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Innovations awarded by foundation | The Triangle

Innovations awarded by foundation

The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation recently awarded Drexel University $10 million, which the University matched in order to endow the Coulter Translational Research Partnership program to support its development of biomedical innovations, as announced April 26.

According to Drexel’s press release, the now $20 million joint funding will “bring life saving solutions to clinical practice by moving promising biomedical discoveries to commercialization.”

Banu Onaral, H.H. Sun professor and director of the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, stressed the impact this endowment has on the University as a whole.

“The impact of the program on our school and our partner academic units, particularly the College of Medicine has been significant,” Onaral wrote in an email, noting that developing innovations requires interdisciplinary collaboration.

The Coulter Foundation’s translational research partnership operates with “the goal of accelerating the introduction of new technologies into patient care,” according to its website. It frequently endows various universities with grant money to make this possible.

Drexel’s endowment comes after a five-year trial period that ended on April 1.

“Our students, faculty and staff have worked very hard over the last five years to earn this national recognition,” Onaral wrote. “Often referred as the ‘Grand Experiment,’ we worked together with 10 top universities selected out of more than 80 contenders.”

University representatives had to prove that their research was both excellent and sustainable before funding would be considered. Onaral noted that the funding was only awarded to universities that complied with strict criteria in the areas of academia and technology transfer.

“We have tested, validated and institutionalized the processes and positions necessary to commercialize our research outcomes,” Onaral explained.

Working closely with the Office of Technology Commercialization, alumni and Coulter project directors, Dr. Robert Loring and Davood Tashayyod have spearheaded the partnership between the University and the Foundation.

“They have served as our interface to the commercialization, business and investment community as well as our alumni and friends,” Onaral wrote.

Part of the commercialization process necessary for the endowment was adopting the Coulter Process, a development process for innovations. This requires establishing intellectual property, adhering to the Food and Drug Association’s requirements and noting critical milestones, among other things.

Representatives from the Coulter Foundation staff came to Philadelphia for a lab audit Dec. 14, later discussing an endowment agreement with University representatives. By Dec. 16, the BIOMED school staff knew of the upcoming endowment.

Tashayyod explained how the money would be allocated now that the partnership has been finalized.

“As was the case during the five year trial period the same amount of money will continue to be allocated to deserving technologies and proposals by an Oversight Committee of 10 people made up from members of Academia … industry representatives as well as representatives from the financing community,” he said.

“The spirit of the grant is fully consistent with the mandate of the School of Biomedical Engineering and our commitment to work on life saving health solutions with our partners within the University and our region,” Onaral said. “We were meant for it and worked hard for it.”

The partnership has already helped license certain innovations for the University, including a wound monitor to help heal diabetes-associated wounds and a non-invasive, radiation-free, portable breast cancer-screening device.