January 2015

Ideation for Impact: Health IT 

Friday, February 6 


Seminar Rooms, BSRB

Reception immediately following

CLICK HERE for more details and to register for this FREE event 


Early Tech Development Course - 4-week course in May and June 2015

CLICK HERE for more details and to register for this FREE event 

Campus docs and engineers forge new path to innovation and profits

The top 50 universities producing VC-backed entrepreneurs

Key cancer-promoting gene uncovered

Researchers discover new genetic anomalies in lung cancer

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Congratulations 2015 MTRAC Awardees!  

11 projects selected for funding from a competitive field

The U-M Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program (MTRAC) held its Oversight Committee meeting the first week of January. At the meeting, 16 finalists presented proof-of-concept projects to the Oversight Committee, which is comprised of global biotech business experts and U-M leaders in translational science and tech transfer. Of these teams, 11 were selected for funding:


Ashwin Belle, Rodney Daniels and Kayvan Najarian

Advanced Hemodynamic Assessment and Monitoring Using Computer-Aided Analysis of ECG Signals

Tiffany Braley

Dimethyl fumarate: a novel therapeutic agent for obstructive sleep apnea

Todd Herron and Jose Jalife

Human Heart in a Dish: Novel In Vitro Cardiotoxicity Testing Platform


Thiran K. Jayasundera

EyeAnalyze: Automated Identification and Quantification of Changes in Retinal Diseases

Melvin McInnis

A Clinical Intervention Trial of Bipolar Disorder: Predicting Individual Outcomes for Rapid Intervention (PRIORI)

Kayvan Najarian and Brahmajee Nallamothu

Computer-Aided System for Automated Analysis of Coronary Angiograms

Mukesh Nyati and Ted Lawrence

Targeting erlotinib resistant EGFR for degradation in lung and colorectal cancers


David Raffel and Venk Murthy

18F-Hydroxyphenethylguanidine for PET Quantification of Cardiac Sympathetic Nerve Density in Patients with Ischemic Cardiomyopathy Undergoing ICD Implantation

Michael Sabel

Development and implementation of clinical companion mobile technologies in health care

Christopher Whitehead and Judy Leopold

EGFR and PI3K inhibitors: Design and Discovery of Dual Lipid and Receptor Kinase Inhibitors


Matt Young and Nicholas Donato

Targeting deubiquitinases with small molecule inhibitors: A novel approach in cancer pathway and oncotarget inactivation


MTRAC provides mid-stage, translational research funding and resources to identify, nurture, and "fast forward" projects with a high potential of commercial success. This is the second year of the successful MTRAC program, with 29 high-quality proposals submitted for consideration.


Projects that do not receive MTRAC funding can still take advantage of a variety of FFMI commercialization education programs, as well as other funding sources such as Kickstart. Kickstart awards aim to enhance the commercial potential of a technology to the point of translation and possible inclusion in future MTRAC or other research funding programs. Four of this year's winning MTRAC teams prepped for their proposals by participating in Kickstart.


CLICK HERE to learn more about MTRAC and Kickstart.

Innovative Screening Technique Helps With Early Colon Cancer Detection

Advanced imaging with fluorescently-labeled peptides target pre-cancerous changes in the colon

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer diagnosed in the United States and the world. In 2012, about 1,360,000 new cases were diagnosed, resulting in about 693,000 annual deaths. More effective methods for early detection are keys to preventing the disease. But not all pre-cancerous lesions can be seen with standard techniques.


Screening for colorectal cancer is currently performed by visually examining the colon with standard "white-light" colonoscopy. However, this method is unable to detect a large fraction of pre-malignant lesions-in particular, those that are "flat" in architecture.


Thomas Wang, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, H. Marvin Pollard Collegiate Professor of Endoscopy Research at the University of Michigan, has developed a technique to more effectively screen for colon cancer. The method uses a peptide labeled with optical contrast agents (dyes) that bind specifically to biological molecules on the cell surface of abnormal tissues. These provide a "red flag" to help the physician guide tissue biopsy and result in earlier detection of difficult-to-identify pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions, especially in high-risk patients. Suspicious lesions are spotted using a special medical endoscope. The advanced imaging allows doctors to look at molecular targets rather than structural changes.


This screening technique will prove beneficial to patients who are at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer. This group includes patients over 50 years old, patients with a past medical history of inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of colorectal cancer, Lynch syndrome, or familial adenomatous polyposis.


There are over 15 million colonoscopies performed annually in the United States. The current method of screening has been widely accepted by referring primary care physicians and the general patient population. However, a significant miss rate of more than 25% has been found on back-to-back exams for grossly visible adenomatous polyps. In addition, flat lesions can give rise to carcinoma and represent more than 24% of all adenomas. Flat adenomas are more biologically aggressive than polyps, and 5 times more likely to harbor diseases that doctors can't normally see. Although colonoscopy is widely performed for screening, there is only a moderate reduction in mortality for carcinomas in the proximal colon-and cancer diagnosed after a "negative" colonoscopy occurs more frequently in the proximal colon. So these novel imaging methods that are sensitive to flat lesions and gross polyps may improve detection and prevention of colorectal cancer.


