John Blaho



     John A. Blaho, Ph.D.

     Director, Industrial-Academic Research

     Office of the CUNY Vice Chancellor for Research

     555 West 57th Street, Room 1407

     New York, NY 10019  USA


     Phone: +1-646-664-3446

     Cell:  +1-646-581-3578

     Fax: +1-646-664-8769

     Skype:  john-cuny







Manhattan College

B.E., Chemical Engineering, cum laude

Physics Minor

NSF Chem. E. Undergraduate Research Participant, Clarkson College of Technology

Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society

Epsilon Sigma Pi Honor Society


Universitat Wien

Cert, International Relations

Strobl, Austria


University of Alabama School of Medicine

Ph.D., Biochemistry

Phi Lambda Upsilon National Chemistry Honor Society

Bertram Marx Cancer Research Award

Sigma Xi Research Award


University of Chicago

Research Fellowship, Molecular Virology

Marjorie B. Kovler Viral Oncology Laboratories

NIH Postdoctoral Research Fellow





Dr. Blaho is the PI on the NYC REDC Innovation Hot Spot.  On December 11, 2014, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo (below) announced the Cycle IV NYS Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) funding award winners in Albany.  The CUNY Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was named the Innovation Hot Spot for the New York City REDC.  This was a strategy laid out by Governor Cuomo in his 2014 State of the State Address to more effectively harness the state’s innovation assets and to better serve inventors and entrepreneurs. The NYSTAR Division of Empire State Development manages the Innovation Hot Spots program which was enacted as part of the 2013-14 NYS Budget. The goal of the program is to improve the quantity and quality of innovation and incubator services provided to young companies, thereby enabling these businesses to successfully transition from their start-up phase to larger scale commercialization of their products and services. Each of the 10 REDC regions of the state received one designation for a NYS Innovation Hot Spot. Along with CUNY, the following institutions also manage certified Innovation Hot Spots:  Albany University, Buffalo University, Clarkson University, Cornell University, High Tech Rochester, LI High Tech Incubator, Mohawk Valley CC, NY Medical College, and Syracuse Tech Garden.

CUNY iHUB:  The CUNY Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is located on W 125th Street in Upper Manhattan and is under the aegis of the Office of the CUNY Vice Chancellor for Research. The Hub will initially occupy 7,000 square feet at an external commercial site and is expected to house about 15 companies after 18 months, and 25-30 companies by the end of the third year.  At its core, the initial phase of the Hub will be a business incubator, offering its tenants professional mentorship as well as a host of collaborative and supportive services.  The Hub will embrace entrepreneurship in science and engineering as well as in non-science based companies. The Hub, CUNY Technology Commercialization Office, and other CUNY centers will offer entrepreneurs who aspire to start new businesses professional business services specifically designed for the local ecosystem. They will address how to set up a new business, develop a business concept, product or service, identify markets, and seek funding. Importantly, members of the Hub will be able to leverage the extensive facilities and equipment resources available at CUNY. The Hub will reach out to all CUNY campuses in the 5 boroughs to recruit trainees. CUNY Students will have the opportunity to join startups as tech assistants and/or interns.

PROGRAM: In coordination with NYC Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN), the Hub will incorporate the Lean LaunchPad process, best known as the program for the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps), as the entrepreneurship training curriculum for Hub members. NYCRIN's specific skill set includes its seasoned expertise in mentoring and training businesses in the customer discovery process. It emphasizes an experiential learning process combined with an inverted classroom approach which aligns the company’s value propositions with each of their customer segments. This process enables companies to scale their commercialization model into a sustainable and repeatable business. NYCRIN will create a specific program to assist start-up, small, and mid-sized companies to define, through an iterative and pragmatic process, their ideal market fit. They will also guide these companies through their partnerships and 

distribution channels to insure that they identify their most efficient supply chain.  Assistance on resources, cost structures, and revenue streams will be provided.



