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MU program honors six biomedical research projects

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 | 4:55 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Six biomedical research projects were recognized for their work with the MU Coulter Translational Partnership Program on Wednesday, a collaboration that has netted those projects close to $600,000 in grants, according to a press release from the MU News Bureau.

The projects were recognized at a ceremony in the Mark Twain Ballroom by Brady Deaton, MU chancellor, along with members of the MU faculty and representatives from the Coulter program. Four projects have been awarded funding for the coming year, and two projects that received funding last year are continuing their work with the Coulter program, directer Rebecca Rone said.

The money the research teams received transitions their work from the research stage to a form more useful for the public. Coulter funding serves as a bridge in a technology's entrance into the marketplace, where it can later be used by mainstream health services.

"It's been shown that the Coulter process has a large impact in the success of moving technology across this transitional gap," Rone said. "Whenever they receive the Coulter award, they receive more than money. They receive assistance in concerns that you would have in the medical device arena."

Robert Duncan, MU's vice chancellor for research, talked about the collaboration between the School of Medicine and the College of Engineering.

"We can prepare discoveries for the next step in the innovation process, when industry can invest in them to create new technologies to save and improve the lives of patients," he said.

The four new projects awarded funding are:

  • Sherif El-Gizawy of the College of Engineering and Raja Gopaldas of the School of Medicine are a creating a surgical device that lowers the risk of stroke during a minimally-invasive aortic valve replacement.
  • James Stannard of the School of Medicine and Ferris Pfeiffer of the Department of Bioengineering are working to improve the success rates of cartilage transplants in patients with certain types of diseased joints.
  • Matthew Smith of the School of Medicine and Ferris Pfeiffer of the Department of Bioengineering are working on a project to repair rotator cuff shoulder injuries with minimally-invasive surgery through the transplant of tendon tissue and replacement bone.
  • John Pardalos of the School of Medicine and Shramik Sengupta of the Department of Bioengineering are developing a faster way to diagnose and treat infection through blood tests.

The two continuing projects are:

  • Sheila Grant of the Department of Bioengineering and Richard White of the School of Medicine are working to improve the success of anterior cruciate ligament, more commonly called ACL, reconstruction surgeries. Grant and White were awarded funding in 2012 and are continuing their work but have not received additional funding, Rone said.
  • Raghuraman Kannan of the Department of Bioengineering and Gerald Arthur of the School of Medicine are using nanotechnology to detect if certain cancers can be treated with therapies that would target certain tumors. Kannan and Arthur were also awarded funding in 2012 and are continuing their work but have not received additional funding, Rone said.

Gopaldas said he thinks the award will have tremendous impact on the work he and El-Gizawy are doing.

"Coulter has positioned our university in a unique way, because now we know that as long as we demonstrate a good idea with a solid pile of data, we have a good chance of getting the money to help us translate to the next phase," Gopaldas said. "Coulter has eliminated (the funding) headache so that we can actually get to work and focus on the science and engineering rather than trying to get money."


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