February 2016

Marcia Hatch: Getting Ahead of the Challenges Your Start-Up Will Face 

Thursday, March 17


Taubman Health Sciences Library, Room 5000

CLICK HERE for more details and to register for this FREE FFMI session (lunch is included) 

Technologies enhance tumor surgery

U-M researcher Max Wicha gets $6.5 million grant for cancer stem cell research

New clues to common and elusive KRAS cancer gene

U-M Medical School

UMMS Office of Research

Medicine at Michigan

U-M Business Engagement Center

U-M Center for Entrepreneurship

U-M Tech Transfer

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U-M Main Page



Congratulations 2016 MTRAC for Life Sciences Awardees

12 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 in January. At the meeting, 15 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, 12 were selected for funding:
Principal Investigator
Proposal Title
Cagri Besirli
CryoAnesthesia - Rapid Anesthesia for Intraocular Injections
Bill Chey and James Ashton-Miller
Digital Manometry: A Disposable, Point-of-Service Diagnostic Device for Patients With Fecal Incontinence    
Tim Cornell
Development of a Near-Real Time Microfluidic Assay Device Reader for Identification of Targetable Cytokines in High-Risk Septic Patients
Rodney Daniels
Redox POC Platform for Evaluation and Treatment of Sepsis, Septic Shock, and Multiple Organ Dysfunction
Jim Geiger
BUDDY Button - Low-Profile Gastrostomy Device
Helen Kales
WeCareAdvisor: A Novel Web-Based Tool to Assess and Manage Behavioral Symptoms of Dementia
Tyson Kim
Smartphone-Based Retinal Imaging for Eye Disease Screening
Dan Lawrence
Develop a Preclinical Data Package for a Small Molecule Inhibitor of PAI-1
David Markovitz
Treatment of Influenza With a New Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Agent
Zaneta Nikolovska-Coleska
Development of MCL-1 Inhibitors as a Targeted Therapy to Circumvent Drug Resistance in Human Multiple Myeloma
Dipankar Ray, Mukesh Nyati, and Christopher Whitehead
Therapeutic Targeting of Mutant KRAS
Bruce Richardson
Anti-KIR Antibodies in the Treatment of Lupus

U-M Announces Chronic Kidney Disease Consortium with Leading Pharmaceutical Companies  

Pre-competitive consortium will work to identify new treatment targets for renal disease 

U-M has established the Renal Pre-Competitive Consortium (RPC2) with several pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly and Company. The consortium will develop and use large-scale data exploration to identify new treatment targets for chronic kidney disease.   


The RPC2 is led by U-M nephrologist Matthias Kretzler, M.D., and brings together subject-matter experts and scientific leaders, as well as support from across the industry.  


"We have to find ways to bring new therapies to our patients, faster," Kretzler says. "The RPC2 gives us the opportunity to combine large-scale clinical and molecular data exploration with the development expertise of the pharmaceutical industry."


CLICK HERE to read the full article.  


Cheers to the Latest Kickstart Awardee  

Award for developing early proof of concept  

FFMI recently announced the latest awardee for its Kickstart early-stage fundraising program.

Kickstart Awards, made possible by the U-M Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program (MTRAC), enable Medical School research faculty to develop proof of concept for innovative technologies. This award is aimed to enhance the commercial potential of a technology to the point of translation and possible inclusion in MTRAC or other research funding programs.

The new Kickstart team is Dr. Bogdan Epureanu, M.S., Ph.D. and Dr. Kevin Ward, M.D. They are working on a therapeutic vibration device.  

Calling All Innovators! Sign Up for Our Early Tech Development Course Today  

Register now to take advantage of this valuable educational resource 

Put your novel idea on the path to success by joining FFMI's next Early Tech Development Course, beginning Friday, March 11.  


This 4-week course is designed to give you the knowledge and tools to navigate the initial process of innovation and commercialization.
to learn more and sign up! 


