Catalyst Newsletter, August 2014
MCIRCC Buckles Down on Sepsis
This year, MCIRCC has had its eye on one of the most multifaceted diseases in critical care--one that still flies under the public radar but which continues to pose enormous challenges to patients, families, and medical communities across the globe: sepsis.

It all started with our first annual Grand Challenge Symposium back in January. With the spotlight on sepsis, the two-day event concluded with the release of our Grand Challenge RFP to support milestone-driven research guided by co-principal investigators from the U-M Medical School and College of Engineering. Fourteen proposals were submitted, and in July, after to two rigorous evaluation rounds, MCIRCC announced that it would fund six projects based on the depth and breadth of their science and apparent commercialization potential.

We arrived at these six projects by considering market need, clinical relevance, real-world applications and challenges, interest and potential funding from external partners, alongside a clear commercialization pathway. Ultimately, this approach really sums up the very purpose of MCIRCC's existence--to accelerate the best ideas in critical care research for rapid translation from laboratory bench to patient bedside, with the singular goal of transforming the face of critical care.

To top it all off, as a result of a recent report issued by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT), as well as a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), media attention on sepsis is rising. While the information presented may be alarming to many citizens, this coverage could quite literally mean the difference between life and death and driving positive change.

And so, as we head into September, Sepsis Awareness Month, it seems fitting to highlight all that MCIRCC, its members, and alliance partners are doing to stymie the prevalence of this deadly and pervasive disease. Hopefully, with our Grand Challenge projects gearing up and September focusing on what our diverse teams can do to treat this disease, we will continue to develop big, bold solutions that make a difference in people's lives.

Warm Regards,

Kevin R. Ward, MD
Executive Director, MCIRCC

CONNECT [ events > meetings > networking ]
Researchpalooza is August 27:
Visit MCIRCC for a Round of Critical Care Jeopardy!
Researchpalooza is hosted every year by the Medical School Office of Research, in conjunction with the UMHS Ice Cream Social. This year MCIRCC, along with 68 different campus labs and offices, will exhibit at the event.

Wednesday, August 27
11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Circle Drive area in front of Medical Science Unit I

Stop by and visit your MCIRCC Catalyst Team at booth #2 and test your critical care knowledge, Jeopardy style! 

Researchpalooza features ice cream, popcorn, games, and lots of giveaways. Plus, the Office of Research is sponsoring grand prizes such as an iPad, gift cards, and money toward travel and professional development.

For more details about the event and the current list of exhibitors, check out the Researchpalooza website.
[ team science tools ]
MCIRCC Launches Proposal Development Unit:PDU
Offers focused SWAT Team approach to "big" proposals for "big" money
With the arrival of the nationally recognized grant and proposal specialist Jaine Place, MCIRCC is pleased to announce the launch of its long-awaited Proposal Development Unit, also called the PDU.

One of MCIRCC's core member resources, the PDU is a strategic asset designed to create new funding streams to support member research and center sustainability. 

Today's team science grants are increasingly complex, time consuming and labor intensive, to a point that many find the process overwhelming and incredibly challenging to navigate. The goal of the PDU is to provide members a competitive advantage by allowing you to focus on what you do best--innovative science--instead of the intensive strategic planning, project management, and administrative functions that go into finding and developing a successful grant submission. And we all know a successful grant proposal is one that is well prepared, thoughtfully planned, and concisely packaged.

To accomplish this, the PDU will provide the following key services:
  • Strategic planning and schedule coordination
  • Intensive project management for large-scale, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional opportunities
  • Proposal production activities
  • Coordination of budgets, subcontracts, and cost-sharing
  • Administrative and logistics support (workshops, biosketches, forms, data)
  • Agency site visit planning and coordination
  • Team science coaching and training to elevate competitiveness
  • Customized funding opportunity searches
Place says her mission for the PDU is to "support and build upon MCIRCC's research priorities and faculty strengths; to provide the coaching and support needed for strategic and competitive proposal development; to assure awareness of, and readiness for, upcoming funding opportunities via improved communication with funding agencies and foundations; and most importantly, the PDU will allow you to concentrate on your work--the reason we're all here."

You will find Place is enthusiastic about what the PDU can do for MCIRCC members. She stresses that, "The overall goal is to enhance MCIRCC's team science philosophy and multidisciplinary collaborations to transform critical care medicine. We want members to devote as much time as possible to their science and innovation. In short, we want to help them change the world."

