U-M Coulter Translational Research Partnership Selects Projects for 2015-2016 Funding

Intraocular injections are one of the most frequently performed procedures in ophthalmology today, with over 5 million injections given per year in the offices of retina specialists across the United States. This procedure has transformed the treatment landscape of previously blinding diseases including macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Anesthesia for injections into the eye is predominantly given via either a subconjunctival injection or cotton swabs soaked in anesthetic and held on the eye for 8-10 minutes. These anesthetic procedures are unnerving and uncomfortable for patients. Given the extremely high volume of injections given in the United States, the time to adequate anesthetic effect for these methods leads to significantly increased patient wait times and causes lost time for retina specialists. Drs. Kevin Pipe, Cagri Besirli, and Stephen Smith have designed a portable, battery-operated device that uses rapid, targeted cooling to anesthetize the eye surface prior to ocular injections. This device has the potential to significantly improve patients’ experience while also improving workflow for retina specialists.

This project received funding this spring from the UM Coulter Program. The UM Coulter Program is funded through proceeds of an endowment from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and supports collaborative translational research projects that involve Engineering and Clinical faculty co-investigators. Project funding is geared towards new medical device and biomedical product concept development with the goal of licensing the concept to an industry partner or new company formation with venture capital funding within 1-2 years of Coulter funding.

In addition to funding, project teams selected for the final selection meeting are offered the opportunity to participate in a pre-award training program called C3i that guides teams through the commercial aspects of developing their technology, while receiving formal market assessments, mentoring from Venture Capital investors and leading medical device company business development professionals, and consulting services from regulatory, IP, and reimbursement experts.

Throughout the funding period and beyond, teams also receive high-level of guidance from the Coulter Program Director and Office of Technology Transfer to support new product planning, market opportunity evaluation, patent filing, regulatory strategy planning, and sourcing for follow-on funding or licensing.

For the FY 2016 funding cycle, eighteen proposals were submitted for consideration. After rigorous review by the Coulter Oversight Committee five projects were selected for funding, each between $100,000 and $145,000.

Cynthia Chestek, PhD, Paul Cederna, MD
“Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Devices for Fine Control of Prosthetic Limbs” Third year of funding.

Francis D. Pagani, MD, PhD and Roberto Merlin, Dr. rer. nat.
“A Wireless Approach to Power a Ventricular Assist Device”

Daniel Teitelbaum MD and Jonathan Luntz PhD
“Development of a pre-clinical implantable mechanical device for intestinal lengthening in children with short bowel syndrome”

Timothy Cornell, MD and Katsuo Kurabayashi, PhD
“Application of Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance (LSPR) for the near real-time detection of proteins”

Cagri Besirli MD, PhD, Kevin Pipe, PhD
“Cryoanaesthesia for intravitreal injections”

For more information about the Coulter Translational Research Partnership contact Thomas Marten, Coulter Program Director, at tmarten@umich.edu. Look for the next Coulter Call for Proposals in late fall, 2015.