May 2016

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 

Artificial placenta holds promise for extremely premature infants

New rat study shows specific genetic factors may contribute to differences in addiction among humans

Detecting when the most common skin cancer turns dangerous

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Monroe-Brown Seed Fund Launched to Accelerate Engineering, Medical Translational Research Projects  

New fund encourages partnerships between U-M engineering and medical schools 

The University of Michigan has launched the Monroe-Brown Seed fund, a new funding vehicle designed to advance the process of transitioning commercially viable engineering and medical research projects to market.  

With a $3 million gift from the Monroe-Brown Foundation, the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund will award seed money to biomedical startup companies that are joint efforts between the university's engineering and medical schools. Such seed grants are designed to accelerate the commercialization of biomedical research, to provide unique educational opportunities for researchers and students, and, ultimately, to positively impact patient care. 

The fund will supply resources for the university's biomedical startup companies with marketplace potential.

"With this generous gift from the Monroe-Brown Foundation, shepherded by foundation president and U-M engineering alum Robert Brown, we can expand the impact of innovations birthed from the College of Engineering's historic partnership with the Medical School," said David Munson, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. "The fund will give our school additional ways to apply our faculty and students' illustrious research to solving society's complex problems in health care."     

"We are thrilled for the support and the commitment of the Monroe-Brown Foundation to medical innovation," said Dr. Marschall Runge, U-M's Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Medical School. "The new fund will help us attract and retain world-class researchers as well as biomedical entrepreneurs."

The Monroe-Brown Seed fund will invest in startup companies such as those developing medical devices, diagnostics, therapeutic delivery systems, health IT, and digital health products. It will be run by program manager Hirak Parikh, a biomedical engineer. Parikh's previous research and professional positions focus on neuroscience applications and products.   

Parikh has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and master's degrees in electrical engineering systems and biomedical engineering from U-M. He also has an undergraduate degree in electronics and telecommunications from the University of Pune in India.

About the Monroe-Brown Foundation
The Monroe-Brown Foundation is dedicated to promoting an environment where scholars and students can positively contribute to economic growth and workforce development in Michigan. Robert Brown, president of the foundation, has spent 45 years working with more than 40 venture capital investments in the areas of banking, manufacturing and real estate. Based in Portage, Mich., he graduated from U-M with a bachelor's in engineering and spearheaded this partnership with the university.

RFP for Therapeutic Innovation Fund  

Proposals due Friday, June 17   

The Michigan Center for Therapeutic Innovation (MCTI) and FFMI offer a five-year, $2.5 million fund created to accelerate the discovery and translation of therapeutic candidates at the University of Michigan.

Request for Proposals! 
Submission Deadline: Friday, June 17, 2016 at 5:00pm
Eligibility: Open to investigators across the University of Michigan

The fund supports the discovery and optimization of small molecule lead compounds for projects with a specific, novel, and testable drug discovery hypothesis. Selected projects receive funding and resources from MCTI in the areas of drug design, cell biology, medicinal chemistry, structural biology, and pharmacology (up to $100,000 in value for each award for one to two years). The fund is jointly administered by MCTI and FFMI.

An advisory committee of recognized drug discovery and development experts will review and select projects for funding, and MCTI and FFMI will partner to assign funded teams with experienced mentors to guide each individual project.
Schedule your pre-submission meeting today!
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 Healthcare IT Faculty Champion Extended 

Applications due Friday, May 27  

FFMI has extended the deadline for the Request for Applications in our search for a healthcare IT Faculty Champion. The healthcare IT 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. The new, extended deadline for these applications is 5:00pm on Friday, May 27.

Questions? Contact Connie Change, FFMI Managing Director, at

Fast Forward GI Innovation Fund Winners

Four winners to receive funding  

FFMI recently announced the winners of the Fast Forward GI Innovation Fund, which targets discovery and development of future technologies to help patients suffering from gastrointestinal disease.  
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.   
GI Fund Winners
Tier I Awards - $25-$50K funding projects that address a discrete milestone that is critical to the advancement of research to the point of product development

Spray Cap for Chromoendoscopy  
Antifibrotic Therapy for Crohn's Disease

A New Technology for Single Molecule Counting of Stool Mutant DNA Biomarkers for Colorectal Cancer

Tier II Awards - $75-$100K funding projects with specific milestones for proof-of-concept and later-stage translational studies

Meredith Barrett, M.D., Jonathan Luntz, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Ronald Hirschl, M.D.
Michigan ENdoluminal Distraction (MEND) Device: A Minimally Invasive Cure for Short Bowel Syndrome

Congratulations to all the winners! 

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.

Cryo-Anesthesia Device
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.

medication 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 

Device Provides Rapid Anesthesia for Eye Injections 

New device delivers rapid, effective anesthesia to the surface of the eye, improving patient comfort and physician efficiency 

