MEDC, U-M award $1.8M for biomedical research projects


Eight innovative biomedical research projects, designed to address challenges from opioid use disorder to preterm birth, recently received more than $1.8 million from the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization Life Sciences Innovation Hub, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships.

Led by researchers at the University of Michigan, Corewell Health and Wayne State University, the eight projects aim to address significant unmet health-care needs and enhance quality of life.

The MTRAC Life Sciences Innovation Hub is supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and is co-managed by Innovation Partnerships, based in OVPR, and Fast Forward Medical Innovation, based in the Medical School Office of Research.

Since 2014, the hub has provided more than $20 million to support projects led by Michigan-based researchers that range in scope from medical devices and therapeutics to diagnostics and health information technology. Supported projects have yielded more than $180 million in follow-on funding, launched more than 40 startups and created 140 high-tech jobs in Michigan.

“The MTRAC Life Sciences Hub has a proven track record of generating strong positive impact across our state and region,” said Kelly Sexton, associate vice president for research – innovation partnerships and economic impact. “We are incredibly grateful for the continued investment in high-tech biomedical research from the MEDC and the U-M Office of the Vice President for Research.”

MTRAC Life Sciences received 20 competitive proposals this year from institutions statewide, including Corewell Health, Michigan State University, Oakland University, U-M and WSU. Projects were then selected by an oversight committee of experienced technologists, entrepreneurs, industry partners and venture capitalists developing and investing in life sciences technologies.

Applicants and awardees benefit from access to experienced mentors-in-residence, commercialization education programming and feedback from an extended network of professionals.

“The MTRAC Life Sciences Innovation Hub continues to source and fund high-impact biomedical technologies from across the state of Michigan,” said Larry Herriman, the MEDC’s University Technology Program director. “The program has yielded returns to the state through follow-on funding, job creation and technology licensing.”

Funding from the MEDC will support five projects, three of which are from U-M:

  • Eric Shah, associate professor of internal medicine in the Medical School — Rectal expulsion device: A point-of-care test to transform care for chronic constipation.
  • Molly Stout, Morton R. Lazar Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Innovation, and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Medical School — Fully quantitative cervical elastography: Addressing a key unmet need in pregnancy care.
  • John Traynor, Edward F. Domino Research Professor of Pharmacology, professor of pharmacology and of medicinal chemistry in the College of Pharmacy — Allosteric modulators for the treatment of opioid use disorder
  • Maik Hüttemann and Jinsheng Zhang of Wayne State — Product development and human feasibility trial of novel non‐invasive device for effective treatment of tinnitus.
  • Nishaki Mehta of Corewell Health — PressRite: Novel compression device to reduce post-operative hematoma formation and improve wound healing in patients undergoing pacemaker or defibrillator implantation.

“The projects funded by the hub focus on biomedical innovations that have the potential to greatly impact human lives,” said Steven Kunkel, executive vice dean for research at the Medical School and chief scientific officer of Michigan Medicine.

In addition to funding from the MEDC, OVPR and Innovation Partnerships elected to support three additional U-M projects that were reviewed favorably by the oversight committee.

  • Robert Gregg, associate professor of robotics, of electrical engineering and computer science, and of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering — A powered energy-assist ankle orthosis for arthritic ankle deformities.
  • Khalid Malik, director of cyber security and professor of computer science in the College of Innovation and Technology, UM-Flint — Hemorrhagepredictor: A Multimodal, Neuro-symbolic, and Federated AI-based Tool for Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Prediction.
  • Duxin Sun, Charles R. Walgreen Jr. Professor of Pharmacy, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, College of Pharmacy — Dual functional drug overcomes STING resistance by eliminating Bregs for long-term anticancer efficacy in pancreatic cancer.

“These projects are designed to find solutions to some of the greatest challenges impacting healthcare,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and innovation. “This support reflects the University of Michigan’s ongoing commitment to translating research discoveries and innovations to positively impact society.”


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