October 2015

Med Student Mixer
Friday, October 16
Sava's Restaurant
216 S. State St.
Join us for an informal mixer to learn more about the new Pathway of Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship program

FFMI House Staff Innovation & Entreneurship Program
- 34-week course offers a lecture hour during each Wednesday night session that is open to anyone
Kellogg Eye Center, Oliphant-Marshall Auditorium
CLICK HERE for the upcoming lecture agenda
Early Tech Development Course - 4-week course in October and November 2015
CLICK HERE for more details and to register for this FREE program
These "sponges" can soak up cancer cells

New drug might help treat irritable bowel syndrome

Genetic landscape can impact treatment for children with rare, aggressive cancer

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Record-Breaking Year for U-M Biomedical Inventions, Patents, & More 

Medical School research is coming out of the lab and into the marketplace faster than ever before 

With the recent announcement of fiscal year 2015 numbers, it's clear that more ideas and inventions are making their way out of U-M research laboratories and into the "real world" than ever before.

The increase in new inventions was aided by a partnership between FFMI and U-M Tech Transfer, and strong collaboration with the College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) on commercialization education programming.

In the fiscal year that ended in June, Medical School tech transfer activity resulted in:
  • 166 new inventions, up from 133 the year before
  • 51 new patent applications, up from 45
  • 54 patents awarded, up from 39
  • 74 new option and license agreements with industry, up from 60
  • 10 new startup companies, up from 1
  • $74.8 million in revenues from Medical School tech transfer license agreements. A substantial component of these revenues is from a monetization agreement connected to a previous license for a drug initially developed at U-M to help patients with Gaucher disease.
"It's been a whirlwind since we launched Fast Forward Medical Innovation, but these results and the incredible pipeline of other ideas we're building prove that investing in innovation can truly pay off," says  Kevin Ward, M.D., FFMI Executive Director. "The research we do at this Medical School has an incredible potential to help patients in the near and long term, and we're working to unleash more of that potential than ever before. Working closely with our innovation partners around campus, including Tech Transfer and CFE, greatly enhances our ability to move those great ideas to impact. "

CLICK HERE to read the full article. 

Introducing Fast Forward GI Innovation Fund  

Three-year program targets discovery and development of future technologies to help patients suffering from gastrointestinal (GI) disease 

FFMI recently announced the formation of the Fast Forward Gastrointestinal (GI) Innovation Fund, a three-year, $500,000+ fund supported by a donation from entrepreneur alumna Mary Petrovich and matched by the Medical School's Department of Internal Medicine and its Division of Gastroenterology as well as the College of Engineering, where Ms. Petrovich received her undergraduate degree.

The Fund will support early-stage research that may have future impact on GI patients. It will be used for key research commercialization activities such as those related to technology validation and establishing proof-of-concept, including pilot funding support for preliminary studies or development activities that will lead to broader GI product applications. Importantly the fund seeks to engage interdisciplinary teams of researchers that leverage ideas and technologies across medicine, engineering, public health and other key units engaged in biomedical research.  
A Request for Proposals for the Fund will be released in early December via UMMS Competition Space, with an anticipated submission deadline of mid January. There will be two tiers of funding available. Tier I awards will be in the range of $10-$25K and fund projects that address a discrete milestone that is critical to the advancement of research to the point of product development. Tier II awards will be $50-75K and fund projects with specific milestones for proof-of-concept and later-stage translational studies (ranges are estimates and actual funding levels will be project-specific).

The FFMI team is in the process of finalizing the fund details and assembling an Advisory Board of faculty, industry, and commercialization experts who will review proposals and provide mentorship for the funded teams. The fund and approach is modeled after FFMI's highly successful Kickstart and MTRAC programs.

"The goal of the Fast Forward GI Innovation Fund is to accelerate innovative research in the important field of gastroenterology here at the U-M," notes Kevin Ward, M.D., FFMI Executive Director. "Thanks to this extremely generous donation from Mary Petrovich, we're taking a significant step toward producing the next generation of research and technology development that will revolutionize the care of GI patients."

Interested in learning more about the GI Innovation Fund? Go to the website or join the FFMI team for a kickoff event:

Fast Forward GI Innovation Fund Kickoff
Friday, November 20
Seminar Rooms, BSRB


Human Heart in a Dish

New testing platform demonstrates safety of early-stage drugs

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the United States, with 2,200 people dying every day. Researchers are constantly looking for new therapeutics to treat these deadly diseases, and safety testing is critical as new chemical entities move forward on the path to becoming effective drug candidates. But many potentially good drugs are removed from further development and never reach patients because they are found to be potentially cardiotoxic.
Previously, a compound's cardiac safety was determined by either its effect on the heart's contractile activity or its likelihood of leading to life-threatening arrhythmia. The latter is usually determined via chemical testing on intact animals or animal cells. However, these tests are unreliable and often flag a potential drug as risky, removing it from further development despite its overall potential beneficial therapeutic effects.
University of Michigan team Todd Herron, Ph.D. and Jose Jalife, M.D. recognized a need to streamline the drug development process and promote the release of new drugs to market. As a result, they designed a platform for cardiotoxicity testing using cardiac muscle cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Herron and Jalife have generated an unlimited supply of these cardiac muscle cells that can be cryopreserved, thawed, and cultured. The derived cells display all the physiologic hallmarks of cardiac muscle cells, and can accurately predict eventual cardiotoxicity in humans. These safety tests are required for any potential therapeutic compound, antibody, or other biological/chemical entity.
"This platform reduces the chances of advancing experimental drugs with serious cardiac safety issues, and can save the pharmaceutical industry millions of dollars and precious time," says Herron. "It will also catapult the use of human stem cell derived cardiac muscle cells into mainstream toxicity testing, resulting in a significant decrease in the amount of animal testing."
"MTRAC funding has been critical as we develop this technology," says Jalife. "And the MTRAC business development support is extremely helpful in guiding us towards additional funding opportunities to continue towards commercialization."
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 Human Heart in a Dish project is just one of 11 projects in the 2015 cohort funded by MTRAC. In 2014, the program funded 11 teams for early commercialization development.

