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Epivara, a start-up venture at the University of Illinois Research Park, has been awarded a $250,000 National Science Foundation grant to continue research and development for its first product — a single-injection option to spay and neuter surgeries for animals.

The company was founded by Chemyong Jay Ko, a UI veterinary medicine professor with 20 years of research in the field of reproductive endocrinology.

Ko said he sees problems with surgical sterilization of animals — one of which is that veterinarians are trained to help sick animals, but they spend a lot of their time on sterilization procedures.

Ko also said that while some animals are anesthetized so they don’t feel the pain of the surgery, many aren’t.

The single shot Epivara is developing, called EpiFix, would also be a less expensive option and also help ease animal over-population, the company said.

From Epivara’s website: “How we treat animals matters. That’s why we created EpiFix, a new way to fix animals without painful, risky surgeries.”

“We are very honored to have received this prestigious award, and plan to use it to further our work on developing an injectable sterilizer that will create a new paradigm for how we spay and neuter animals,” said Chanjin Park, Epivara’s principal investigator and vice president of research and development.

Ko said the shot will be tested in female dogs and will eventually require approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

Coming to St. Joseph

The owners of 4th Quarter Nutrition, an energy drink and smoothies bar at 701 S. Gregory St., U, plan to open a new smoothies shop in St. Joseph.

The new location will be called The Blend Spot, and is currently under construction, said Anthony Pearson, co-owner along with his wife, Savara.

Pearson said he doesn’t have an opening date or a menu yet for the new location, but he is looking for The Blend Spot to open this summer.

According to a post on Instagram, The Blend Spot will serve healthy smoothies, energy drinks and protein coffee.

Catch a trolley ride

Champaign Center Partnership is hosting free open air trolley ride tours through Campustown.

The next two opportunities coming up will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 1 and 4 to 7 p.m. July 15.

Rides depart every 15-20 minutes, with walk-up riders picked up and dropped off at the north entrance of the University of Illinois Illini Union.

Each ride can hold up to 16 people, and since these are open air rides, mask-wearing isn’t required.

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