February 2014
New finding points to potential options for attacking stem cells in triple-negative breast cancer

Sleep apnea may worsen fatigue in MS patients

University of Michigan startup gets FDA clearance to sell software to hospitals

Innovator Series 2014

"The Quantified Self: How Big Data and Mobile Technology Are Revolutionizing Health Care"  

Featuring special guest speaker Ivo Stivoric, VP of R&D at Jawbone 


Wednesday, March 5  

Ann Arbor SPARK Central

more details & RSVP 




U-M Medical School


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11 Projects Preparing to Fast Forward 

U-M MTRAC selects first round of projects for commercialization funding  

Up to 33% of sedation-related adverse events in non-operative  settings like endoscopy or catheterization are the result of airway obstruction caused by a relaxed tongue or soft tissues. And up until now, the only way to prevent these complications has been through direct observation or the use of invasive airway devices. But a new over-the-face Airway Support Device developed by U-M faculty could easily and inexpensively address this problem.

On January 10th, U-M MTRAC for Life Sciences reviewed a funding proposal for this new device, along with 16 other innovative technologies. Principal investigators presented on proof-of-concept projects that had been reported to the Office of Technology Transfer. Projects evaluated to have a high potential for translation into the commercial industry were selected for funding by an Oversight Committing comprising global biotech business experts and U-M leaders in translational science and tech transfer. Funding can go towards project expenditures such as salary and fringe benefits for project personnel, materials and supplies, equipment and travel.

The 17 proposals covered technology ranging from a fluorescently labeled peptide to be used for early detection for colorectal cancer to 3D printed custom-fitted CPAP Mask for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The MTRAC Oversight Committee selected 11 for funding, including the Airway Support Device presented by Kevin Ward, M.D. and Albert Shih, Ph.D.

Other proposals selected:
  • SRB-1 targeted with anolide nanoconjugates for improved targeted therapy of endocrine cancers by Cohan, Mark & Schwendeman, Anna
  • Thiopurine Monitoring with the ThioMon Algorithmic Test by Balis, Ulysses & Higgins, Peter
  • Targeting EGFR-dimerization and EGFR-Hsp90 interaction for drug resistant lung and colorectal cancers by Nyati, Mukesh & Lawrence, Ted
  • Fluorescent-labeled peptide for targeting early detection of colorectal cancer by Wang, Thomas D.
  • Novel real-time intracardiac mapping system to guide ablation in patients with atrial fibrillation by Berenfeld, Omer & Oral, Hakan
  • Taking the Guesswork out of Brain Surgery by Orringer, Dan
  • Evaluation of PhScN as a Potent Systemic Therapy Combined with Hereceptin and/or Radiation for Breast Cancer by Livant, Donna L.
  • In vivo Assessment of a Novel Intraocular Pressure Transducer by Mian, Shahzad & Chronis, Nikos
  • Dynamic Response Impedance Volume Evaluation (DRIVE) by Tiba, Mohamad; Ward, Kevin; Shih, Albert; Blum, James; Belmont, Barry
  • Clinical Genomic Sequence Analysis Software: Automated variant identification from complex genetic datasets by Elenitoba, Kojo S.J. & Lim, Megan S.
An integral part of the Medical School's Strategic Research Initiative and its Fast Forward Medical Innovation program, U-M MTRAC for Life Sciences has over $7.5 million dollars to be used over the course of three years to accelerate U-M's biomedical innovation pipeline. Questions? Contact Brad Martin, Commercialization Program Director.

$2.9M Grant Awarded to Fast Forward Medical Innovation 

The late William Davidson
Looking to support programs that will accelerate the flow of ideas to the marketplace and spur economic activity in southeast Michigan, the William Davidson Foundation recently awarded $2.9 million to the U-M Medical School to support Fast Forward Medical Innovation activities over the next three years

The Medical School has recently redoubled its efforts to drive technology commercialization based on the ideas and expertise of its faculty scientists and physicians. Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI) focuses on this challenge, and the Davidson Foundation funds will fuel specific efforts within the initiative. The funds will enable programs to more deeply engage faculty and "mine" for promising projects, to broaden efforts to promote innovation and commercialization, and to create new commercialization education, training and mentoring opportunities for inventors and entrepreneurs.

"The creativity and accomplishments of our faculty present enormous potential, and this grant will help move their discoveries forward to benefit patients of the future," says Medical School Dean James O. Woolliscroft, M.D. "This grant will also further our goal of creating jobs and spurring the creation of new businesses in the state of Michigan."

