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Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards three novel biomedical projects with $47,500 in Round 2 2019 Pilot Funding


PITTSBURGH (January 31, 2020) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $47,500 to three research groups through its 2019 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a system for preservation of explanted hearts used in transplantation surgery, a new vascular stent with anti-thrombogenic capability, and a rugged, infection resistant material for orthopedic implants.

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: “A Structurally and Mechanically Tunable Biocarpet for Peripheral Arterial Disease”

For the development of a material and method of deployment of specialized materials that coat the inner lumen of synthetic vascular grafts. The coating will greatly improve the viability and anti-thrombogenic properties of long stent grafts which overlap flexible joints.

Jonathan P. Vande Geest, PhD, Professor of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering

William R. Wagner, PhD, Professor of Surgery and Bioengineering, Surgery, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Dr. John J. Pacella, MD, Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine, UPMC 

AWARD 2: “Ex-Vivo Heart Perfusion System for Human Heart Support, Resuscitation, and Physiologic Testing”

For the development of a system for preservation of explanted donor hearts suitable for transplantation. Includes means to verify the heart’s mechanical and biological viability to improve recipient response.

Christopher Sciortino, MD, PhD; Dept of Cardiothoracic Surgery; UPMC

Harvey S. Borovetz, PhD; Dept of Bioengineering; Swanson School of Engineering

Rick Shaub, PhD; UPMC Artificial Heart Program; UPMC

Garrett Coyan, MD, Dept of Cardiothoracic Surgery; UPMC

AWARD 3: “In Vivo Efficacy of an Antibacterial and Biocompatible Polymeric Nanofilm on Titanium Implants”

For the development of biocompatible, anti-biofilm coatings for orthopedic use, especially in children.

Houssam Bouloussa, MD, MS,  Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Michael McClincy, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, UPMC

Prashant Kumta, PhD, Professor of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering


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 2012 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 70 early-stage projects have been supported by CMI with a total investment of over $1.4 million since inception. 

Author: Alan Hirschman, PhD, Executive Director, CMI