April 2016

BioArbor - Founder/Leadership Transition: When and How Do You Step Away?

Wednesday, April 20
Ann Arbor SPARK
330 E. Liberty St.
Lower Level
Ann Arbor, MI
CLICK HERE for more information and to register

Biomedical Innovations for Developing Markets 

Thursday, April 21


Taubman Health Sciences Library, Rm. 5000

Lunch included!

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


Kickstart Application Workshop

Part 1 - Tuesday, June 7 


Part 2 - Tuesday, June 14


Taubman Health Sciences Library, Rm. 5000    

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

Clinical trial could expand number of United States heart donors

3-D skull replica aids doctors with rare tumor removal

Eraser drug makes stem cells embryonic again

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

Innovate Blue

U-M Main Page



Kickoff! New Therapeutic Innovation Fund 

Michigan Center for Therapeutic Innovation and FFMI to offer five-year, $2.5M fund 

The MCTI Therapeutic Innovation Fund is a five-year, $2.5M fund created to accelerate the discovery and translation of therapeutic candidates at the University of Michigan.
The fund will support the discovery and optimization of small molecule lead compounds for projects with specific, novel, and testable drug discovery hypothesis. Selected projects will receive funding and resources from MCTI in the areas of: assay development, drug design, cell biology, medicinal chemistry, structural biology, and pharmacology (up to $100K in value for each award for one to two years). The fund will be jointly administered by MCTI and FFMI. MCTI was recently launched to accelerate the discovery and translation of new small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of human disorder through innovation and scientific collaboration at the University of Michigan.
An advisory committee of recognized drug discovery and development experts will review and select projects for funding. MCTI and FFMI will partner to assign funded teams with experienced mentors to guide each individual project. Applications are encouraged from investigators from across the University of Michigan.
Interested faculty are invited to attend the Therapeutic Innovation Fund Kickoff Event on Friday, April 22, from 9:00am - 12:00pm in Room 5000 of the Taubman Health Sciences Library.
A Request for Proposals is coming soon.
Questions? Contact Dr. Ester Fernández-Salas, MCTI Managing Director, at or (734) 998-8301, or Casey Wegner, Senior Business Analyst, at or (734) 764-2695.  

RFA for Innovation Faculty Champions  

Applications due Friday, May 6

Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI) at the U-M Medical School has announced a Request for Applications (RFA) for the program's Faculty Champions.

The Faculty Champions represent FFMI's four vertical market areas of devices, diagnostics, healthcare IT, and therapeutics, and collaborate closely with other faculty and leadership to create strategies for driving innovation and commercialization across campus and beyond.
Each Champion will be supported at 10 percent of his/her base academic salary by the Medical School Dean's Office in exchange for 10 percent effort to this position, with a two-year term beginning on July 1, 2016.
Interested faculty should CLICK HERE for more details and the RFA. Applications are due by 5:00 PM on Friday, May 6.   
Questions? Contact Connie Chang, FFMI Managing Director, at  

May 18 FFMI Biomedical Innovation Cup 

Shark Tank-style competition highlights MTRAC-funded research 

Join Fast Forward Medical Innovation as a select group of MTRAC teams pitch their innovations to the "sharks" of the investment world, at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium.
Wednesday, May 18
2:00pm - 4:30pm  
Auditorium 2
Marriott Eagle Crest 
1275 South Huron Street
CLICK HERE to RSVP for this FREE event
The path to market for a new biomedical product is challenging. It's not enough to have a deep knowledge of the science. Innovators must be ready to step into the spotlight, showing stakeholders and potential investors clarity of vision and passion.
Hosted by Ken Nisbet, U-M Associate Vice President for Research Technology Transfer, this annual event helps prepare project teams for launch to market. Each team will have 10 minutes to make their case to biomedical investment experts who will then decide which project is the most commercially viable and award the winning team $2,500.
This year's pitches...

BUDDY Button
adjustable gastric feeding tube for children
James Geiger, M.D.

device offers rapid anesthesia during eye injections
Cagri Besirli, M.D., Ph.D.