Dr. Blaho serves as the CUNY coPI and Executive Director of the NYC Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN).  In 2013, CUNY led an effort that brought together Columbia University and New York University with CUNY to apply to the National Science foundation to become a “Node” for their I-Corps program (PI Vice Chancellor Gillian Small).  We were awarded a three-year $3.74 million grant to create the New York City Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN), which is an extensive regional network that includes over 25 of the leading research universities in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania region.  Through the NYCRIN, we offer training and support to university innovators with the goal of building, operating, and sustaining a national innovation ecosystem that further enhances the development of technologies, products, and processes that benefit society.  NYCRIN provides NSF I-Corps training, which employs the Lean LaunchPad method, to national cohorts of faculty investigators who are interested in pursuing the development of spinoff companies based on their inventions.  It also offers numerous regional Lean LaunchPad programs ranging from the full I-Corps curriculum to shorter Boot Camps.  The very early adoption of the NSF Innovation Corps process by teams of CUNY inventors resulted in a significant change in the internal entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem at CUNY.  Our NYCRIN staff members identify potential faculty principal investigators through outreach and lab visits and also assist them in creating I-Corps teams.  Since 2012, over fifteen CUNY teams have been approved for NSF I-Corps funding.  The strength of our NYCRIN team lies in its expertise in mentoring and training fledgling businesses in the customer discovery process.  The I-Corps training emphasizes experiential learning combined with an inverted classroom approach that attempts to align a company’s value propositions with its presumed customer base. NYCRIN assists start-ups as well as small and mid-sized companies with the process of uncovering and defining—through an iterative and pragmatic process—their ideal market fit. We also guide companies through their partnerships and distribution channels to insure that they identify their most efficient supply chain. This process enables companies to scale their commercialization model into a sustainable and replicable business.  Since 2013, NYCRIN has trained over 100 university start-up teams from around New York State and the region; nearly all of these teams have gone on to form companies.



Dr. Blaho participated in organizing the CUNY component of this NYU-CUNY program and currently serves as CUNY PI.  In 2013 the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) awarded three $5 million grants to educational institutions in New York State to create clean energy proof-of-concept centers (POCC) dedicated to helping New York State inventors and scientists turn their high-tech, clean-energy ideas into successful businesses.  CUNY partners with New York University on one of these proof-of-concept centers, through which we will receive $2.4MM in funding over five years (2013-2018).  Another POCC is led by Columbia University and includes Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, and Cornell Tech.  These two proof-of-concept centers agreed to work together, and PowerBridgeNY is the fruit of this collaboration.  We believe this joint effort is better equipped to support all aspects of technical validation and company formation for early stage clean energy technologies.  PowerBridgeNY will be able to foster a more robust and coherent ecosystem around the clean energy sector in the entire downstate New York region.  The goal of PowerBridgeNY is to leverage clean energy innovations emerging from institutional research labs to create more and stronger energy businesses in New York State.  The proof-of-concept center helps New York City cleantech teams evaluate commercial potential, develop prototypes and de-risk technologies.  We provide education and information to cleantech teams in search of a greater understanding of the process and benefits of commercialization in the energy sector.  Our POCC also provides networking and community-building opportunities to support the exchange of ideas between the energy industry and the teams—both to ensure that the teams understand the market need for their innovations, and to ensure that industry leaders understand the potential solutions provided by emerging company technologies.  Finally, the PowerBridgeNY POCC provides mentorship and business start-up support, commercialization advisors—entrepreneurs who have successfully brought research innovations to market—help NYC cleantech teams navigate the steps involved in market research, prototyping, identifying investors, licensing their innovations, and building a business management team.



Since the fall of 2011, Dr. Blaho has personally organized over 6 I-Corps Teams that were approved for funding by the NSF.  He has served as Industrial Mentor for I-Corps Teams at Stanford in spring 2012, Michigan in summer 2012, and in the January 2013 cohort in Arlington, VA; all 3 teams formed NYS companies and received non-diluted investment seed funding.  In fall 2012, he led the NSF I-Corps submission, and serves as coPI and Training Director of the NYC Regional Innovation Node (NYCRIN) which was approved for funding in February 2013.



