’ formulation protected equally well against sunburn.