The grant will especially help with the continued effort to strengthen the state's biotech sector. "We are committed to being a force multiplier for biomedical innovation in the state of Michigan and on the world stage," notes Kevin Ward, M.D., executive director of FFMI. "This investment by the Davidson Foundation will help us more quickly bring new technologies and innovations to patients and families, and nurture a culture of commercialization and entrepreneurship for tomorrow."

U-M Pathologists Win Entrepreneurship Prize  

Gene-based cancer diagnosis tech will receive $40k for further development
Three U-M pathologists who recently received one of the inaugural MTRAC awards for software that could improve cancer diagnosis and treatment have also won a statewide entrepreneurship competition organized by the Center for Entrepreneurship at the U-M College of Engineering.

Taking first place overall as well as in the health category of the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize on Friday was team GENOMENON. Members are Mark Kiel, a pathology resident in the Medical School, and pathology professors Dr. Megan Lim and Dr. Kojo Elenitoba-Johnson. The team received $40,000.

Beyond a simple contest, the prize was a unique three-month training program that helped inventors find markets for their technologies and develop their businesses. It utilized the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps curriculum and offered it to undergraduates for the first time.

"This program is exceptional," Kiel said. "We realized our technology had potential as a business, but we had no idea where we would start. The program has really illuminated the process for us. It's only been three months and we're already on the verge of producing a commercially viable product."

The researchers recognized a need to more quickly interpret genetic information - to find mutations among the 3 billion bits of DNA that make up a patient's genome. So they developed a software program that automates the process and focuses on what they call "clinically important mutations."

Today it takes a long time and a team of specialists to look at a piece of a cancerous tumor, for example, and determine whether it contains harmful genetic mutations. But having that information, the researchers said, helps them better determine the type of cancer, how advanced it is and what the most effective treatment might be.

"GENOMENON software essentially democratizes genome sequencing," Kiel said.

Kickstart Awards Requesting Proposals  

Funding available for preliminary development with potential to lead to new products
In addition to its inaugural class of grants, MTRAC recently announced the launch of its new Kickstart Award program.

Offering funding up to $25K, Kickstart Awards provide support for preliminary studies or development activities such as animal testing, prototype development, beta development, or drug-candidate screening. Funds will enable activities that can help a project along a developmental path from lab to clinic, potentially making it more eligible for commercialization.

Kickstart will be an ongoing program, with proposals being reviewed on a rolling basis until available funding has been distributed. You'll find more details about the Kickstart Awards, as well as the pre-submission forms, on the MTRAC website, or contact Nick DeHaan with questions.

Introducing "Innovator Series 2014" Events 

Fast Forward Medical Innovation sponsors series aimed at helping faculty become more commercialization savvy
Fast Forward Medical Innovation is ramping up its education mission with the recent announcement of upcoming "Innovator Series 2014" events. With great resources among our faculty - and our industry partners - who can offer advice and insights on the many paths to successful commercialization, the Innovator Series will offer learning sessions where faculty can benefit from a dialogue with our more experienced colleagues.
Ivo Stivoric
"The Quantified Self: How Big Data and Mobile Technology Are Revolutionizing Health Care" is the first session in the Innovator Series at 5:00pm on Wednesday, March 5 at Ann Arbor SPARK Central at 330 E. Liberty.

Fast Forward Medical Innovation Executive Director Kevin Ward, MD will be speaking, along with special guest Ivo Stivoric, Vice President of R&D at Jawbone. They'll offer an experienced perspective on how industry and academic researchers can partner in the exciting, fast-changing realm of mobile technology. There's still time to RSVP for this event, simply click here.

Other upcoming sessions in the Innovator Series:

