The Fulbright Best (Business Exchange and Student Training) is a program developed with the help of public and private sponsors including the Italian National Research Council. The objective of this program is to promote Italian entrepreneurship and innovation through scholarships along with partnerships with US companies and universities for training and internships.
The winners of the two Fulbright Best scholarships (worth 41,000 euro) sponsored by the CNR - National Research Council for the academic year 2014-2015, are two young women researchers: Maria Grazia Esposito (29) and Teresa Maria Carusone (24) from the Institute of Protein Biochemistry of Naples (which is part of the National Research Council -CNR).
The goal of Maria Grazia Esposito, is to create "CeliSens", a CNR spinoff that she wants to turn into a real start-up that will develop a portable device to provide data on gluten content in foods. This portable "box" can analyze in real time a sample to assess the presence of gluten in a specific food, without having to wait for lab results. This device could be used by consumers affected by celiac to find out right away whether they can eat a certain dish. The ease of use and speed of the analytical response of this instrument, will improve the quality of life of many people who are allergic or just sensitive to gluten and have a hard time eating right outside of the home.
Teresa Maria Carusone, a young member of Senior researcher Dr. Giuseppe Manco's team at the IBP-CNR in Naples, has proposed an interesting idea to be converted into a CNR's spinoff called "DETOXIZYMES". This project concerns the development of innovative enzymes with high stability for the safety of human health and the environment. The proposed technology is based on the same thermostable enzymes for three applications: 1) decontamination of pesticide residues from fresh foods (fruits and vegetables); 2) detoxification of stocks of obsolete pesticides; 3) development of a antibiofilm enzyme formulation against some pathogens.
Both young researchers will use their scholarship to come to California and do an entrepreneurship course at the University of Santa Clara followed by an internship in the U.S., while they will also be seeking funding from American investors to finance further development of their innovations.