The PDU is currently in the soft-launch phase with plans to formally launch in November. So stay tuned for more information, and start thinking about your proposal needs. Grant developments in critical care are on the horizon and the PDU is preparing to help bring them to light!

INTEGRATE [tech > clinical products > people]
UROP Research Assistants:
Ready to Work with YOU! 
Could you use help with your ongoing research, pilot project, or grant proposal? Would you like to introduce enthusiastic students to your field and help mold their academic and career paths?

The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) has admitted 1,500 students, and its largest cohort is interested in assisting you with your biomedical, public health, engineering, and interdisciplinary research projects.

UROP research assistants can help with your clinical, laboratory, and survey research, plus literature reviews, data analysis and more.

Sample UROP Research Projects include:
  • Effect of New Media on Health Behavior
  • Novel Interactors of the RAS Oncogene
  • Pain and Prescription Drugs: Overdose Prevention Projects
  • Parents' Knowledge & Perception of Benefits & Risks of Neonatal Circumcision
Benefits of working with UROP students:
  • You interview and select students
  • Students participate for course credit and work with you 6-12 hours a week
  • Students who have work-study are paid by UROP
  • UROP Peer Advisors and Senior Staff offer support and guidance  
  • Skill-building workshops designed for UROP students include: Endnote, Keeping a Laboratory Notebook, Discipline-Specific Literature Resources, Lab Math, SPSS 
Eligible UROP sponsors include:
  • Junior and senior faculty
  • Post-doctoral fellows
  • Research investigators
  • Other senior researchers
"After interviewing students from both the freshman and sophomore class, it was apparent that the U-M students who have decided to participate in UROP have committed to finding a balance of academics, social and life's circumstances, regardless of their class level," said a recent UROP Mentor and Clinician Researcher. "In my first year as a UROP mentor, the best suited individual for my project was a freshman, and I could not have been more pleased with the experience." 

Apply to become a UROP sponsor: 
  • PRIORITY DEADLINE for project applications EXTENDED to Friday, August 22 
  • Project applications will be accepted through September; those submitted after the priority deadline will have a smaller applicant pool
  • Complete the online application
Learn more about the UROP program by watching this YouTube video.

Questions? Contact Katy Downs, UROP Assistant Director, at (734) 615-9000 or

IMPACT [ announcements > funding > pubs ]
U-M MTRAC Accepting Proposals until Monday, September 8:
Second Year for Fast Forward Early-Stage Funding Program
The U-M Medical School has issued a Request for Proposals for the U-M Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program (U-M MTRAC).

Sponsored by the Medical School in partnership with the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of Technology Transfer, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, MTRAC supports funding for proof-of-concept and other early-stage development studies, regulatory guidance, and consultation and mentoring from industry and investment experts outside the University.

This year MTRAC will be using UMMS Competition Space to manage the proposal submission process, and each proposal must have a Medical School Principal Investigator with efforted appointment at the Medical School. Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, potential health care impact and significance, the potential for commercialization, and likelihood of obtaining further support. Last year, 11 different proposals were awarded in the four targeted markets: devices, diagnostics, therapeutics, and healthcare IT.

Instructions for proposal submission can be found at the U-M MTRAC website.

Proposals must contain a comprehensive research plan with deliverable milestones, and are due Monday, September 8. 

Questions? Contact Bradley Martin, Commercialization Program Director at (734) 936-8577 or

U-M MTRAC Kickstart Awards:
Funding available for preliminary development with potential to lead to new products
The Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI) team, a part of the U-M Medical School Office of Research devoted to providing research faculty at the Medical School with the connections and resources needed to successfully commercialize technology, announced the launch of its new U-M Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences (MTRAC) Kickstart Award program.

Offering funding up to $25,000, Kickstart Awards provide support for preliminary studies or development activities such as animal testing, prototype development, beta development, or drug-candidate screening. The FFMI team is specifically seeking proposals that address a discrete milestone that is critical to the advancement of research to the point of product development. Funds will enable activities that can help a project along a developmental path from lab to clinic, potentially making it more eligible for commercialization.

All interested faculty must complete a pre-submission application before submitting a full proposal. Following completion of a pre-submission application, research teams will work directly with FFMI staff to determine an appropriate research plan and key milestone before submitting a complete proposal for review. Mentorship will be provided during the award period to guide further commercialization efforts.

