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USC and Coulter Foundation Partner to Invest $5M in Breakthrough Innovation in Biomedical Engineering

LOS ANGELES, April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Keck School of Medicine of USC, the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, and the Los Angeles Basin Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) have been selected to participate in the exclusive Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program.

Announced April 22  by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the prestigious program awards pioneering institutions that are fostering tomorrow's translational technologies and innovations in biomedical health care. The Coulter Foundation invited the USC Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) to apply based on its number of successful applicants to the Coulter Translational Research Awards. After an arduous application process, only six Departments of BME from across the country were invited to attend the launch of the Program in Las Vegas this past February.  Finally, Coulter selected the USC team to participate in the Program based on its performance at the launch.

"We are very excited to have you as a partner in this challenging but most rewarding endeavor," read the announcement, "as we embark together in the journey of accelerating the translation of biomedical innovations to benefit patient care."

For its operations, the Program will have $1 million each year for a period of five years, with $667,000 a year from the Coulter Foundation augmented by $333,000 of contributions from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the CTSI, and the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation.  The Coulter Foundation will form a working partnership with USC to promote translational research. The new program will promote increasing the number of effective collaborations between biomedical engineers and clinicians. The Coulter grant targets and fosters promising technologies that will translate into direct clinical application. The ultimate goal of this partnership is to focus on outcomes that will save, extend, and improve patient lives. The Foundation's broad mandate addresses suffering from any disease or condition, in any size market, in any discipline, in any country around the world.

"This award is a testament to the national leadership of our Biomedical Engineering Department in Translational Biomedical Engineering Research," said Yannis C. Yortsos, Dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. "The Program will contribute to solving pressing societal health issues. It also fits well with the strategic plan of our BME Department, the Viterbi School of Engineering and complements the University's vision to support interdisciplinary and translational research."

Dr. Norberto Grzywacz, Professor and Chair of the Viterbi School's Department of BME led the collaborative effort as its principal investigator (PI).  The co-PIs were Thomas A. Buchanan, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Associate Dean of Clinical Research at the Keck School of Medicine, and Director of the CTSI, and Krisztina "Z" Holly, Vice Provost for Innovation and Executive Director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation. The team also included Dr. Richard Hull, Senior Director for New Ventures and Alliances at the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation.

"This program harnesses critical gap funding, expertise, and focus to move USC's breakthrough biomedical engineering ideas into positive societal impact," said Holly. "We are thrilled to be working with the Coulter Foundation; this partnership is a key new piece of our interdisciplinary approach to innovation here at USC."

Co-PI Buchanan adds, "This is an outstanding opportunity to create the new interdisciplinary research teams to develop new approaches to diagnose and treat human disease. CTSI was designed to do just that. We are both proud and excited to be part of the USC partnership that won this prestigious award."

The first co-Directors of the Program are Mr. Juan Felipe Vallejo Director of Innovation Development at the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, and Ms. Christine Matheson from the CTSI Center for Scientific Translation. The grant will be administered by the USC Viterbi BME Department. An Oversight Committee will include in addition to the PI and co-PIs, Dr. Carlos Pato, Professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at Keck, and Director of the CTSI Office for Research Development, Dr. Terrence Sanger, Provost Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neurology, and Academic Director of the new Health, Technology and Engineering program at USC (HTE@USC), Dr. Jonathan Lasch, the Director of the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering (AMI), and Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Director of the CTSI Center for Scientific Translation.  Three other members of the Oversight Committee will be venture capitalists, active life science angel investors or entrepreneurs with substantial experience in the medical device/diagnostic or life science industry.

"This important award is another example of the value of the collaboration between our schools," said Keck School of Medicine of USC Dean Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A. "The synergy of ideas made possible by this award has the potential to be of significant benefit to patients."

For more information on the partnering institutions, please visit:

Keck School of Medicine
USC Stevens Institute for Innovation


About the Viterbi School of Engineering: Engineering Studies began at the University of Southern California in 1905. The Viterbi School of Engineering received its name not quite a century later from a 2004 gift from alumnus Andrew J. Viterbi, inventor of the Viterbi algorithm now key to cell phone technology, and other data applications. Consistently ranked among the top 10 graduate programs in the United States, the school enrolls approximately 1,800 undergraduate students and 4,000 graduate students, taught by 168 tenured and tenure-track faculty, with 52 endowed chairs and professorships. For more information, please visit

About the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation: The USC Stevens Institute for Innovation ( is a university-wide resource in the Office of the Provost at the University of Southern California that helps identify, nurture, protect, and transfer to the market the most exciting innovations from USC.  It also provides a central connection for industry seeking cutting-edge innovations in which to invest. As part of this role, the USC Stevens Institute manages the university's intellectual property portfolio stemming from its $560M annual research program. Furthermore, the USC Stevens Institute develops the innovator as well as innovations, through educational programs, community-building events, and showcase opportunities.

SOURCE USC Stevens Institute for Innovation; USC Viterbi School of Engineering
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