June 2016
Surgery Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development Program
Friday, June 17
Taubman Health Sciences Library, Room 5000

Researchers identify promising new compound for targeting triple-negative breast cancer

Combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy might be effective opposite ovarian cancer

Diet-based therapy may improve quality of life in IBS patients

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Biomedical Innovation Cup 2016 

Cryoanesthesia device takes the top prize at the second annual Biomedical Innovation Cup  

On May 18, the Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI) team hosted the University of Michigan's second annual Biomedical Innovation Cup at the Ypsilanti Marriott.

Held in conjunction with the Business School's  Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, the "shark tank" style event provided an opportunity for five University of Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization for Life Sciences Program (MTRAC) teams to pitch their projects to "sharks" from the investment world. Guests included Steve Kunkel, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for Research, and event host Ken Nisbet, M.B.A., B.S.M.E., Associate Vice President for Research, Technology Transfer.
The Biomedical Innovation Cup was the culminating event of a year in commercialization education for MTRAC teams, helping prepare them to seek real-world investors for their potential biomedical projects. The panel of judges included: Dan Estes (Frazier Healthcare Partners), Parag Rathi (River Cities Capital Funds), Jeff Rinvelt (Renaissance Venture Capital Fund), and Karen Spilizewski (RiverVest Venture Partners).
It was a tight race, with two teams running neck and neck up to the very end, but the Cryoanesthesia device for rapid anesthesia during eye injections came out on top. The team, Cagri Besirli, M.D., Ph.D., Stephen Smith, M.D., Kevin P. Pipe, Ph.D., and Gun-Ho Kim, Ph.D., was awarded the prestigious Biomedical Innovation Cup and $2,500 in discretionary funds that can be used to further prepare the cryoanesthesia device for market.
"We're thrilled to take home the 2016 Biomedical Innovation Cup," says Besirli. "This event gave us a chance to showcase our work and get helpful, constructive feedback from actual biomedical investors. And we were able to interact with other MTRAC teams who are also working to commercialize their research."
The other MTRAC project team presenters included: Timothy Cornell, M.D. (PreDxion), David Markovitz, M.D. (Virule), Michael Sabel, M.D. (Cancer Ally), and Jonathon Campbell, M.Eng., (Buddy Button).
"Biomedical Innovation Cup 2016 was a great success," says Brad Martin, Ph.D., U-M MTRAC for Life Sciences Commercialization Program Director. "I think the MTRAC teams really benefited from getting a 'real-life' perspective on their projects and commercialization plans, and this will be a tremendous help to them as they move their research forward."

Congratulations to the New FFMI Faculty Champions

FFMI welcomes faculty leaders to help accelerate innovation and commercialization at U-M 

FFMI is excited to announce our new Faculty Champions! The champions represent FFMI's four vertical market areas of devices, diagnostics, healthcare IT/digital medicine, and therapeutics, and collaborate closely with other faculty and leadership to offer expertise in the advancement and commercialization of medical innovation and technologies.

Health IT/Digital Medicine 







"Faculty Champions have a deep understanding of the regulatory and market challenges in their areas of expertise, as well as the challenges that busy academicians face in making innovation a natural but essential part of their clinical care and research," says Kevin Ward, M.D., Fast Forward Medical Innovation Executive Director. "They'll provide their research colleagues with valuable insights into the 'ins and outs' of driving biomedical commercialization to market, where it can ultimately impact patients."

Congratulations to all our champions - we look forward to working with you! 

Kickstart Application Workshop

Attendees get the inside track on successfully completing a Kickstart application 

On Tuesday, June 7, thirteen project teams attended the first of the 2-part FFMI Kickstart Application Workshop. The workshop began with an overview of how the review panel evaluates the Kickstart Award applications. Then, each project team completed the first two sections (Unmet Need and Solution) under the guidance of FFMI staff.

The second part of the workshop took place on Tuesday, June 14. The project teams received a brief overview of the remaining application sections (Research Plan, Budget, and Team) and FFMI staff helped them work on these areas.

"The Kickstart Application Workshop is a great way to help project teams understand and finesse their applications in order to achieve a successful outcome," says Nick DeHaan, MTRAC for Life Sciences Tech Mining Specialist. "The workshop provides a platform for teams to ask specific questions and get one-on-one feedback and support."  

