272971 Translational Research Initiatives within a University Setting

Wednesday, October 31, 2012: 1:45 PM
Pennsylvania East (Westin )
Pratap Khanwilkar1, Marc Malandro2, Mark Redfern3, Stephen Badylak4, Alan Hirschman1 and Harvey Borovetz5, (1)Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, (2)Office of Technology Management, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, (3)Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, (4)Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, (5)Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Providing quality health care to patients that is accessible and affordable is a key goal for the activities of the nationally ranked Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Traditionally, this has been done through basic and applied R&D by multidisciplinary teams of clinicians, bioengineers and other scientists.

Since 2011, the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh has initiated two programs to help translate these innovative ideas and technologies developed by its R&D teams into clinical practice and commercialization.

In one program, the Center for Medical Innovation, a clinician with an idea for a health care improvement is paired up with an engineering faculty who can help realize the clinician’s vision. Seed funding is provided. This is the ‘bedside to bench’ phase.

In a complementary program, called the Coulter Translational Research Partners II (TPII), the focus is on projects that have progressed substantially on the R&D front and need that ‘last mile’ of support, both financially and in business and commercialization acumen to successfully convert the technology into a start-up company or a license to an existing and established company. The medical technology developed must be a result of a partnership between a clinician and a bioengineering faculty at the University of Pittsburgh.

These ‘Translational Research” programs require a global multi-disciplinary approach and teamwork both within the University of Pittsburgh’s various schools, colleges, institutes and centers and a constructive engagement of the external business community.

The Katz Business School, the Law School through its Innovation Practice Institute and its Health Care Law program, the  Schools of Health Sciences not only through the McGowan Institute but also through its Clinical Translational Science Institute, and the Offices of Technology Management and Enterprise Development are active and engaged partners in this effort. The Swanson School of Engineering is also developing a professional MS program to train student entrepreneurs interested in medical product innovation.

Essential partners outside of Pitt who have engaged to help achieve these program’s goals are local and Silicon-Valley based venture capitalists, angel investment groups, corporations large and small, entrepreneurs, and content experts in areas such as regulatory affairs, reimbursement, marketing, finance, and intellectual property management.

Early indications point to these programs filling an unmet need within academia: for seed-stage CMI support, 32 proposals were received from a range of clinical areas and are being vetted to select 5 for further funding of about ~$10,000-$25,000 apiece in the May-June 2012 timeframe. A second round of solicitations for this program will begin in July, 2012. For the later-stage Coulter TPII program, 33 proposals were received from various clinical areas including cardiology, nursing, ophthalmology, radiology, oncology, and dentistry. Presently, 9 proposals are undergoing extensive commercialization due diligence which includes the development of a 15-minute business presentation and of a 5-page Executive Summary of the Business Plan for that particular technology. Of these 9, it is anticipated that 5 projects may be funded at about $100,000 per project for 1 year starting July 2012.

The Coulter Program is funded by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and the University of Pittsburgh for 5 years. This program has demonstrated its success at other prestigious Biomedical Engineering departments and Universities throughout the US and its results have been lauded by industry, investors and the federal government. In Phase I of this Program, about 7.5 times follow-on business funding has been received by projects funded by Coulter.

It is anticipated that innovative multidisciplinary programs such as these with measurable translational outcomes will lead to improved, high quality and cost-effective patient care, an imperative in this day and age, as well as contribute to regional economic development.

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