UCSF announces the creation of the Kunal Patel UCSF Innovation Fund in support of our Catalyst Program for advancing UCSF discoveries with clinical impact and commercial potential

Kunal Patel
Kunal was a star athlete, passionate about soccer, completed the Escape from Alcatraz and New York Triathlons, and was a 4.5-rated USA National tennis champion. He loved classical music and was an extraordinary traveler, backpacking through countries all over the world and always looking for off-the-beaten-path experiences with great enthusiasm. He is missed.
Kunal Patel
Kunal was a true child of Silicon Valley. With a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, he was a researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center before launching his own startup, Arevo Labs. Kunal was kind, compassionate, affectionate, gentle, and always brimming with a zest for life. He taught us all how to live life to the fullest.
Mukesh Patel
Mukesh is a serial entrepreneur and an active startup investor. He has 35 plus years of experience in the semiconductor and hardware industries and has held a position as Chairman, CEO, and other executive roles. Mukesh is a co-founder of Smart Modular Technologies and also an investor, board member, and mentor to a number startups in Silicon Valley.

To support the challenging work of translating breakthrough academic discoveries into treatments that can be delivered to patients, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Mukesh Patel has generously donated $2.2 million to support the Catalyst Program through UC San Francisco's Innovation Ventures.

UCSF is grateful to the Patel family and their generosity.

In Kunal Patel’s Memory

Mukesh and Harsha Patel are Bay Area residents who raised an active family in California while co-founding Smart Modular Technologies. In addition, Mukesh is an investor, board member, and mentor to Silicon Valley startup companies and entrepreneurs. He also understands the importance of meticulous research in healthcare and chose to support the University’s diligent pursuit of science. The Fund was created in memory of their son, Kunal.

“Through effective scientific medical research, innovation, and its application, we along with our daughter Dr. Monique Patel, hope our contribution helps tackle the challenging issues of health in society,” said Patel. “Our gift to UCSF's Catalyst Program is in service of the shared values of humanity and, above all, the love for family. The Bay Area is our extended family. It has provided us with incredible opportunity and, more importantly, a place to raise a family and foster relationships. Our son Kunal shared his extraordinary spirit with heart, which continues to illuminate the way forward for us.”

Innovation Ventures

UCSF is a leader in translating research ideas into products which change lives. Innovation Ventures is dedicated to helping UCSF researchers translate their innovation out of the lab into the marketplace as more fully developed technologies, with a greater confidence of success. Whether evaluating a new discovery, securing funding, seeking external partnerships, or starting new companies, Innovation Ventures is here to facilitate protection, development, and commercialization of novel and valuable UCSF inventions for societal and commercial benefit. The Catalyst Program, UCSF’s translational accelerator focused on advancing early UCSF discoveries with clinical impact and commercial potential, comprises a key program within Innovation Ventures.

“We are grateful to the Patel family for recognizing the importance of supporting early translational discovery efforts here at UCSF,” said Barry Selick, PhD, Vice Chancellor and leader of Innovation Ventures. “This gift, which is actually the second significant one that the Patel family has made to support Innovation Ventures, will have impact not only for the recipients but ultimately for those patients who will reap the benefits of their efforts. We look forward to working closely with Mukesh and his physician daughter, Monique, as key advisors to Catalyst.”

Catalyst Program

The centerpiece of the Catalyst Program is the Catalyst Awards, our program that provides both industry advisor mentorship and project funding to UCSF Principal Investigators with promising translational-stage projects. The Catalyst Awards are focused on the development of therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, digital health, and biotools. Since program inception in 2010, the Catalyst Program has helped bridge the translational gap in 249 projects by providing UCSF faculty with project funding totaling over $8.9 M, resulting in follow-on funding totaling over $297 M. Furthermore, 35 patents have been issued from Catalyst Program projects and 23 start-up companies involving Catalyst Program projects have launched. Recent examples of Catalyst funded projects that are advancing include:

  • Viewpoint Therapeutics spun out of Prof. Jason Getwicki’s lab, that is advancing the development of a topical application for the treatment of cataracts as an alternative to surgery.
  • The initiation of Phase II clinical trials by Epigenyx for the treatment of Dravet syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of childhood epilepsy.  The intellectual property around the molecules being evaluated was licensed from UCSF based on the findings from Prof. Scott Baraban’s laboratory.
  • The initiation of a Phase I clinical trial evaluating CFTR activation for the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis. The compounds were licensed from UCSF based on the discoveries in Prof. Alan Verkman’s laboratory.

In addition to the above, the Catalyst Program aims to foster academic and industry collaborations as well as enhance education in early translational research and entrepreneurship.