From the workbench to the bedside


PITTSBURGH (July 21, 2017) …The University of Pittsburgh Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program awarded grants totaling $650,000 to six translational research teams through its most recent funding cycle. The new funded projects include a biomarker for identifying intracranial hemorrhage, a biosensor platform for detecting cardiac events, a drug delivery platform for preventing sexually transmitted infections, a device to improve viability of donor livers for transplantation, a novel peripheral IV placement catheter, and a significantly improved surgical retractor.

"The six winning teams met our rigorous business oriented criteria and were among the best we have seen. They were also among the most diverse, as a result of a broader field of applicants," said Max Fedor, Coulter Program Director. "In addition to direct funding for translational research, teams receive significant coaching from our experienced staff and from external business and clinical experts, who have partnered with us. We are extremely pleased with the success of this year's program and look forward to expanding further funding collaborations across the University community in the upcoming competitive grant cycle this fall."

The Coulter Program, housed within Pitt's Department of Bioengineering, is a partnership between the Swanson School of Engineering, the Schools of the Health Sciences and the Innovation Institute. The Program aims to identify, select, and develop promising late-stage biomedical projects that address significant unmet clinical needs and have the potential for positive clinical and economic impacts.

The 2017 Coulter funding cycle was unique from previous years, in that applications were accepted in collaboration with the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data and SciVelo, the Department of Dermatology, the Department of Plastic Surgery, the Magee-Womens Research Institute, the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and the Vascular Medicine Institute. Each partner agreed to provide financial support jointly with Coulter for winning projects within their category.

Details on the six funded technologies and their scientific and clinical teams include:

Biomarkers for Infant Brain Injury Score (BIBIS): A serum biomarker panel for improving identification of intracranial hemorrhage in infants and young children.

  • Rachel Berger, MD, MPH, Professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Brian Pak, PhD, Director of Assay Development and Paul Smith, President and CEO of Axela, Inc.

CardioSense: A universal biosensor platform for detection and monitoring of congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction.

  • Prashant Kumta, PhD, Professor, Swanson School of Engineering and School of Dental Medicine
  • Robert Kormos, MD, Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Bioengineering
  • Mitali Patil, MS, and PhD Candidate, Department of Bioengineering
  • Prashanth Jampani Hanumantha, PhD, Department of Bioengineering

HerShield: A quick dissolving vaginal film for on-demand drug delivery platform for protection against sexually transmitted infections.

  • Lisa C. Rohan, PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Katherine Bunge, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
  • Sravan Kumar Patel, PhD, Post-Doctoral Associate, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

OrganEvac: A whole-organ sonothrombolysis device to increase the number of livers available for transplantation from donors after cardiac death

  • Christopher Hughes, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery and Surgical Director, Liver Transplantation
  • Paulo Fontes, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director, Machine Perfusion Program, Starzl Transplantation Institute

    ThreadRite IV: A novel resistance-sensing catheter with guidewire to expedite peripheral IV placement on the first attempt.

    • William (Buddy) Clark, PhD, Professor Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
    • Cameron Dezfulian, MD, Assistant Professor Adult & Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
    • Ehsan Quaim, Graduate Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
    • Dennis Wist, CEO
    • Nicholas Krehel, Research Assistant, Critical Care Medicine

    Steeltown Retractor: A flexible arm surgical tool holder that gives surgeons unprecedented fast, precise tool positioning capabilities while minimizing operating room (OR) costs for the hospital

    • Jeffrey Vipperman, PhD, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Scienc
    • Pete Allen, MD, UPMC Mercy Dept. of General Surgery
    • Garth Elias, MD, UPMC Mercy Dept. of General Surgery
    • Joe Marcanio, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Innovation Institute
    • Christopher Dumm, PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science


    About the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program

    The Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program is a University based accelerator, designed to help faculty researchers translate their innovations to commercialization. By way of a competitive grant program, training processes, and collaborative services, our goal is to de-risk University technology and identify viable commercial pathways through the complex healthcare industry landscape. Further, we engage extensively with business partners, mentors and clinical experts to bring industry perspectives to translational research. In 6 years, the Coulter Program has attracted almost 200 applications, funded 31 projects leading to eight license agreements, four optioned technologies and eight start-up companies.

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