April 2014
Researchers find the off switch for scleroderma


A silly putty ingredient helps stem cells grow


Medtronic valve for congenital heart defects works well a year later


Scientists use stem cells to study bipolar disorder  




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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Medical Innovation

FREE May 7 Innovator Series Event

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."     

Wednesday, May 7
5:00pm Session 
6:00pm Networking Reception 
Seminar Rooms, Biomedical Science Research Building 
  • Victor Strecher, Ph.D., MPH, U-M SPH Professor and Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship
  • Shaomeng Wang, Ph.D., Professor of Internal Medicine, Pharmacology, and Medicinal Chemistry
  • William Roberts, M.D., Associate Professor of Urology and Biomedical Engineering 
  • Steven Goldstein, Ph.D., Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery 

Part of the "Fast Forward Innovator Series 2014," this event is co-sponsored by Fast Forward Medical Innovation, the Medical School Office of Research, U-M Tech Transfer, and the U-M Taubman Medical Research Institute.


CLICK HERE to register for this free event.  


First Kickstart Award Announced 

Seed Funding for Cancer Therapeutic Proof-of-Concept

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease. A U-M researcher is developing new insights - and potential therapies - into decreasing the activity of the gene responsible for a large percentage of those cancer deaths.

Fast Forward Medical Innovation recently announced its first Kickstart Award recipient, Dipankar Ray, Ph.D. Ray, an assistant professor in the U-M Radiation Oncology department, has received $25k for work that will allow him to determine the ability of three lead compounds to modulate disease state in a tumor xenograft model. It will also allow a limited pharmacokinetic analysis of the compound that demonstrates the best performance.

"Kickstart is unique in that we can disperse the awards within five or six weeks of application," said Bradley Martin, Ph.D. and Commercialization Program Director for the U-M Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Program, part of Fast Forward Medical Innovation.  


"This is the type of work that would never have been funded through traditional channels, and will allow Dr. Ray to perform proof-of-concept studies and establish the clinical utility of his approach.  It is the hope that he'll then progress to our MTRAC translation program and ultimately commercialize the therapy."

Funding for Ray's Kickstart Award was provided by MTRAC and the Department of Radiation Oncology. Fast Forward Medical Innovation is currently seeking proposals for additional Kickstart Awards, work that will advance a technology to the point of product development.  


Questions? CLICK HERE 


GlaxoSmithKline Call for Proposals

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) recently announced an RFP they are calling their "Discovery Fast Track Challenge."
This challenge offers a unique opportunity for U-M investigators to submit a drug discovery concept for collaboration, and a chance to work with GSK scientists in partnering with industry to find new medicines.

Go to the Challenge website to learn more about this opportunity, including application instructions and proposal selection criteria.

Please contact Stephanie Morley on the FFMI Business Development team via email or 764-3635 if you have additional questions.


U-M Faculty Chosen for Novo Nordisk Board   

Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk recently selected two U-M Medical School faculty for their Diabetes Complications Advisory Board this spring.  


Thomas Gardner, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Arts, and Matthias Kretzler, Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Medicine, Professor of Internal Medicine and Research Professor, Computational Medicine, were invited to participate in detailed discussions about diabetes complications. 

Both Gardner and Kretzler have established reputations in diabetic complications of the eye and kidney respectively. Their work on the Diabetes Complications Advisory Board continues the expanding relationship between U-M and Novo Nordisk that resulted last year in three new diabetes-related sponsored projects to David Antonetti, Steven Abcouwer, Jiandie Lin and Liangyou Rui which total $2.3 million over two years.


Questions about collaboration opportunities with Novo Nordisk? Contact Debra Grega on the FFMI Business Development team via email or at 764-7815. 


SBIR/STTR Deadlines in June 

NSF's Commercialization Funding Opportunities  

The National Science Foundation's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) / Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program aims to transform commercially promising scientific discovery into social and economic benefit.

This is just a reminder that SBIR/STTR funding is a great opportunity for U-M researchers on the path to commercialization, especially those working with a startup or small business.
NSF solicitation topics include:
* Smart Health and Biomedical Technologies
* Biological Technologies
* Chemical and Environmental Technologies
* Advanced Materials and Instrumentation
* Advanced Manufacturing and Nanotechnology
* Electronic Hardware, Robotics, and Wireless Technologies
* Information and Communication Technologies
* Educational Technologies and Applications

Grants are split into two phases:
Phase I: $225,000, 12 months
Phase II: $750,000, 2 years     


SBIR proposals are due Tuesday, June 10 
Solicitation NSF 14-539
STTR proposals are due Wednesday, June 11 
Solicitation NSF 14-540
To learn more about this opportunity, or for help developing a proposal, please contact the FFMI team via email or at 764-2695.

New Approaches for Foundation & Industry Funding 

May 14 Symposium at NCRC

In addition to our May 7 commercialization event described above, FFMI team members will also be participating in a symposium for faculty titled "Partnering with the Private Sector in Research."  

Wednesday, May 14

8:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Dining Hall, NCRC Building 18
Hosted by the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC), it's a free symposium where industry and foundation business development professionals, along with our own U-M experts, will address the latest trends and topics in academic-private sector collaboration.
The first panel discussion at 8:35am will focus on foundation collaboration, featuring panelists:
  • Frederick Dombrose, Ph.D., President,The Hartwell Foundation
  • Cristina Davis, Ph.D., University of California Davis
  • Maria Figueroa, U-M Foundation Relations
  • Betsy Myers, Ph.D., Program Director, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
And a second session at 10:45am will look at industry collaboration, and feature:
  • Mathew Becker, Ph.D., University of Akron
  • Roger Day, Ph.D., Director of Corporate R&D, Lubrizol
  • Bruce Gingles, Vice President of Global Technology Assessment & Healthcare Policy, Cook Medical
  • Alan Portela, CEO, Airstrip (recently honored as one of the "Top 50 in Digital Health")
  • Florian J. Schattenmann, Ph.D., Global R&D Director, Dow
  • Kevin Ward, M.D., Executive Director, UMMS Fast Forward Medical Innovation
A subsequent networking lunch will provide researchers with an opportunity to engage with these special guests, as well as other stakeholders at the U-M who specialize in fostering external partnerships.

This event is co-sponsored by the U-M Office of the Vice President for Research, the U-M Medical School, the U-M Business Engagement Center, and the North Campus Research Complex.

CLICK HERE to register for this free event.
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.