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Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation announces 2013 Round-2 Pilot Funding Awards for new biomedical technology


PITTSBURGH (February 10, 2014) … The University of Pittsburgh's Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded a total of $82,000 to six research groups through its 2013 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest research to receive funding includes projects ranging from a "smart" topical wound gel and CPR system to an infectious disease detection device and a prototype instrument for minimally-invasive brain surgery. 

CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, funds applied technology projects that are in the early stages of development, with the goal of ultimately transitioning the work to clinical adoption. Proposals were evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential health care impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and potential in obtaining further financial investment to translate the particular solution to healthcare. Funding ranges from $10,000-$25,000 each. 

"CMI serves as a critical "kickstart" for biomedical devices that are ready to move to the next level of R&D, and so we're excited for the potential of these six projects," said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD , CMI Executive Director. "The CMI leadership team was impressed by the quality of these proposals, which represent some of the most intriguing early-stage interdisciplinary research at Pitt and UPMC. "


FOR: CUROSTEM: Cellular Bio-bandage 
Award to develop Curostem™, a 'smart' topical wound gel, which incorporates biological and pharmacological materials into a bioengineered polymer gel topically applied to non-healing wounds in all clinical care settings.

Research Team:
Donald P. Taylor, PhD, M.B.A.
Department of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE) 

Austin Nuschke (Student co-PI) 
Department of Pathology, UPMC 

Alan Wells, MD, D.M.Sc.
Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Pathology, UPMC 
Professor, Department of Bioengineering, SSOE 

Eric Beckman, PhD
George M. Bevier Professor 
Department of Chemical Engineering, SSOE 

FOR: Point-of-Care Molecular Diagnostic Instrument with Data-Tracking Capability for time-critical Infectious Disease Detection 
Award to develop a rapid point-of-care instrument using isothermal DNA amplification to detect antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Research Team: 
Abhay N. Vats, MD
  Kathrin Gassei, PhD 
Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh 

Alex K. Jones, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
Director, Computer Engineering Program 

William Stanchina, PhD
Chairman and Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, SSOE 

FOR: Fiber-optic light cord safety sheath 
Award to develop a device for use with laparoscopic surgical instruments to eliminate the risk of burns for over 2 million patients annually.

Research Team:
Benjamin T. Ristau, MD 
Urology Resident, Department of Urology, UPMC 

William W. Clark, PhD
Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, SSOE 

Steven G. Docimo, MD
Chief Medical Officer, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh 

FOR: Dilatable ports for deep brain access 
Award to design, build and test a prototype device for minimally invasive brain surgery, that can mitigate most of the tissue trauma generated by surgical devices.

Research Team:
Johnathan A. Engh, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, UPMC 

Anne M. Robertson, PhD
Professor of Mechanical Engineering, SSOE 

FOR: Automatic Chest Compression Device Adaptable to Physiologic Feedback. 
Award to continue development of a "smart" CPR system. Grant will fund experimental work and preclinical studies.

Research Team:
Clifton Callaway, MD
Department of Emergency Medicine, UPMC 

James Menegazzi, PhD
Department of Emergency Medicine, UPMC 

William Clark, PhD
Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, SSOE 

Matthew Sundermann
Graduate Student, Bioengineering, SSOE 

FOR: Degradable reverse thermal gel as a controlled release platform for intraocular therapeutic delivery. 
Award to continue development of an advanced gel for treatment of macular degeneration and other diseases of the eye.

Research Team:
Yadong Wang, PhD
Professor, Department Bioengineering, SSOE 

Thomas Friberg, MD
Department of Ophthalmology, UPMC


About the Center for Medical Innovation

The Center for Medical Innovation at the Swanson School of Engineering is a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Office of Technology Management (OTM), and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). CMI was established in 2011 to promote the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; to educate the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and to facilitate the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services in cooperation with OTM and in partnership with CTRP.



Contact: Paul Kovach