A solution to repair brain damage and heal wounds
Adam Contreras is a postdoctoral scholar at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures. He is working on the research and development of stem cell therapies that involve the use of electricity to control stem cell behaviors. He received a B.Sc. in biochemistry from Texas State University and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from UC Davis. Contreras has had a variety of research experiences, from studying fish behaviors, to fly circadian rhythms and, now, to human stem cell therapies. In his new position, he is seeking to develop new tools and applications for the fields of stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine.
In a nutshell, describe your project or venture.
I work on stem cell regeneration with Dr. Min Zhao at the Institute of Regenerative Cures, where we study tissue regeneration using electroceuticals, electric field stimulation as a therapeutic. I work within a team of scientists to improve our electroceutical protocols and prototypes. Our goal is to develop medical devices for electrocueticals to stimulate neural tissue regeneration in the human brain and heal wounds.
The academy taught me that an innovative network could remove the blinders I didn’t know I was wearing. … When you cast a wider net of inquiries, you can catch a broader glimpse of reality to prepare you for the next stages of your venture.
What’s important about your research or project—and where do you hope to take it?
My research aims to provide a solution to repair brain damage and heal wounds. Neural tissue damage does not readily repair itself, and even with years of therapy, cognitive and motor functions may not fully recover. My goal is to bring a medical electroceutical device to market that can help people regenerate neural tissues and improve recovery following a stroke.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
I am invigorated by the interdisciplinary elements of my project that bring ideas to life. I am passionate about crossing the language barriers between fields and watching our ideas grow into actions, our actions into better ideas, and the trails of progress we build together.
What was the most important thing you learned at the Entrepreneurship Academy?
The academy taught me that an innovative network could remove the blinders I didn’t know I was wearing. There are too many questions for a single person to ask. To truly prepare your ideas for the world, you need to talk to real people from different backgrounds. When you cast a wider net of inquiries, you can catch a broader glimpse of reality to prepare you for the next stages of your venture.
What is the most unexpected advice you received from a mentor?
Talk to your competitors to find out how they do it. Think about the infrastructure of your business. How much would you need to build to actually take your idea to the next level? It is good to consider your competitor as a possible future partner, or even a future buyer of your ideas.
Do you plan to participate in the Big Bang! Business Competition or “just” the workshops? How do you expect this to help you as an aspiring entrepreneur?
I am unable to participate due to schedule conflicts, but I would undoubtedly join a team if time permitted. I am eager to gain experience in developing a business, a pitch deck and opportunities to pitch to real investors. I was lucky enough to get a taste of these activities in the Entrepreneurship Academy.
How will your experiences as a Business Development Fellow help you to change the world?
The fellowship is providing opportunities to build an understanding of how to drive innovations to market. It is providing me with practical education and experiences that steady my course toward success. I am confident that I will take greater strides towards my goals with the network and advice I gain through my peers, mentors, and coursework throughout the fellowship.