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Howard University and Johns Hopkins University to Host Inaugural Neuroscience ‘Seedling Summit’

Evaristus Nwulia

WASHINGTON – The NeuroTech Harbor (NTH), a partnership between Howard University and Johns Hopkins University, and the Center for Innovative NeuroTech Advancement at Massachusetts General Hospital have announced the inaugural “Seedling Summit” on Thursday, May 9. The Seedling Summit will showcase new technologies meant to improve the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases like stroke, Alzheimer’s, and substance abuse.

The technologies were developed through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Blueprint MedTech program. In 2022, the NIH awarded the NeuroTech Harbor up to $100 million in total grant funding to catalyze innovation in the field of neurological and brain-related conditions.

As part of the larger Blueprint MedTech program, Howard University is leading the “Seedling Initiative,” which serves as an incubator for early-stage ventures. After a rigorous review, tech entrepreneur teams were provided six months of mentorship where they received up to $50,000 in funds, regulatory advice, and other guidance. This support is intended to generate stronger proposals to the later stages of Blueprint MedTech, which will propel them to receive larger funding toward the commercialization of their medical technology products.

“The aim is to bring more African American and other underrepresented groups into the world of medical technology innovation,” said Evaristus Nwulia, M.D., MHS, principal investigator of the NIH Blueprint MedTech/Neurotech Harbor and director of the Seedling initiative. Nwulia is a neuroscience professor in the Howard University College of Medicine.

Nwulia said less than four percent of neuro-technology inventors are from minority or underrepresented backgrounds. He said the Seedling program does extensive outreach to minority-serving institutions to encourage them to apply for the additional resources that the program offers. 20% of Seedling award recipients in the first cohort of this program are from minority or underrepresented backgrounds.

The Seedling Summit on May 9 will spotlight 17 teams of entrepreneurs and innovators, who will be able to showcase their progress and activities in the six-month program. They will also have an opportunity to pitch the value of their technologies to experts in commercialization, who will select three winning teams to receive prizes.

“We are thrilled to embark on this collaborative journey with Howard University, leveraging our collective expertise and resources to drive meaningful change in neurological healthcare,” said Sridevi Sarma, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Institute for Computational Medicine, Johns Hopkins University. “The summit represents a pivotal moment in our efforts to advance research, foster innovation, and ultimately improve the lives of individuals affected by neurological conditions.”

For more information, contact Dr. Maria Hipolito, program manager for the Seedling program, at mhipolito@howard.edu.

Pictured above: Evaristus Nwulia, M.D., MHS, principal investigator of the NIH Blueprint MedTech/Neurotech Harbor and director of the Seedling initiative.


About Howard University 

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university comprising 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced three Schwarzman Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu

Media contact: Sholnn Freeman; sholnn.freeman@howard.edu