"There is a large market and great clinical need for this product," says Dr. Wang. "A higher diagnostic yield may either reduce the need for additional exams or extend the times between exams. Patients would be able to minimize the physical discomfort associated with taking the prep and the inconvenience from undergoing sedation for the procedure."


"MTRAC (Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program) funding and guidance gives us the resources we need as we complete our clinical studies and go through the process of moving the product to market," says Dr. Wang.


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. The fluorescent-labeled peptide project is just one of 11 projects in the 2014 cohort funded by MTRAC. And the program recently announced its 2015 MTRAC awardees, with 11 teams set to receive early commercialization development funding this year.


U-M Receives $7M from Bristol-Myers Squibb

Clinical trial will evaluate Orencia for new application in scleroderma treatment

University of Michigan researchers were recently awarded $7 million by Bristol-Myers Squibb to conduct an international clinical trial in patients with diffuse systemic sclerosis, also known as scleroderma.


The investigator-initiated award was given to U-M Scleroderma Program Director Dinesh Khanna, M.D., M.S., associate professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology and Cathie Spino, Sc.D., of the U-M School of Public Health.


There are currently no known treatments for this devastating disease. The Abatacept Systemic Sclerosis Trial (ASSET) will evaluate the company's abatacept (Orencia), which is FDA approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, to reduce the symptoms of sclerosis.


Mechanistic work in the trial is supported by the NIH/NIAID as part of the Clinical Autoimmunity Center of Excellence (ACE) grant to U-M. The principal investigator of the overall ACE is David Fox, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and chief of the Division of Rheumatology. Khanna is the project principal investigator.


More information on the ASSET trial can be found at


U-M Coulter Program Announces 2015 Call for Proposals

Coulter Program offers funding for engineer/clinician research collaborations

Have a technical innovation idea that could improve patient care? The U-M Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program is pleased to announce the 2015 Call for Proposals. The deadline for proposal submission is March 2, 2015.


The U-M Coulter Program is funded through proceeds of an endowment from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. The goal of this program is to support translational research project collaborations between engineers and clinicians in order to accelerate the development and commercialization of new medical devices, diagnostics, and other biomedical products that address unmet clinical needs and lead to improvements in health care.  


Projects are supported and mentored by a team of industry-experienced experts who proactively work to accelerate Coulter Program objectives of developing new product concepts to the point of partnering with industry or forming start-up companies with follow-on funding to commercialize new products envisioned from translational research efforts.  


Distinctive aspects of the Coulter Program include business assessment work that dovetails with technical milestones for each project.  


Specific benefits to each project include:

  • Business development support
  • Intellectual Property advice and legal support
  • Regulatory guidance
  • Follow-on funding guidance
  • Mentorship from Oversight Committee 


CLICK HERE for more information about the U-M Coulter Program. CLICK HERE to download Coulter Proposal instructions and application form.


For direct questions, please contact Thomas Marten, Coulter Program Director, at or (734)647-1680.

miLEAD Business Consultation Service Teaches Skills for Success

miLEAD helps SE Michigan scientists and tech companies obtain industry experience and build relationships

The Michigan Life Sciences Engineering Advising and Development (miLEAD) consulting group is a non-profit organization founded and led by U-M postdoctoral fellows. Members are comprised of postdocs and graduate students from various academic backgrounds. They provide short-term consulting services to the scientists and tech companies throughout southeast Michigan.


In their first year, miLEAD completed five projects for four clients, all from the University of Michigan. The team has expanded to 22 members, both postdocs and senior graduate students. In 2015, they're planning to extend their reach to local companies.


"miLEAD did a great job working with me on the MTRAC Intraocular Pressure project," said Brad Martin, Ph.D., U-M MTRAC for Life Sciences Commercialization Program Director. "Their advice and ideas were very helpful. miLEAD is a unique resource that provides quality work at a very reasonable price. I highly recommend them."


 CLICK HERE for more information on how miLEAD can work for you. 

Business Engagement Center (BEC) Annual Report  

Annual Report highlights exciting strides in U-M research collaborations

The U-M Business Engagement Center (BEC) recently released its 2014 Annual Report. The BEC works to build and strengthen industry relationships that help to sustain the excellence of U-M's educational and research enterprise and value.


The Annual Report cites metrics and highlights some important programs and relationships that U-M holds with outside industry. This includes the University-wide research relationship with Procter & Gamble (P&G).


In 2011, U-M began working with P&G as part of a statewide master research agreement (MRA) that led to the launch of several research projects. Joint interest in further developing this collaborative relationship led to a new MRA that will direct a minimum of $750,000 in new projects to U-M over the next three years.


In October 2014, U-M was one of four global winners, and the only U.S. institution, awarded with the P&G Private-Public Partnership Award recognizing entities that have created value by accelerating P&G's innovation program.


CLICK HERE to view the BEC Annual Report.


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.