Colorectal Cancer Takes a One-Two Punch with Drug Combination 

Molecule offers dual targeting of EGFR and PIK3 in colorectal cancer patients 

Many patients with colorectal cancer show increased levels of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), a cellular protein that contributes to disease progression. These increased levels occur for one of two reasons: PIK3A mutation and overexpression, or reduced expression of the tumor suppressor factor PTEN. Augmented EGFR signaling can be associated with unchecked cell proliferation, angiogenesis, metastases, and evasion of apoptosis. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of EGFR targeting therapies can be compromised by resistance mechanisms.
A team of University of Michigan researchers led by Judith Leopold, Ph.D. and Christopher Whitehead, Ph.D., is focusing on the link between PIK3A mutations/PTEN loss and resistance to EGFR targeting agents. This resistance can be overcome by inhibiting PIK3A/AKT pathway signaling, which is important in regulating cell survival.
Leopold and Whitehead have designed small molecules that inhibit both EGFR tyrosine and PI3 kinases. The dual inhibitor strategy would reduce side effects and drug interactions, make dosing easier, and simplify the regulatory process.
"Our agents were designed based on the hypothesis that dual targeting of EGFR and PIK3 would be effective in EGFR-positive colorectal cancer patients whose tumors harbor PIK3 mutations or show loss of PTEN expression," says Dr. Leopold. "The potential of the successful combination of these therapies could significantly impact the quality and duration of patient responses to treatment in some of the most difficult and deadly cancers."
"MTRAC funding has enabled us to continue and strengthen our in vivo studies and research," says Dr. Whitehead. "In addition, the guidance and support has been extremely helpful as we work to develop and commercialize our drug candidates."
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 EGFR and PI3K inhibitors 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, and 12 teams will be funded in 2016.

Eli Lilly and Company Visit Focuses on Metabolic Disease Research   

On Thursday, January 28, FFMI helped host a visit from Eli Lilly and Company. Members of the Eli Lilly External Innovation team and Diabetes Drug Hunting team met with U-M investigators studying metabolic disease research.   


The goal of the visit was to identify opportunities for research collaborations and drug discovery partnerships. A post-doc networking dinner was held after the event.  


Fast Foward GI Innovation Fund Off to A Great Start    

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

The Fast Foward Gastrointestinal (GI) Innovation Fund kicked off at the end of 2015, and the submissions came pouring in. The three-year, $500,000+ fund is supported by a donation from entrepreneur alumna Mary Petrovich and matched by the U-M 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.


FFMI received a total of 19 submissions - 15 Tier 1 applications and 4 Tier II applications - that cover an array of prospective GI care innovations. FFMI, the Office of Tech Transfer, and the GI Fund advisory board will review the proposals and award decisions will be made in mid-March. 


Save the Date! HealthDesignBy.Us Design Thinking Bootcamp for Health 

Are you interested in learning more about using human-centered design thinking to develop healthcare solutions for the future? Then register today for the HealthDesignBy.Us Design Thinking Bootcamp for Health.   


Monday, February 22, 2016


North Quad, Room 2435

105 S. State St. 

University of Michigan School of Information 


This workshop is open to the U-M community and the public. CLICK HERE for more information and to register.    


Michigan Bio-Industry Growth Summit Focuses on a Roadmap for Success 

Event brings together Michigan bio-industry leaders to discuss the future 

On Wednesday, February 3, MichBio hosted the Michigan Bio-Industry Growth Summit in Lansing.  


The half-day event featured a number of panels focused on using Michigan's unique assets and strengths to transform the state into a biosciences powerhouse.  


Politicians and bio-industry leaders from Michigan and around the country discussed shaping policy, entrepreneurial success and strategies, business agendas, and industry challenges.


A networking reception followed the event.


Summary of Changes to UMMS Industry-Sponsored Speaking Policy 

The U-M Medical School recently published revisions to its Industry-Sponsored Speaking Policy. CLICK HERE to learn more. 

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.