MiCancer Ally
mobile app for improved cancer management
Michael Sabel, M.D.

device for rapid measurement of immune response in pediatric patients
Timothy Cornell, M.D.

vaccine to prevent and treat multiple viral infections
David Markovitz, M.D.

And our judges...

Dan Estes
Frazier Healthcare Partners

Parag Rathi
River Cities Capital Funds

Jeff Rinvelt
Renaissance Venture Capital Fund

Karen Spilizewski
RiverVest Venture Partners

New Device Measures Sepsis Risk in Near-Real Time 

Device helps doctors identify high-risk patients with sepsis and develop targeted therapies for those patients 

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. In the United States, close to 1,000,000 people suffer from sepsis annually, resulting in over 250,000 deaths and over $20 billion in health care expenses. Worldwide, it is the leading cause of death in children.
Current guidelines for treating sepsis are focused on physiologic goals and are not based on individual patient characteristics or infectious sources. The effectiveness of this method is under scrutiny and offers a strong argument to change the "one-size-fits-all" approach and move to a precision therapeutic approach.
Precise treatment strategies for sepsis require clinicians to identify those patients at highest risk of death, then to be able to rapidly measure therapeutic targets, such as serum cytokines (small inflammatory proteins), to guide therapy and determine the effectiveness of the therapy. However, no FDA-approved devices exist that allow rapid, sensitive, and small volume serum cytokine measurements, so they are currently not performed.
A team of engineers and clinicians at the University of Michigan, including Pediatric Intensivist Timothy Cornell, M.D., and engineers Katsuo Kurabayashi, Ph.D., Pengyu Chen, Ph.D., and Walker McHugh, has developed the MicroKine Assay Device, a platform that utilizes a microfluidic chip and Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance (LSPR) technology to rapidly and simultaneously measure multiple serum cytokine concentrations in a small sample of blood.  
"Successful treatment strategies need to be precise and focused on restoring the immune balance, not eliminating the natural process necessary for getting rid of infection," say Dr. Cornell. "Right now, we are focusing our research on pediatric sepsis  since nearly 9% of all pediatric patients in an intensive care unit have sepsis, with a 25% risk of death prior to hospital discharge."
Dr. Cornell's next step is to design and develop an automated reader for the MicroKine Assay Device. The goal is to produce a reader that can automate the process of using the MicroKine assay to rapidly detect serum cytokines in less than 30 minutes. Currently, all cytokines are determined by outside reference laboratories with 3-5 day turnaround times.
"MTRAC funding is helping us complete the automated reader and begin the validation process at two clinical sites," says Dr. Cornell. "The support and guidance we've received are extremely beneficial as we look to initiate the necessary steps for FDA approval."
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 MicroKine Assay Device Reader project is just one of 12 projects in the 2016 cohort funded by MTRAC. In 2014, the program funded 11 teams for early commercialization development, and 11 teams were funded in 2015.

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 - Dr. Katie Fitzgerald, M.D., is working on automated brain "read-outs" for diagnosing anxiety and depression in preschoolers.  
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.

U-M Names 2016 Distinguished University Innovator Award Winner

UMMS faculty member James A. Shayman, M.D., to be honored at May 9 ceremony 

Dr. James A. Shayman, developer of a new class of drugs for treating a group of rare but devastating congenital disorders, has been selected to receive the U-M's Distinguished University Innovator Award for 2016.


Dr Shayman is the Agnes C. and Frank D. McKay Professor of Internal Medicine and professor of pharmacology at the Medical School. He is being honored for his innovative work that has led to a simpler and more effective approach to treating lysosomal storage diseases, a group of 50 related genetic disorders. In these diseases, cells and body tissues are damaged by fatty substances that build up to toxic levels in lysosomes, structures within cells that process cellular waste.


Established in 2007 by the U-M Office of Research, the Distinguished University Innovator Award honors faculty who have made important and lasting contributions to society by developing novel ideas and insights through their research, and then translating them into practice.  