Dr. Blaho was instrumental in the creation of the NSF IUCRC for Metamaterials and the establishment of the NSF IUCRC for Sustainably Integrated Buildings and Sites at CUNY.  Since 2011, the City College of CUNY has been the lead institution of an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) for Metamaterials.  The Center for Metamaterials (CfM) focuses on increasing the metamaterials research infrastructure in the U.S., and to educate and train students in the science and application of metamaterials.  Metamaterials are composite structures that exhibit extraordinary optical or acoustical properties including negative index of refraction, light harvesting, trapping, circulation, anomalous transmission of light, and many other properties not possible with naturally occurring materials or conventional optical components. Industrial applications for these new materials includes building perfect lenses, light harvesting for renewable energy devices and building new high performance sensors.  The CfM performs industrially relevant metamaterials research and development leading to quick and cost-effective transition of metamaterials technology from US based university research laboratories to industry.  The program involves enhancement of metamaterials R&D and technology transfer infrastructure, student training (including minority students at many of the minority serving colleges within CUNY) in an emerging high technology field, training of CfM member companies' workforce through the CfMs Education and Outreach Program.  Additionally, long term economic impact is expected through high technology job creation and the formation of metamaterials spin-off companies, and increased revenue for US based high technology companies.  The current industrial members of the CfM IUCRC include Corning, Inc., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base – AFRL, Raytheon, U.S. Army CERDEC, Xerox, USConec, Cobham, Amy Research Office, MIT LL, Riverside Research, and CommScope.


Since 2012, the City College of CUNY has been a Site in the NSF IUCRC for Sustainably Integrated Buildings and Sites (SIBS).  SIBS brings together a disparate set of stakeholders (i.e. building owners and operators, component manufacturers, designers, utility providers, etc.) to develop a research agenda focused on the interaction between buildings and their environment.  This is an interaction that involves several resource flows (i.e. energy, water, materials, and air) 

and occurs at scales that affect individual buildings and the community at large.  The IUCRC includes CUNY City College and Carnegie Mellon University with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) as the lead institution.  SIBS is formal partnership with various industry partners and government/non-governmental agencies that have an interest in creating a more sustainable built environment.  The SIBS research and development themes are aimed at the industry need to respond to regulatory and public demands for minimizing virgin material use, water use, non-renewable energy use, and waste generation, and also at the societal need to protect the natural systems that support human life.  SIBS is multi-disciplinary in nature and independent of any one department, school or college.  SIBS leverages opportunities and funding from technology commercialization offices and business incubators in North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania.  The SIBS program includes the enhancement of R&D and technology transfer infrastructure for the buildings industry, student training (including minority students) in an area that is likely to grow over the next several decades, and workforce training through an annual education and outreach programs for member company employees.  The current SIBS industrial members include Johnson Controls, Ingersoll Rand, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, PGH Green Innovators, and the NYC Administrative Services.



Dr. Blaho served as the Technical Lead for the creation of the NYU-led Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).  CUNY is one of the Founding institutional partners of CUSP, which is a unique public-private research center that uses New York City as its laboratory and classroom to help cities around the world become more productive, livable, equitable, and resilient.  CUSP observes, analyzes, and models cities to optimize outcomes, prototype new solutions, formalize new tools and processes, and develop new expertise/experts.  These activities make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “Urban Systems”  Thus, CUSP is not only about research and education, but also about real demonstrations of new tools and new solutions.  CUSP’s focus on data, as opposed to more physical forms of engineering, is motivated by several considerations:

  • “Data” underpins the solutions to urban problems:  It is impossible to judge the efficacy of steps to improve a city without well-defined metrics and baselines.  Further, the needs and specifications for physical innovation must be informed by data.
  • “Data” is unifying across domains and disciplines:  Data is the common language through which CUSP can convene diverse expertise . It joins stovepipes, particularly connecting the social sciences to engineering and the physical sciences.
  • Informatics is among the most rapidly moving of technical areas:  Few other technologies show the exponential (Moore’s Law) progress that informatics continues to enjoy.
  • “Data” offers ample white space:  There are many candidates for pioneering basic research and applications of data to urban challenges.
  • The “informatics overlay” has the greatest potential short and mid-term impact:  While the physical infrastructure of a city can take decades to change materially, the overlay of the Sense-Model-Intervene paradigm on the operations of the existing infrastructure can produce efficiencies much more rapidly.
  • “Data” research is more cost-effective than physical research:  Data-only research is far less capital-intensive than physical activities, which require expensive specialized laboratories.  Better understanding of urban systems and needs will undoubtedly inform new lines of physical research (e.g., materials, structures), which can be pursued by CUSP’s partner institutions.