March 26
Navigating the Innovation Ecosystem - Find Your Medical Innovation GPS
Do you have an idea for a biomedical innovation but have no idea how to take it forward? Curious about possible resources? Let our panel members be your "innovation GPS" to the commercialization ecosystem at the U-M and beyond. This event is co-sponsored by the Medical School Office of Research, U-M Tech Transfer, and the U-M Kellogg Eye Center. Panelists will include:
  • Jack Miner, MBA, Director, U-M Tech Transfer Venture Center
  • Brad Martin, PhD, Program Director, U-M MTRAC for Life Sciences
  • Connie Chang, MBA, Managing Director, Fast Forward Medical Innovation
  • Jonathan Fay, PhD, Associate Director, COE Center for Entrepreneurship
May 7
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Medical Innovation
Therapeutics, devices, diagnostics - each area presents its own unique challenges when it comes to taking projects from bench to bedside. Learn more about the peaks and valleys of commercialization from our panel of U-M experts who have all "been there, done that." This event is co-sponsored by the Medical School Office of Research, U-M Tech Transfer, and the U-M Taubman Medical Research Institute. Panelists will include:
  • Victor Strecher, PhD, MPH, U-M SPH Professor and Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship
  • Shaomeng Wang, PhD, Professor of Internal Medicine, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Chemistry
  • William Roberts, MD, Assistant Professor of Urology
  • Steven Goldstein, PhD, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
July 9
Catch the Wave of the Digital Medicine Revolution
When it comes to digital health innovation, what's the best way to navigate early-stage prototyping and coding needs? What about customer discovery? Or the uncertain regulatory landscape? Join our panel of experts as they discuss the trends, share experiences, and most importantly highlight U-M resources to help you join the Digital Healthcare Revolution! This event is co-sponsored by the Medical School Office of Research and U-M Tech Transfer. Panelists will include:
  • Larry An, MD, Director, U-M Center for Health Communication Research
  • Drew Bennett, MBA, Senior Licensing Specialist, U-M Tech Transfer
CLICK HERE for more details, or to RSVP for these FREE events.

Heart Study Shows Benefit of Medtronic CoreValve System 

One year after, aortic stenosis patients alive without having major stroke
A landmark heart valve trial that included patients from the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center showed positive results for those whose lives were impaired by aortic stenosis.

The clinical trial evaluated a new transcatheter valve - the Medtronic CoreValve® System - and revealed some of the lowest stroke rates ever reported.

The University of Michigan is one of 40 sites in the U.S. to enroll patients in the extreme risk study of the trial - patients with severe aortic stenosis who were too ill to have their aortic valves replaced through traditional open heart surgery. One year after receiving a CoreValve implant, nearly three-quarters of patients were alive without a major stroke, which is highly significant given their complex medical conditions.

The rate of stroke - one of the complications physicians and patients fear most because it increases mortality and affects quality of life - was 2.4 percent, and it remained low over time with a one-year rate of 4.1 percent, according to results released in a late-breaking clinical trial session at TCT 2013.

The emergence of TAVR procedures in the U.S. is providing new hope for high-risk aortic patients. The procedures allow access to the diseased aortic valve percutaneously, meaning through the skin, usually through an artery in the leg, rather than through open surgery.

Patients currently have two TAVR options with Medtronic's investigational CoreValve device and the FDA-approved Edwards SAPIEN Heart Valve.

The U-M offers both options and recently celebrated performing its 200th TAVR procedure. 

When it comes to the potentially transformative procedures, the U-M has performed more than any other Michigan hospital and is among the tops in the nation.

The U-M study team includes Paul Michael Grossman, M.D., director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Stanley J. Chetcuti, M.D., director of the cardiac catherization lab at the U-M Cardiovascular Center, G. Michael Deeb, M.D., director of the multidisciplinary aortic clinic and the Herbert Sloan Collegiate professor of surgery, and Himanshu J. Patel, M.D., associate professor of surgery.

Approximately 300,000 people worldwide who suffer from severe narrowing of their aortic valves, which prohibits blood from efficiently pumping from their heart to the body. One-third of these patients are deemed too ill or frail to undergo open-heart surgery. Without treatment, these patients have a 50 percent chance of death within one year.

In the CoreValve study, 471 patients received the replacement valve, which was delivered through the femoral artery in the leg, threaded through arteries and across the aorta, and deployed in the native aortic valve.

Once in place, the CoreValve System is designed to take over the native valve's function and ensure that oxygen-rich blood flows into the aorta and circulates throughout the body.
The goal of aortic valve replacement for these high-risk patients is not only to improve their survival but also to enhance their lives.
About Us
The Fast Forward Medical Innovation team at the University of Michigan Medical School works to accelerate innovation and commercialization of research at its inception, collaborate with commercial partners via novel models, and enhance medical education by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship at all levels. We help UMMS faculty and strategic partners collaborate, with the ultimate goal of accelerating research and technology to improve human health. To connect, email us or call 734-615-5060.
Office of Research
Fast Forward Medical Innovation is part of the Office of Research, where our mission is to foster an environment of innovation and efficiency that serves the U-M Medical School community and supports biomedical science from insight to impact.