Kickstart will be an ongoing program, with proposals being reviewed on a rolling basis until available funding has been distributed. Additional details about this program, including pre-submission forms, are available on the MTRAC website.

If you have any questions regarding the MTRAC Kickstart Award or other resources within FFMI, please contact Nick DeHaan at

It Takes a Team:JPlace
MCIRCC Hires 2 Industry Experts to Enhance Member Services
MCIRCC is thrilled to announce that Jaine Place has joined the Catalyst Team as manager of its new Proposal Development Unit, a core service for members.

With over 25 years of experience in strategic proposal development with awards totaling over $300 million, Jaine will provide proposal development consulting, planning, and production assistance, alongside customized funding opportunity searches. In addition, she will serve as the funding agency liaison on behalf of MCIRCC and its membership and provide team science coaching to enhance MCIRCC faculty competitiveness for large-scale research funding.

Prior to joining MCIRCC, Jaine was a member of the senior research development team at North Carolina State University (NC State) and a founding director of its campus-wide Proposal Development Unit. She specializes in developing proposals for large-scale, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research centers, with seven wins in the past four years. In 2009, she received the Award for Excellence in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies at NC State.

You can learn more about MCIRCC's Proposal Development Unit in this newsletter or contact Jaine at (734) 936-2754 or
MCIRCC has also appointed Ken Spenser as its commercialization coach. Similar to his previous role as a Mentor-in-Residence with the U-M Office of Technology Transfer, Ken helps individual MCIRCC faculty members and multidisciplinary teams develop commercialization roadmaps to accelerate the bench to bedside process and position their innovations for licensing or potential business startups. He is also working with the six Grand Challenge Sepsis projects that recently received MCIRCC funding.

Alongside his MCIRCC duties, Ken is a director at Interphase Corporation (NASDAQ: INPH), a supplier to the global telecommunications market, where he is chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee and a member of both the Audit Committee and Compensation Committee. He is also president of Better Rehab, LLC, a supplier of content to the health services industry. Previously, Ken was founding president/CEO of two venture-backed software development companies, MicroEngineering Solutions, Inc. and Entivity, Inc., both of which he successfully sold off. Prior to this, he was vice president at Texas Instruments, leading their worldwide Industrial Automation Division.

We're excited to have Ken join Team MCIRCC! You can reach Ken at (734) 604-1966 or

MCIRCC Announces 2014 Grand Challenge Funding Awards:GrandChallenge
Accelerates 6 innovative sepsis solutions for potential commercialization
Back in January, nearly 50 MCIRCC members attended the first annual MCIRCC Critical Care Grand Challenge Symposium targeting sepsis, an incredibly complex public health problem that represents more than one million cases annually, a mortality rate up to 40-percent, and the single largest hospital treatment cost in the United States.
The two-day educational symposium concluded with the release of a request for proposal to support high-impact sepsis projects up to $100,000 for milestone driven research guided by co-principal investigators from the U-M Medical School and College of Engineering. Funding for the MCIRCC Grand Challenge was provided by the Deans of the Medical School and College of Engineering as well as the Department of Emergency Medicine. 
MCIRCC received a total of 14 proposals and following a rigorous evaluation process by an external panel of experts, shortlisted eight projects to work hand-in-hand with assigned mentors and other U-M support groups to prepare a detailed project plan and budget that addressed real-world challenges and practical uses for their solutions. On July 16, these eight teams pitched their final proposals to an evaluation committee--comprised of ICU physicians, members of the U-M Office of Technology Transfer and Fast Forward Medical Innovation, and industry and venture capital professionals--for final funding decisions.
Based on the depth and breadth of the science and the apparent commercialization potential in these proposals, the evaluation committee recommended funding the following six projects at $50,000 each:
1. Chiroplasmic Nanorod-PCR (NR-PCR) for Rapid Determination of Bacteremia and Antibiotic Resistance in Sepsis, J. Scott VanEpps, MD, PhD (U-M Medical School) & Nicholas Kotov, PhD (U-M College of Engineering)
2. Development of a Sepsis Point-of-Care (POC) Platform Utilizing Redox Measurements with Integrated Protein Markers of Sepsis as a Bedside Biomarker for Sepsis, Severity of Septic Shock, and as a Gauge for Resuscitation Endpoints, Rodney Daniels, MD (U-M Medical School) & Shuichi Takayama, PhD (U-M College of Engineering)
3. Real-Time Ultrasound Local Lung Ventilation Measurement, Jonathan Rubin, MD, PhD (U-M Medical School) & Cheri Deng, PhD (U-M College of Engineering)
4. Sepsis Endotheliopathy Assessment Panel, Rodney Daniels, MD (U-M Medical School) & Xudong (Sherman) Fan, PhD (U-M College of Engineering)
5. Immunotherapy and Immuno-phenotyping for Treatment of Sepsis, Jean Nemzek, DVM, MS (U-M Medical School) & Jianping Fu, PhD (U-M College of Engineering)
6. Non-Invasive Portable System for Continuous Monitoring of Sepsis, Kayvan Najarian, PhD (U-M Medical School) & Kenn Oldham, PhD (U-M College of Engineering)
Moving forward, these six funded teams will work with MCIRCC's Commercialization Coach to achieve their key milestones and ultimately the next phase in the product development roadmap. 
MCIRCC would like to take this opportunity to congratulate each of the funded teams identified above and to thank all 14 teams for their hard work, creative thought and support of this important initiative. It took all of you to make MCIRCC's first annual Critical Care Grand Challenge a success!
For more information on the Grand Challenge or becoming a MCIRCC member, please contact Janene Centurione at
Sepsis, a Growing Concern:Sepsis
MCIRCC Member Voices Sound Off
Sepsis is garnering more and more media attention, with recent articles in the Detroit Free Press, the Grand Rapids News and on MLive as a result of a recent report issued by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT) and a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on hospitalized patients with sepsis. 