CUSP Industry partners

  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Xerox
  • Cisco
  • Consolidated Edison
  • Lutron
  • National Grid
  • Siemens
  • AECOM, Arup, IDEO
  • Lockheed Martin CUSP Agency Partners
  • Department of Buildings (DOB)
  • Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS)
  • Department of City Planning (DCP)
  • Department of Design and Construction (DDC)
  • Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
  • Department of Finance (DOF)
  • Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT)
  • Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Fire Department City of New York (FDNY)
  • Mayor’s Office for Operations
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
  • New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC)
  • New York City Police Department (NYPD)
  • Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability (OLTPS)
  • The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey



Dr. Blaho serves as the CUNY Director for Industrial-Academic Research within the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.  He has been responsible for creating/maintaining productive Sponsored Research Projects between Industrial entities and CUNY research faculty and is currently working to increase the amount of faculty entrepreneurial activities.  Dr. Blaho has worked very closely with the university’s traditional entrepreneurial center, the CUNY Center for Advanced Technology (CUNY CAT) serving as its Director for University-Industry Collaborations and continues to function as its Liaison to CUNY for Entrepreneurship.  Dr. Blaho facilitated the rebranding the CUNY CAT and significantly increased its industry sponsored research activities between 2010-2012.



John A. Blaho, Ph.D. has over 25 years' experience as a successful and well-funded professor at the University of Chicago and in the Department of Microbiology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  He is recognized internationally for his research on human viruses and was appointed to the Doctoral Faculty of the City University of New York in 1995.  Dr. Blaho was trained as a Chemical Engineer and performed NSF-supported research on biomass conversion.  His graduate research on nucleic acid biochemistry utilized large scale (500 liter) microbial fermentation of recombinant organisms, a process which served as the nadir of the blossoming biotechnology industry.  Dr. Blaho has graduated over 14 graduate students and mentored and placed over 12 postdoctoral fellows.  He serves on the editorial boards of the leading virology journals and has continuously served on federal and foundation grant peer review panels since 1996.  In the latest phase of his career, Dr. Blaho has been focusing on commercializing innovative basic science research.  Accordingly, he has just launched a new $4 million innovation center supported by the National Science Foundation and he currently serves on numerous NSF and NIH SBIR/STTR review panels.  Prior to joining the OVCR of CUNY, Dr. Blaho served a full time CSO function at a Biotech company in Princeton, NJ.  In this Executive Industrial position, he was also responsible for expanding the business through development of key partnerships and creating new investment opportunities.  During his tenure in the Biotech sector, Dr. Blaho held a Full Member (Professor) position at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, was a Visiting Scholar in Systems Biology at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and he remains an Adjunct Full Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.




"Lean LaunchPad and Business Model Generation"

"Translational Medicine Innovation - I-Corps at NIH"

"Systems Biology and Bioinformatics in Industrial Sponsored Research"

"Successful Industry Sponsored University Research"

"Industrial Herpesvirus Research: A Primer on University-Industry Collaborations"

"SBIR 101"

"Alternative Career Options for Ph.D.s"

"Viral Replication and Host Response to Infection"

BME I 6300, "Engineering Entrepreneurship"





Pellicane, C. and Blaho, J.A. (2014) Establishment of the NYC Regional Innovation Network <pdf>, NCIIA Open.

Pellicane, C. and Blaho, J.A. (2015) Lessons Learned From Adapting the NSF I-Corps Curriculum to Undergraduate Engineering Student Entrepreneurship Training <pdf>, NCIIA Open.

Blaho, J.A. (2016) Targeting autophagy in dendritic cells as a mechanism to limit immunopathogenesis in herpetic stromal keratitis. mBio 7(1):e02053-15. doi:10.1128/mBio.02053-15.

Mooney, C., Pellicane, C., Loew, P., and Blaho, J.A. (2016) Tools for Innovation & Entrepreneurial Success in the Community College. VentureWell Open 2016.