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MU celebrates $5 million partnership for advancing biomedical discoveries

From a tool for treating burn victims to a technique for detecting neurodevelopmental disorders, new products and services for patients are now being developed with support from the University of Missouri's Coulter Translational Partnership Program. Today, the program announced that it is awarding funding to five teams of physicians and engineers who are working together to improve health care.

The new funding is provided by a $5 million partnership between MU and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. The partnership establishes MU as one of 15 academic institutions in the country and the only university in Missouri selected to establish a Coulter Translational Partnership Program.

"MU and the Coulter Foundation share a common goal of turning discoveries made in laboratories into new products and services for patients," said MU Chancellor Brady Deaton. "Our investment in translational research involving physicians and engineers at MU builds on the university's substantial resources for advancing biomedical innovation."

MU's Coulter program is awarding funding to five projects that are using biomedical engineering solutions to meet the needs of patients. The projects selected in 2012 involve a total of 10 co-investigators from MU's School of Medicine and College of Engineering. Over the next four years, additional projects will be selected for funding.

"MU is home to a wealth of translational research opportunities waiting to be further developed," said Jinglu Tan, Coulter program principal investigator and James C. Dowell Professor and Chair of Biological Engineering at MU. "Each of the Coulter projects selected for funding demonstrated exceptional scientific merit and potential to meet a well-defined, unmet clinical need."

The five newly funded Coulter projects involve developing better methods for identifying and treating patients with lung cancer, colorectal cancer and other forms of the disease; creating superior grafts for anterior crucial ligament reconstruction surgeries; devising a more accurate way to measure the severity of burn injuries; and inventing a device for earlier detection of neurodevelopmental disorders in infants and toddlers. The projects include collaborations between biological engineers and physicians who specialize in pediatrics, trauma surgery, orthopaedic surgery and pathology.

"Wallace H. Coulter was an engineer, inventor, entrepreneur and visionary who would be pleased by the quality of the translational research occurring at the University of Missouri," said Michael Gara, a Coulter Foundation director. "We look forward to working with MU to further enhance the capacity and pace of biomedical innovation."

In addition to funding, the Coulter program supports scientists by connecting them with research and development experts from private industry and academia. Coulter scientists receive real-world advice on intellectual property protection, regulatory issues and market opportunities. They also engage with potential partners for financing and product development.

"MU's Coulter Translational Partnership Program is designed to help research become attractive for investment and ultimately commercialization," said program director Jake Halliday. "The awards we announced today are designed to bridge the funding gap for promising research projects that have excellent market potential but require more investment to advance through the translational process."

The Coulter program expands on the University of Missouri's many existing resources for translational research. MU is one of the few universities in the nation with schools and colleges of medicine, engineering, nursing, health professions, veterinary medicine, agriculture and business, as well as a nuclear research reactor and comprehensive academic medical center on the same campus. MU's Biodesign and Innovation Program has helped patent new medical technologies by creating teams of students in medicine, engineering and business, and MU's Department of Biological Engineering is a collaboration between the university's engineering college and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Mizzou Advantage and its One Health, One Medicine initiative, as well as the MU Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, also invest in turning discoveries into new methods for treating, preventing and managing disease. Several scientists conducting translational research are located in MU's Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center.

Contact: Laura Gerding
University of Missouri School of Medicine

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