Intravitreal Injection Therapy (IVT - giving a shot of medicine into the eye) has transformed the treatment landscape of a number of previously blinding diseases, including macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. This success has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of ocular injections given every year.
The drawbacks to IVT are patient discomfort, ocular surface bleeding, and the amount of time it takes to treat the high volume of patients requiring this therapy. All of these challenges are related to the difficulty of delivering ocular anesthesia to the highly vascularized ocular surface.
Currently, the most common anesthesia methods are to either apply cotton-tipped applicators soaked in lidocaine or to give a subconjunctival lidocaine injection. Both of these methods require a minimum of 6-10 minutes for the anesthetic to fully take effect. A final option is to use anesthetic eye drops, which is more time efficient, but results in significant patient discomfort.
University of Michigan Medical School team, Cagri G. Besirli, M.D., Ph.D., and Stephen J. Smith, M.D., has worked closely with Kevin P. Pipe, Ph.D., and Gun-Ho Kim, Ph.D., from the U-M Department of Mechanical Engineering to design the Cryo-Anesthesia Device. This device delivers ultra-rapid ocular anesthesia and vasoconstriction (blood vessel constriction) by flash cooling the surface of the eye at the injection site.
"Our goal is to improve patient comfort, reduce side effects, and increase physician efficiency during IVT delivery," says Dr. Besirli. "Presently, it takes between 6-10 minutes to anesthetize a patient and give IVT. This device provides anesthesia in 30-45 seconds, reducing the overall IVT time to 3 minutes or less."
The Cryo-Anesthesia Device is a handheld instrument that utilizes thermoelectric cooling to provide rapid, precisely controlled cooling to the eye's surface. The device includes a temperature regulating feedback loop to maintain highly accurate temperature control, a timed lockout mechanism to prevent excessive cooling, and proprietary, single-use sterile tips to prevent infection. The sterile tips also contain two markers that leave temporary indentation on the ocular surface, guiding IVT needle placement to ensure patient safety.
"MTRAC funding and business development guidance have been extremely helpful as we optimize our device, gather information needed for FDA approval, and work to form our start-up company," says Dr. Smith. "The support from MTRAC will enable us to finalize commercial manufacturability parameters for the device, solidify our position to secure series A funding, and significantly accelerate product launch."
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 Cryo-Anesthesia Device 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.

Introducing A New FFMI Team Member

Please join us in welcoming Hirak Parikh to the FFMI team!

Hirak is the Program Manager for the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund, a collaboration between FFMI and the College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship. This new fund makes seed-level equity investments in start-ups at the University of Michigan, bringing novel, commercially viable biomedical and healthcare technologies to the market. This fund is primarily for university startups that have graduated from programs such as MTRAC, Coulter, and I-Corps that need bridge funding before subsequent angel or Venture Capital rounds. Hirak facilitates the selection process, manages a board of expert industry and investment mentors, and supports projects and teams to reach important commercialization milestones.

Hirak has spent the last 14 years working in academic research or with early-stage companies and start-ups. He was Principal Scientist for The Neuromarketing Labs in charge of U.S. operations. He continues to serve on the Board of the company. Previously, Hirak worked as Project Development Group Leader at Neuronexus Technologies.

Hirak received his P.hD. in Biomedical Engineering and an M.S.E. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan

Cheers to the Latest Kickstart Awardees

Award for developing early proof of concept 

FFMI recently announced the latest awardees 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), the William Davidson Foundation, and the Michigan Institute for Clinical Health & Research, 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 teams are:
Miniaturized Hemoretractometer (mHRM)  
Dynamic Arterial Morphology Analysis for Prediction of Intradialytic Hypotension

Kalman Filter Evaluation Tool - monitoring patients with glaucoma using a novel personalized forecasting tool   
Chiroplasmonic Nanorod-PCR (NR-PCR) for rapid bacterial identification and antibiotic resistance testing in sepsis
New Leads for Promyelocytic Leukemia

2016 SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Application  

Applications due Friday, June 3 

The U.S. Small Business Administration is thrilled to announce a third round of the Growth Accelerator Fund competition. In 2016, the SBA will again be awarding $50,000 prizes to the winners of the contest.  


New this year, the SBA is partnering with several U.S. agencies (NIH, NSF, DoED, USDA) to provide additional prizes to accelerators that assist entrepreneurs in submitting SBIR/STTR proposals.


CLICK HERE to read the full article. 


The application deadline is Friday, June 3.  


The Learning Health Small Grants Program

The Department of Learning Health Sciences and the University of Michigan Office of Research are pleased to announce The Learning Health System Small Grants Program. This pilot grant program is being launched to accelerate the systems, methods, and technologies that support the science underlying the development of a ubiquitous global Learning Health System (LHS).
Interested investigators are invited to submit a one-page Project Description of their idea. No budget is required yet, and Project Descriptions will be accepted through Friday, June 3, 2016. A small number of the ideas submitted will be selected for further development and investigators can generate a proposal for up to $100,000 to carry out the project. CLICK HERE for more information. 

Made at Michigan Annual Report Launches 

Publication highlights U-M student ventures 

Made at Michigan is U-M's first-ever annual report highlighting student innovation and entrepreneurship campus-wide. The magazine-style publication highlights more than 80 student ventures over a broad variety of disciplines. An online version is sortable by school, college, and type of venture. For a print version, contact Innovate Blue.

CLICK HERE to learn more.   

Metabolic Test Kitchen Available for Your Next Project 

Are you designing a research study involving dietary, physical activity/exercise, body composition, and/or metabolic measurements or interventions in human subjects?

The Michigan Nutrition Obesity Research Center (MNORC)'s Human Phenotyping Core (HPC) provides the following services:  
  • Consultation services to investigators. The HPC has the expertise to help you optimize the design of your study.
  • Standardized and sophisticated assessment and physiological testing of human subjects. The HPC has the equipment and the expertise to implement a wide array of nutritional assessments and physiological/metabolic tests for your research studies.
  • Services to directly assist researchers with conducting their nutritional and/or exercise interventions in human subjects.

Not sure how these services may apply to your study?
Recently, the HPC metabolic test kitchen began prepping for an intensive feeding study looking at the effects of a high-fat vs. high-carbohydrate diet on responses of the metabolome.

With dietitians and technicians on staff, we are able to design five-day rotating menus for both study conditions that are calorie controlled to the study participant to prevent changes in weight.
In addition, we procure and prepare the food for pickup using standardized weighing and menu development techniques.

For more information, including a complete list of services, please visit the MNORC website or email the Core.   

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.