Vizuete receives $50,000 award from the NSF I-Corps

October 22, 2012
Dr. William Vizuete

Dr. William Vizuete

The National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps) has awarded $50,000 to William Vizuete, PhD, and his team to develop a company that will commercialize a patented air pollution technology developed at UNC laboratories. Vizuete is associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Team members include Ken Sexton, PhD, research assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering, and Christopher Price, president of BioDeptronix LLC, the new company being funded.

NSF I-Corps’ primary goal is to foster entrepreneurship that will lead to the commercialization of technology previously supported by NSF-funded research. Their award to Vizuete will help commercialize a process that uses human lung tissue to determine the toxicity of air.”We know that air pollution is linked to detrimental health effects, but we don’t know what part of that complex mixture of air is driving these effects,” Vizuete said. “This device can be used to identify and understand what is driving the toxicity in the air.”

The NSF I-Corps grant provides funding and training to advance the process more quickly and efficiently while giving the technology legitimacy. Vizuete said he was “relieved and motivated” to continue the work upon receiving funding because commercializing a technology is a difficult and daunting task.

Vizuete, who joined the faculty of UNC’s public health school in 2005, teaches courses on environmental engineering and atmospheric chemistry. He also runs a research program on atmospheric chemistry, air pollution and air quality models.

“The environmental sciences and engineering department is properly renowned for research that extends from the laboratory to communities and even households,” said Julie MacMillan, MPH, managing director for the public health school’s Research and Innovation Solutions. “It’s both rigorous and practical, and Dr. Vizuete’s research is a great example.”

A Gillings Innovation Lab grant from Research and Innovation Solutions funded Vizuete’s research at the outset. He has also received a National Institutes of Health competing revision award for creating a virtual consortium for translational/transdisciplinary environmental research (ViCTER).

MacMillan stressed the importance of commercializing Vizuete’s technology so that more communities can know about and benefit from his discoveries.”The I-Corps program is an investment that nurtures excellent research and, in the end, benefits all of us,” MacMillan said.

Read more about Vizuete at



UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Linda Kastleman, communications editor, (919) 966-8317 or