This year's public award ceremony will take place at 4:00pm on Monday May 9, in Forum Hall at Palmer Commons. After receiving the award, Dr. Shayman will deliver a lecture titles "Why I Study Rare Diseases," which will be followed by a reception.


Learn more about Dr. Shayman's innovative research here.  


Important MCubed Announcements

New developments with MCubed 2.0 funding opportunities 

MCubed 2.0 is the second cycle of MCubed, the University of Michigan's one-of-a-kind funding program designed to spark innovative research without traditional peer review.

Time to request your cube!
Faculty project owners (the person who posted the project concept and invited the other two faculty project collaborators to join) can now officially seek a cube, either $60K (classic cube) or $15K (mini cube).

To request a cube, go to the MCubed website by Thursday, April 21, at 11:00am. A semi-random lottery system will be used to distribute the cubes.

CLICK HERE to learn more about MCubed 2.0, including any financial contribution that your unit may require.

Cube incentive programs
Want to secure some additional funds, work space, or staff  support for your cube? Learn about the perks that several campus units are offering to cubes whose work aligns with their missions. Your cube may qualify!

Deadline Extension for all MCubed 2.0 Cubes
MCubed is pleased to announce that the funding period for all cubes has been extended to December 31, 2017.  

Welcome to U-M Dearborn Faculty
U-M Dearborn faculty are now in the MCubed system, and are able to form teams and request cubes. CLICK HERE to read more about U-M Dearborn's participation.  

Collaboration Opportunity with Ford  

RFP for In-Vehicle Health Research 

Ford Motor Company, as part of its research alliance with U-M, has an open call for proposals. Ford is open to any idea that could be beneficial to both Ford and U-M, including in-vehicle health and wellness and the user experience.


The research alliance includes overhead-bearing (indirect cost) research projects for up to two years and up to $100,000 per year from Ford. Projects are co-developed with a Ford Principal Investigator (PI), provide pre-negotiated intellectual property rights, and have a 25-40 percent win rate.


First draft proposals are due by Wednesday, June 8, with final proposals due Monday, August 15. Tentative approval will be communicated by December, with payment disbursed in the first quarter 2017.


To identify a Ford PI in your area of research, please contact Susan Shields in the U-M Business Engagement Center at (734) 615-3533 or


Two Biomedical/Business Student Teams at Rice Business Plan Competition 

Chosen from nearly 400 entrants, two University of Michigan student teams, Neurable and PreDxion Bio, will compete with some of the world's top universities for more than $1 million in prizes at the 16th annual Rice Business Plan Competition, April 14-16.

This year, teams will compete for an additional $5,000 online in the People's Choice Competition that challenges the spirit of each university. Team members, fellow students, alumni, family, and friends can vote for their favorite team via a Facebook survey. Vote for PreDxion or Neurable and make Michigan #1! Follow @ZellLurie and #rbpc on Twitter for updates throughout the competition.   
FFMI Hosting Commercialization Workshop at the American Urological Association's Annual Meeting
Educational event teaches strategies and tactics that nurture entrepreneurship
Fast Forward Medical Innovation is hosting a commercialization workshop during the Engineering & Urology Society meeting at the American Urological Association's annual meeting in San Diego.
Saturday, May 7
Marina Ballroom D & E
Marriott Marquis San Diego
Dr. William Roberts, M.D., U-M Professor of Urology and Biomedical Engineering, and FFMI team members will present Idea to Clinical Impact Workshop: The Medical Device Development Process at the University of Michigan. This condensed, highly interactive and collaborative session is designed to help determine if an idea is ready to head down the path to market. Attendees will work on customer discovery, developing a business model, creating a pitch, and more.
Participants will get hands-on practice creating their own "Value Proposition Canvas" with the guidance of FFMI commercialization experts, and walk away with a clearer understanding of the biomedical commercialization process and the resources available to take the next steps. CLICK HERE to learn more and register for this 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.