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Duke Engineers and Clinicians Create Medical Devices Together

Duke-Coulter Partnership awards nearly $800K of biomedical engineering and clinical research to address unmet clinical needs

This story appeared originally on the Duke Translational Research Institute site

Four new projects and two renewal projects will receive nearly $800,000 for research through the 2015 Coulter-Duke Translational Partnership grant. The funding, which begins on September 1, marks the 10th year of the program.

This year’s new recipients are developing non-invasive methods of measuring stiff livers and brain fluid, and using computing power to screen for mental health and personalize spinal cord stimulation.

Celebrating 10 years of Coulter Award GrantsThe Coulter-Duke program, launched in 2006, accelerates the development of promising bioengineering research that addresses unmet clinical needs. The awards help bridge the hard-to-fund period between proof-of-concept and a commercially viable idea.

To be eligible for the one-year grants, research teams must include a lead investigator from the Pratt School of Engineering’s Biomedical Engineering department, and at least one member of Duke’s Medical School faculty or staff. Once selected, the teams receive not only funding support, but project management and expertise from the Duke Translational Research Institute and Duke’s Office of Licensing and Ventures.

Over the past decade, Duke has awarded more than $7 million to 36 projects through the Coulter Award program with heartening results: more than $385 million in follow-on funding, six licenses to industry, and eight new companies formed.

“The most exciting thing about the Coulter Program at Duke is seeing how each year the projects get better and better,” says Barry Myers, director of the program. “Working with our faculty, we moved five projects into the market in the first five years and 13 in the second four. Growth like that only happens when truly innovative faculty get the resources they need to succeed.”

2015-16 Awards

This year’s new Duke-Coulter Translational Research Partnership recipients are:

  • BME associate research professor Dale Bass and pediatric neurosurgeon Carrie Muh, who will develop a passive pressure sensor to allow intracranial pressure and shunt flow to be queried non-invasively for patients who have had a shunt implanted to drain excess fluid from around the brain.
  • BME research scientist Peter Hollender, BME and Anesthesiology assistant research professor Mark Palmeri, and associate professor of medicine Manal Abdelmalek, who will build a portable ultrasound elastography device for measuring the stiffness of the liver. Clinicians could use this device to help diagnose non-alcoholic fatty liver disease without an invasive liver biopsy.
  • BME and Neurobiology professor Warren Grill and assistant professor of Surgery Nandan Lad, who will validate novel patient-specific computational models expected to increase the efficacy and efficiency of chronic pain treatment using spinal cord stimulation.
  • Pratt School of Engineering professor Guillermo Sapiro, and professor Geraldine Dawson and associate professor Helen Egger from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, who will develop downloadable screening and clinical trial monitoring applications for mobile devices. These programs automatically analyze children’s visual attention, emotional behavior, and vital signs in response to stimuli designed to elicit early behaviors indicating risk for autism or a child mental health condition.

Additionally, two teams that received Duke-Coulter award funding during the last cycle have been awarded continuation grants:

  • The team of Michael Therien, Terry Yoshizumi, and Junzo Chino will continue to push forward with their real time, in-vivo radiation dose monitoring for external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy
  • Charles Gersbach, associate professor in BME, will continue to work with pediatric neurologist Edward Smith to develop targeted gene editing of skeletal muscle progenitor cells to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.