University of Missouri School of Medicine MU Health School of Medicine

Sept. 24, 2015

Nicholas Golda, MD, and Randy Curry, PhD
Salman Ahmad, MD, and Prasad Calyam, PhD
Raghuraman Kannan, PhD, and Dean Hainsworth, MD
Mahmoud Almasri, PhD, and Shuping Zhang, PhD, DACVM
Ramak Amjad, MD; John Pardalos, MD; and Roger Fales, PhD

MU Awards Five Grants to Accelerate Biomedical Discoveries from Lab to Market

Coulter program pairs physicians, engineers to develop new health technologies

The University of Missouri's Coulter Translational Partnership Program today awarded five grants totaling approximately $500,000 to help accelerate biomedical research discoveries from laboratory research projects to health care innovations that can improve patient care.

The five interdisciplinary research teams that received the grants include faculty members from the MU College of Engineering, the MU School of Medicine and the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. The grants will fund research projects including a hands-free device made with Google Glass for first responders in mass casualty disasters to communicate in areas that have compromised phone and Internet service and timely salmonella testing that could help prevent food-borne outbreaks and the exorbitant costs of medical bills and product recalls.

At MU, we are known for working across disciplines to solve complex problems and make important discoveries," said MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. "Our partnership between the University of Missouri and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation is based on our common goal of transforming research discoveries into health care innovations that improve patients' lives."

MU's Coulter program provides annual awards to researchers whose projects demonstrate great scientific potential and meet a well defined health care need. The projects are reviewed by a committee that includes entrepreneurs, accomplished researchers and venture capital investors.

"Research innovations are vital to the field of medicine," said Jerry Parker, PhD, associate dean for research at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and co-principal investigator for the MU Coulter Translational Partnership Program. "By combining the expertise of engineering and medical faculty, we can prepare discoveries for the next steps in the innovation process, in which industry can invest in them to create new methods and technologies to save and improve the lives of patients."

Funding for the research projects is provided by a $5 million partnership between MU and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. MU is one of only 16 academic institutions in the country and the only university in Missouri offering a Coulter Translational Partnership Program. The 2015 Coulter program awards of approximately $100,000 each were given to five teams with a total of 11 researchers. The awards will fund the following projects:

Intelligent oxygen control for NICU patients

Roger Fales, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; John Pardalos, MD, associate professor in the Department of Child Health; and Ramak Amjad, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Child Health, are collaborating to create a device that automatically varies oxygen levels to premature infants. The device uses feedback from multiple sensor measurements, such as blood-oxygen saturation and heart and respiratory rates, to increase the amount of time babies spend in the desired range of oxygen saturation.

Safer laser handpiece for dermatology treatments

Randy Curry, PhD, Logan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Nicholas Golda, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology, are developing a laser device that will make dermatology procedures safer, more effective and easier for practitioners to use by reducing the risk of serious, irreparable eye injuries that can result from accidental exposure to even a reflection of the laser beam.

Panacea’s Cloud: Augmented reality system for mass casualty disaster triage and coordination

Prasad Calyam, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, and Salman Ahmad, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, have developed Panacea’s Cloud, a hands-free portable system that will enable audiovisual communications for medical directors during disaster situations where Internet and phone access could be limited. Panacea’s Cloud will allow incident commanders to evaluate the scene quickly and strategically delegate triage responsibilities more efficiently, potentially saving lives.

GermSensor system for rapid detection of salmonella and other pathogens

Mahmoud Almasri, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Shuping Zhang, MD, professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, have designed a sensor that can detect salmonella in food in a more timely and efficient manner, ensuring the safety of consumers and helping to prevent food-borne outbreaks and the exorbitant costs of medical bills and product recalls.

DR Sensor for early detection of diabetic retinopathy

Raghuraman Kannan, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering, and Dean Hainsworth, MD, professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, have developed a disposable sensor that detects diabetic retinopathy, a major eye complication that arises in patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. This sensor can be administered by any primary care provider and is much less expensive than current diabetic retinopathy tests, which only can be administered by ophthalmologists and optometrists at patients annual eye exams.

Read more about Dr. Kannan and his Coulter research.

“Thanks to the Coulter Foundation, the scientists we are recognizing have more advanced technology and greater financial resources to further their discoveries,” said Jinglu Tan, PhD, principal investigator of the MU Coulter Translational Partnership Program and James C. Dowell Professor and Chair of the Department of Bioengineering. “I am convinced that Mr. Coulter would be impressed today to see the biomedical innovations being developed at MU with the support of his foundation.”

In addition to providing funding, the Coulter program supports scientists by connecting them with research and development experts from private industry and academia. Coulter scientists receive real-world advice on intellectual property protection, regulatory issues and market opportunities. They also engage with potential partners for financing and product development.

Since it began in 2011, the Coulter program has created 10 startups and helped MU research projects generate more than $10 million in new government grants. In addition, one Coulter-funded project at MU that created a cost effective and non-invasive clinical screening test for monitoring lung cancer therapy has been licensed to a company with the resources to continue commercialization of the technology.

“The awards we announced today are designed to bridge the funding gap for promising research projects that have excellent market potential but require more investment to advance through the research and commercialization process,” said Cynthia Helphingstine, director of MU’s Coulter program. “The Coulter Translational Partnership Program is truly a testament to the depth and breadth of research being performed at the University of Missouri.”

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