New Medication Targets Deadly Viruses

Drug engineered from bananas shows promise in fighting viruses 

Worldwide seasonal influenza epidemics occur every year, infecting millions of people and causing up to 500,000 deaths. New influenza strains have the potential to cause pandemic outbreaks, as they jump from birds and other animals to humans, causing widespread concerns.
Current vaccines are not successful against all strains of influenza, and existing drugs can cause significant side effects, don't work well in severely ill patients, and sometimes are completely ineffective due to drug-resistant viruses.
University of Michigan researchers, David Markovitz, M.D., and Steven King, Ph.D., are developing a new medication to prevent and treat viral infections using a protein called banana lectin (BanLec) that "reads" the sugars on the outside of both viruses and cells. Cells use this "sugar code" to communicate, but the code gets hijacked by viruses. Early versions of BanLec drugs targeted these viruses, but also caused unwanted inflammation.
Markovitz and his former graduate student, Michael Swanson, Ph.D., pinpointed the tiny part of the molecule that triggered these side effects and molecularly engineered a new version of BanLec, called H84T BanLec, by slightly changing the gene that acts as the instruction manual for building it. This modified form of BanLec works against the viruses that cause Influenza, SARS, MERS, HIV, Ebola, and Hepatitis C in tissue culture and animal models-without triggering irritation and inflammation.
"What we've done is exciting because there is potential for BanLec to develop into a broad-spectrum antiviral agent, something that is not clinically available to physicians and patients right now," said Markovitz. "But it's also exciting to have created it by engineering a lectin molecule for the first time, by understanding and then targeting the structure."
This groundbreaking work with H84T BanLec, and its interaction with the sugar code of molecules that cover the surface of many viruses and cells, opens doors for more innovations that target cell-surface sugars as new ways to fight disease.
"MTRAC funding enables us to continue studying the clinical and commercial potential of modified BanLec, and helps us move this novel science forward," says Dr. King. "The feedback we've received helped us focus our efforts and improve the project."
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 antiviral agent influenza treatment 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. 

Involved in Animal Care and Use?

Don't delay, complete your required ULAM-60000 training today!  
A new training requirement issued by the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) requires ALL faculty and staff working under an IACUC animal use protocol, regardless of whether or not they directly handle laboratory animals, to complete an online course in MLearning called "ULAM-60000 Orientation for Animal Care & Use Refresher." This course provides an overview of animal research oversight, standards, regulations, institutional policies, and expectations for U-M's animal research community.
The only faculty or staff who will be exempt from taking the course are those who completed "ULAM-10000 Orientation for Animal Care & Use" after May 1, 2015.
Individuals will be notified by email with training DUE as follows:
Principal Investigators (Last Name A - M) July 15, 2016 
Principal Investigators (Last Name N - Z) August 19, 2016 
Staff (Last Name A - I) September 18, 2016 
Staff (Last Name J - R) October 18, 2016 
Staff (Last Name S - Z) November 19, 2016 

You are highly encouraged to complete this training early to avoid a possible non-compliance notification. 
CLICK HERE for additional details, including step-by-step instructions for completing your training. Maintaining a comprehensive education and training program to ensure that all staff are using best practices in animal care and use is a key component to U-M's ongoing commitment to sustained excellence and compassion in animal care. Your diligence in this matter is greatly appreciated.
If you have any questions, please contact the ULAM Training Core at or (734) 763-8039. 

Frankel Cardiovascular Center Co-Sponsoring Healthcare "Hackathon" 

Cardiovascular disease prevention ideas sought; Final registration closes Wednesday, June 22 
Join us for Ann Arbor's first-ever "Healthcare Hackathon," with a specific goal of spurring innovation in disease prevention. Prizes, including "Best Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Solution," will be awarded!  
Informational Happy Hour
(Opening remarks and networking)
Friday, June 24
Downtown Ann Arbor Location (location to be sent to accepted participants, walk-ins not honored)

Saturday, June 25-Sunday, June 26
8:00am (Saturday, 6/25) - 3:00pm (Sunday, 6/26)
4th Floor, Palmer Commons
Final judging starting mid-morning on Sunday
Yes, the hacking can go late into the night, but there's food and coffee to keep you going!

The hackathon is seeking participants at several levels -- especially needed are U-M students, trainees, faculty
members, staff members and alumni in health and engineering/programming/design fields who have an interest in moving things forward on any area of disease prevention. 

If you have a specific, nagging problem, or the thought that "there should be a better way to do X"  to help your patients or your research project, then this is an opportunity to bring it forward, "pitch" it in 30 seconds, and form a cross-functional team with other participants to hack it with you. Even if you don't have an idea, let the keynotes and pitches of others inspire you and bring your skills to the table to make a difference.

The hackathon will use a broad definition of disease prevention products and services, and include ways of improving access to care. This includes health information, education of patients and caregivers, policy and social engineering, personal and surgical hygiene, family planning, wellness, diagnostics, vaccines, and drug adherence.

The event is organized by a local nonprofit, Ann Arbor Health Hacks (A2H2), with the goal of promoting healthcare innovation and the local healthcare startup ecosystem by organizing healthcare hackathons.

CLICK HERE to register.
CLICK HERE if you have questions about the event.

Event coordinators welcome faculty, advanced-practice clinicians, and higher-level trainees as mentors for hackathon teams. Time commitments can vary. Email organizers for details.

Finding Funding for Research and Scholarship Workshop 

Interested in being more organized and efficient about identifying research funding? Join us for the Finding Funding for Research and Scholarship workshop.

Tuesday, June 28


NCRC, Building 16, B001E  


In this workshop, we will explore the Library's most useful databases for identifying grant opportunities: Foundation Directory Online (FDO) and Pivot. We will examine the special features of each database, such as saving a tailored profile and receiving funding alerts in Pivot, and discuss general information that will help you in your grant-seeking endeavors.  


CLICK HERE for more information.   


Save the Date! Protein Folding Diseases Initiative Symposium October 13  

The third annual Protein Folding Diseases Initiative Symposium will take place on Thursday, October 13, 2016, at the Biomedical Science Research Building. More details are coming soon.


CLICK HERE for information on the Protein Folding Diseases Initiative. 

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.