Deadline Tomorrow - Act Now! GlaxoSmithKline RFP  

Don't miss out on this innovative funding opportunity

The FFMI team is excited to announce that, once again, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is inviting U-M investigators to submit proposals for funding by the company's Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc).
Funded DPAc projects will operate as a joint team, with GSK and U-M investigators working toward shared goals and with open sharing of information and data. GSK is looking for projects with a specific and testable drug development hypothesis that, if successful, would deliver therapeutic benefit to patients.
Proposals can be in any disease area and based on any treatment modality, be it small molecule or biopharmaceutical. GSK will undertake projects starting from early screening to late lead optimization, and the company is open to a wide range of possibilities that have progressed beyond the exploratory and technology platform stages.
Investigators are invited to submit their one-page, non-confidential proposal via UMMS Competition Space for competitive consideration by the GSK DPAc leadership team.
More details can be found at the RFP webpage or questions can be directed to Casey Wegner of the FFMI Business Development team.

MTRAC Year Three Update  

28 new proposals and 18 Kickstart projects funded  

The U-M Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences (MTRAC) program received 28 proposals this year, 10 of which are Kickstart funded.

Projects range from a novel pharmaceutical therapeutic for influenza and other viral infections to an electronic support tool for caregivers of dementia patients. Once semifinalists are selected, those project teams will spend the next few months preparing their "pitches" for presentation to the MTRAC oversight committee in January.

Kickstart, MTRAC's "early-early stage" program has funded 18 projects in fiscal year 2015.

The MTRAC teams are advancing through their milestones, and a number of them are enrolled in the Early Tech Development Course through FFMI's Commercialization Education Program.

"Project teams are progressing nicely," noted Brad Martin, Ph.D., FFMI Commercialization Program Director. "Multiple companies have formed, and a few licenses are in the works, with at least one option to a large industry partner currently in place."

Questions about MTRAC? Contact Brad Martin at

Celebrate Invention 2015  

U-M applauds record-breaking year at annual Tech Transfer event 

FFMI Kickstart awardee Cagri Besirli shows his ocular anesthesia technology at Celebrate Invention
The U-M Office of Technology Transfer recently hosted its annual "Celebrate Invention" reception. Remarks by Ken Nisbet, Associate VP Tech Transfer, and S. Jack Hu, Interim Vice President for Research, kicked off the event as attendees mingled with old and new friends from the University and from our industry, venture, and community partners.

Guests had the opportunity to see some of the exciting discoveries, products, and new ventures from across campus and celebrate the over 1,100 U-M researchers who contributed through their participation in invention, patenting, and licensing activities. U-M Medical School had 166 new inventions in FY15, up from 133 the previous year.
The group gathered in the Michigan League Ballroom to learn more about our latest innovative projects, including these from U-M Medical School:
  • Direct Brain Interface Lab (UMDBI): Motor-Free Access Platform from Jane Huggins, Ph.D., Seth Warschausky, Ph.D., and Ramses Alcaide
  • Cryoanesthesia from Cagri G. Besirli, M.D., Ph,D., Stephen Smith, Ph.D., Kevin Pipe, Ph.D., and Gun-ho Kim
  • Menin-MLL Inhibitors as a Therapy for Leukemia from Jolanta Grembecka, Ph.D., Tomasz Cierpicki, Ph.D., Dmitry Borkin, Hongzhi Miao, Jonathan Pollock, Duxin Sun, Ph.D., Katarzyna Kempinska, Trupta Purohit, Szymon Klossowski, Ting Zhao, Miao He, Bo Wen, Ph.D., Jay Hess, M.D., Ph,D., M.H.S.A., and Andrew Muntean, Ph.D.

Learn, Connect, and Create at
We #MakeHealth Fest 2015    

2nd annual event inspires health innovation 

FFMI is excited to be a sponsor for the 2nd annual We #MakeHealth Fest. This collaborative event brings together a diverse group of individuals - from patients, to caregivers, to healthcare providers - in order to focus on participatory design, innovation, and the creation of a Maker Movement for health.

Sunday, October 25, 2015
Palmer Commons

CLICK HERE for more information. 

James A. Shayman Wins Dean's Innnovation and Commercialization Award 

New award recognizes its first recipient 

The results of the Dean's Awards are in, and the winner of the first Innovation and Commercialization Award is James A. Shayman, M.D., Agnes C. and Frank D. McKay Professor of Pharmacology and Internal Medicine!

This award recognizes a faculty member or group of faculty members who have developed a new research method, technology, or innovative service that will radically improve or transform patient health. Congratulations, Dr. Shayman! 

Reuter's Names U-M #5 Most Innovative University in the World 

Reuters recently ranked U-M at #5 in the Reuters Top 100 World's Most Innovative Universities! This prestigious list focuses on the institutions that most reliably produce original research, create useful technology, and have the greatest economic impact. The criteria focused on academic papers and patent filings.  


CLICK HERE to read the full article.   

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.