December 2014

The Secrets of Non-Disclosure Agreements 


Wednesday, Dec 17


CLICK HERE for more information and to register for this FREE FFMI session. 


IP In-Depth: Patenting Strategies for Biomedical Research Discoveries 


Wednesday, Jan 14


CLICK HERE for more details and to RSVP for this FREE FFMI event.  


Ideation for Impact: Health IT


Friday, Feb 6 

BSRB, Seminar Rooms 

CLICK HERE for more details and to RSVP for this FREE FFMI event.   


Three from UMHS named among eight U-M AAAS Fellows

Finalists named in seventh 1,000 Pitches competition

How smartphone apps can treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

Tiny proteins may unleash big victories over cancer through new $10 million U-M tumor research effort

(Bionic) eye on the prize

PCA3 may have role predicting prostate biopsy outcome

U-M Medical School

UMMS Office of Research

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U-M Business Engagement Center

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U-M Main Page


View Our Holiday Video

Dear Colleagues,

It's been an exciting first year for the Fast Forward Medical Innovation team as we've made great progress in our strategies to accelerate U-M biomedical research discoveries into the marketplace where they can positively impact human health.


During the year, as our core initiatives and programs started to pick up speed and momentum, we were also able to pilot creative new programs such as the Early Tech Development Course and Personalized Funding Consultation services. Other 2014 highlights include:


* The William Davidson Foundation generously awarded $2.9 million to FFMI over three years. This funding is enabling our 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 faculty researchers.


* 11 projects funded through the U-M Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program (U-M MTRAC) with critical support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Of those, we expect 3 start-ups and as many licenses based on where they are today. In 2015, 21 new proposals are being considered for MTRAC funding.  


* FFMI partnered with Novo Nordisk to identify three projects funded for two years for a total of $2.3 million, through the company's Biologics Forum program. These projects all focus on aspects of diabetic systems complications, and there are ongoing discussions to further expand this relationship to help accelerate new therapies to patients.


* FFMI played a critical role in developing and executing a unique co-development partnership with IBM and AirStrip to develop big-data clinical decision support algorithms for use in critical care.


* 13 teams went through the inaugural Early Tech Development Course, modeled off the highly successful NSF I-Corps program in partnership with U-M's Center for Entrepreneurship. The program takes teams through an intensive 4-week customer discovery process preparing them to refine their development and go-to-market strategies.


2015 promises to bring even more success as we continue to push the innovation envelope, finding new ways to serve our faculty colleagues and external partners. The FFMI team is dedicated to patient care by serving our faculty as our most valuable innovation asset. I invite you to CLICK HERE to view our holiday greeting, and wish you and your families the best of holidays.


Best Regards


Kevin Ward, M.D.

Executive Director, Fast Forward Medical Innovation


U-M on the Leading Edge of Cancer Diagnosis

MTRAC program takes aim at cancer identification and treatment 

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 can help better determine the type of cancer, how advanced it is, and what the most effective treatment might be.


U-M Medical School faculty Mark J. Kiel, Kojo S.J. Elenitoba-Johnson, M.D., and Megan S. Lim, M.D., Ph.D., are the award-winning team of pathologists that 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. As a result, they developed GENOMENON, an innovative software program that automates the process and focuses on what the researchers call "clinically important mutations."


GENOMENON is a user-friendly software that will simplify the genome sequencing process. Intended for use in both research and clinical diagnostics laboratories, it will pull raw data from genomes and make it available to doctors in just minutes, using an innovative approach to data analysis and display. The mission is to fully enable personalized medicine by providing faster and more accurate genetic analysis.


"GENOMENON software essentially democratizes genome sequencing interpretation," says Kiel.


"MTRAC (Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program) funding and guidance has provided the resources to begin finalizing the first software product and to produce demonstration data to present to our first customers," says Elenitoba-Johnson.


MTRAC is supported by the U-M Medical School, the U-M Tech Transfer Office, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and works to "fast forward" projects with a high potential of commercial success, with the ultimate goal of positively impacting human health. GENOMENON is just one of 11 projects in the 2014 cohort funded by MTRAC. And the program recently closed its 2015 RFP, with 29 new proposals submitted for consideration for early commercialization development funding.


Green Light From FDA for CT Lung-Imaging Software  

U-M startup company Imbio gets approval for Lung Density Analysis for COPD 

A technology that started in a University of Michigan Medical School lab may soon help lung disease patients around the world breathe a little easier, by helping their doctors make a clearer diagnosis and more individualized treatment plan.


Imbio, a startup launched from the University of Michigan in 2007, has just received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell its software platform based on U-M research. Called Lung Density Analysis or LDA, it analyzes images of patients' lungs with detailed precision.


The new FDA 510(K) clearance allows doctors to use Imbio's LDA system in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, which affects over 60 million people worldwide.


The software allows doctors to carefully analyze a patient's CT lung scan and look at how their disease is affecting their ability to fill their lungs with air and to push it out when they exhale.


The technology grew out of basic laboratory research at U-M by the company's co-founders, Brian Ross, Ph.D., and Alnawaz Rehemtulla, Ph.D. Both now act as scientific advisors to Imbio.


"It's incredibly gratifying to see this concept grow from an idea in our lab, to a product ready for market," says Ross. "We look forward to seeing how clinicians worldwide can use the LDA approach to benefit patients, and we're grateful to all who have helped this concept reach this exciting point through many years of research and product development." He credited the university's research and technology transfer environment for helping the concept reach the marketable stage.


Discovery Fund RFP 

Letters of Intent due January 5 

Earlier this year, the UMHS Victors for Michigan campaign hosted a fundraising event at NCRC called the Discovery Ball. Senior Associate Dean for Research Steven Kunkel recently announced that the proceeds from this event have been designated as the Discovery Fund, intended to advance discovery from bench to bedside.


The Discovery Fund seeks to identify investigator-initiated, bold, and innovative science in areas that cross the basic to clinical research continuum. The RFP will identify interdisciplinary teams led by early-stage investigators who are collaborating with more established investigators on new projects that can impact the research pipeline, driving bench science into the clinic to ultimately impact human health. Up to six successful proposals will be funded, $150,000/proposal.

More details and the complete RFP can be found on Competition Space, with Letters of Intent due by Monday, January 5.  

DataDirect Launch 

New self-serve research tool offers U-M researchers access to aggregated data from a pool of 2+ million patients 

On Wednesday, December 10, the U-M Medical School Office of Research launched a new self-serve tool called DataDirect to facilitate Cohort Discovery for faculty researchers.


Part of the Strategic Research Initiative, this tool enables internal faculty and staff access to robust, up-to-date data on more than two million unique patients from across the UMHS enterprise to inform study design and determine feasibility of eligible patients for recruitment. Future iterations of this tool will allow for downloading actual data sets, both de-identified and identifiable.


U-M researchers CLICK HERE to access DataDirect. You'll need to provide your Level 2 password and complete a PEERRS module. Training resources are also available via a link within the tool (Data-Direct-Help).  


The UMMS Office of Research is committed to the usability and success of DataDirect - we welcome feedback at  


Mentors Needed for the NSF's I-Corps Program 

Mentoring opportunities available for several cutting-edge projects   

The Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE)  in the University of Michigan's College of Engineering is looking for experienced mentors for the NSF's prestigious Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program.  


This 7-week program pairs mentors with a faculty member doing NSF-funded research and a graduate student or post-doctoral researcher. If you're interested in being part of this elite group, contact Norm Rapino at  

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.