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Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards five novel biomedical projects with $60,000 in Round-2 2018 Pilot Funding

PITTSBURGH (January 29, 2019) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $60,000 to three research groups through its 2018 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a new drug-eluting contact lens for treatment of dry eye disease, a new method of measuring ocular changes in glaucoma, and a new instrument for management of ketogenic diets.

CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE), supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. Proposals are 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.

This is our eighth year of pilot funding, and our leadership team could not be more excited with the breadth and depth of this round’s awardees,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “This early-stage interdisciplinary research helps to develop highly specific biomedical technologies through a proven strategy of linking UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.”

AWARD 1:  “Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Coating for Delivery of IL-4 from Contact Lenses for Dry Eye Disease” 
For the development of a drug-eluting contact lens for treatment of chronic “dry eye” disease.
Bryan Brown, PhD, Assistant Professor, Depts. of Bioengineering, Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Vishal Jhanji, MD, FRCSG, FRCOphth, Professor of Ophthalmology, Cornea, External Eye Diseases and Refractive Surgery Services, UPMC Eye Center 
Mangesh Kulkarni, MD, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and department of Bioengineering

AWARD 2: “On the quantitative analysis of a new tonometer to manage/prevent glaucoma” 
For the development of a novel pulse wave device for measurement of ocular tissue characteristics in the detection and treatment of glaucoma.
Piervincenzo Rizzo, PhD, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Pittsburgh
Ian A. Sigal, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Eye & Ear Institute
Ian Conner, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh

AWARD 3: “Acetone Breathalyzer for Monitoring the Ketogenic State” 
For the development of a cost-effective, rapid acetone “breath-alayzer” for clinical and consumer usage in ketogenic diets.
Sung Kwon Cho, PhD, Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Swanson School of Engineering
David Rometo, MD, Div of Endocrinology and Metabolism, U of Pittsburgh Medical Center
David Finegold, MD,  Department of Human Genetics, Graduate School of Public Health
Alex Star, PhD,  Department of Chemistry, Dietrich School of Arts and Science


About the University of Pittsburgh Center for Medical Innovation
The Center for Medical Innovation is a collaboration among the Swanson School of Engineering, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Innovation Institute, 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. Over 60 early-stage projects have been supported by CMI with a total investment of over $1.2 million since inception. Nine companies have been formed to commercialize these early stage University of Pittsburgh technologies.


Author: Alan Hirschman, PhD Executive Director, CMI

Contact: Leah Russell