Project Primed to Build a Better Tomato Plant

Project Primed to Build a Better Tomato Plant

Can modern science and experimentation lead to stronger, healthier, disease-resistant tomato plants? TechAccel, a Kansas City, MO-based technology and venture development organization thinks so and has announced its selection of a grant recipient under the Venture Catalyst Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIR) program at the University of California, Davis. Congratulations are in order for Anne Britt, a professor in the UC Davis Plant Biology Department, who will receive $50,000 to perform a proof-of-concept of her technology – a novel method of rapid and efficient gene editing in a tomato plant.

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“Anne’s approach to delivering a CRISPR/Cas9 or other gene editing tool is potentially game changing in its simplicity,” stated Brad Fabbri, TechAccel’s Chief Science Officer. “For certain crops, the technology avoids the tissue culture and cell biology steps that are typically required to effect gene engineering in plants.”

The Venture Catalyst Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIR) grant program is in its fifth year. The STAIR Grant selection committee reviewed 29 applications from UC Davis researchers for this year’s award.

TechAccel began its collaboration with UC Davis in 2016 with its participation in the Venture Catalyst STAIR-Plus program, which supports STAIR grant recipients who successfully achieve their commercialization milestones. In addition to the TechAccel-funded grant, the program was awarded five additional grants.

Members of the TechAccel team will serve as mentors to the grant-winning researcher and may also consider the project for future TechAccel investment, in alignment with the TechAccel business model.

On a related note, TechAccel recently announced an investment in a science advancement project at the Siegel Lab in the Genome Center at UC Davis. This project, led by Justin B. Siegel, Faculty Director of the Innovation Institute for Food and Health, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine at UC Davis, is directed toward identifying mutations in a wheat enzyme that can produce plants capable of thriving in warmer temperatures.

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