As outlined in the CHRT issue brief, The Cost Burden of Disease: United States and Michigan, hospital discharge rates for septicemia rose sharply among the total population in both the U.S. and Michigan--jumping 57 and 62 percent, respectively, over four years. In 2011, this resulted in total charges for septicemia diagnoses of $74.2 billion in the U.S. and $1.9 billion in Michigan. 

"The rise in severe sepsis can be attributed in part to the fact that more people are surviving life-threatening diseases such as cancer, but those patients also become more vulnerable to diseases such as severe sepsis," says MCIRCC Member Theodore J. Iwashyna, M.D., Ph.D., and co-author of Hospital Deaths in Patients With Sepsis From 2 Independent Cohorts published in JAMA. "Healthy people are also at risk for severe sepsis if they have an infection which triggers the condition." 

Putting the spotlight on sepsis--its seriousness and increasing prevalence--is a step in the right direction. By emphasizing recognition of symptoms, warning those at-risk and reiterating the need for rapid treatment and strong policy leadership alongside innovative treatment options, MCIRCC believes we can change the sepsis paradigm to positively impact this deadly condition.

Don't forget your MCIRCC affiliation!
If you are speaking with the media about your work in critical care research or are working with the U-M News Service or U-M Health System Public Relations on a health care related press release, article, or other news item, please mention your MCIRCC affiliation!
SAVE THE DATE: Registration details coming soon!
October 10, 2014
Innovation Underground
5:00pm - 7:00pm
Location TBD

October 23, 2014
MCIRCC Member Report
4:00pm - 7:00pm
NCRC Building 10 Auditorium "State of the Union" presentation followed by member cocktail mixer

November 20, 2014
Innovation Underground
5:00pm - 7:00pm
Location TBD

January 30, 2015
Innovation Underground
5:00pm - 7:00pm

January 30-31, 2015
Critical Care Grand Challenge
Friday: 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Saturday: 8:00am - 2:00pm
NCRC Building 10, South Atrium 
August 20, 2014
Bridging the Valley of Death: Funding to Help You Cross
5:30pm - 6:30pm
NCRC, Building 10, South Atrium Free Attendance - Register Now

August 27, 2014
11:00am - 2:00pm
Circle Drive in front of Med Sci I
During the annual UMHS Ice Cream Social

September 5 to October 3, 2014
12:00pm - 5:00pm
NCRC Building 10 for 2 live events plus 3 online webinars

September 30, 2014
10:00am - 11:00am
NCRC, Building 10 Auditorium
Presented by Martin Sepulveda, M.D., Vice President of Health Systems and Policy Research and IBM Fellow
Free Attendance

October 1, 2014
10:00am - 11:00am
Palmer Commons Forum Hall
Presented by Martin Sepulveda, M.D., Vice President of Health Systems and Policy Research and IBM Fellow
Free Attendance