Meharry receives Nunn-Perry Award for Department of Defense program

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The Department of Defense and Office of Small Business Programs recently awarded Meharry Medical College the Nunn-Perry Award for its work in the Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP).


Meharry is a member of one of four mentor-protégé teams selected to receive the Nunn-Perry Award. Meharry Medical College worked with the team in which Tec-Masters, Inc. served as mentor and the company GeneCapture served as protégé in the U.S. Army-sponsored Mentor-Protégé Program. Other team members included Oakwood University and the Women’s Business Center of The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship.


The MPP partners larger companies with smaller companies, which are often businesses run by women or members of underrepresented communities, to fill unique niches in the military supply chain. In the process, those companies develop technical capabilities that provide a winning relationship for the protégé, the mentor and the Department of Defense.


Meharry’s Office for Research and Innovation promoted an active collaboration with GeneCapture, Inc., a company working on an affordable portable system for the detection of infection at the point of care. Dr. Pius Nde, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Physiology, provided strategic directions about operational needs and scientific knowledge for remote diagnostic panels of parasites and other infectious disease pathogens to Gene-Capture.


“The Nunn-Perry Awards are presented to recognize mentor-protégé teams who have demonstrated exemplary effort in providing products and services to our warfighters. Your performance during FY22 has truly made an impact on the Departments Industrial Base and Technology Transfer,” Mentor-Protégé Program Director Kasey B. Diaz wrote.


“The prestigious Nunn-Perry award to our team is a recognition of excellence, acknowledging the unwavering commitment of Meharry Medical College to the underserved,” said Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, Meharry’s president and CEO.


“GeneCapture is developing a rapid, portable infection detection system for use in remote and austere environments, or in applications where a lab is not available,” said GeneCapture CEO Peggy Sammon. “We have a very innovative approach and we’re making good headway but we have not started our FDA testing yet. The DOD is interested because the warfighter is often far forward and away from medical support. The government is interested because of disaster relief, veteran health, civilian health, et cetera.”


Dr. Nde has worked with GeneCapture since 2020 as a scientific advisor to discuss approaches to detect pathogens of interest in underrepresented communities, migrant communities, and poor urban communities.


“We are honored to be recognized for participating in the opportunity to assist underrepresented poor communities and our countrymen on the field,” said Dr. Anil Shanker, senior vice president for research and innovation at Meharry Medical College.


Dr. Shanker will officially accept the award at the upcoming Mentor-Protégé Summit on March 30, 2023, in Orlando, Florida. This year’s summit will focus on “Strengthening Small Business Supply Chains.”


The Nunn-Perry Award is named for the contributions of Sen. Sam Nunn and former Secretary of Defense William Perry, who both played crucial roles in the implementation of the DOD Mentor-Protégé Program. For more information on the program, visit