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Getting Medical Advances To Market: UM Launches $7.5M Fund For Innovators

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University of Michigan Hospital (University of Michigan photo)

University of Michigan Hospital (University of Michigan photo)

ANN ARBOR — A new $7.5 million fund will help University of Michigan medical discoveries make the leap from the laboratory to the market, accelerating their potential to help patients.

Funded in part by a new $2.4 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s 21st Century Jobs Fund, the new effort will help the UM Medical School and UM Tech Transfer identify, nurture and “fast forward” medical research projects with a high potential of commercial success.

The fund will officially be called the UM M-TRAC for Life Sciences — one of seven Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization efforts announced this week by the MEDC.

Over the next three years, UM medical researchers will be able to apply for translational research funds to help them pursue early-stage “proof of concept” projects with high commercial potential and value.

These projects may yield new treatments, medical devices, diagnostic tools and health care information technologies. An oversight committee that will be largely composed of experts skilled in product development, commercialization and tech transfer will review and select proposals for funding.

The other $5 million for the fund comes from commitments of budget funds from the Medical School, the UM Vice President for Research office and the UM Office of Technology Transfer. It’s part of a broader strategic effort to give UM medical researchers the support they need to create the future of health care through discovery.

“The Medical School’s co-investment in this important new program will provide yet another resource to help our faculty prepare their research innovations for translation to the market, with the ultimate goal of impacting patient care,” said James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., dean of the Medical School and Lyle C. Roll Professor of Medicine.

Grants awarded from the new fund will augment the Medical School’s already very strong position as a biomedical research powerhouse. In UM fiscal year 2012, total funding for the school’s researchers was nearly $470 million — including $45 million from industry. The school’s $310 million in National Institutes of Health funding in federal fiscal year 2012 is the eighth-highest total in the nation.

“While new inventions, licenses to new and existing businesses, and increased follow on funding will be among the important milestones for this effort, the ultimate measure of success will be the positive impacts to human health — as well as job creation — that this funding will make possible,” said Steven L. Kunkel, the medical school’s senior associate dean for research, Endowed Professor of Pathology, and co-principal investigator of the MEDC grant.

“The Medical School’s research community generates an incredible array of new ideas and technologies,” said Kenneth Nisbet, executive director of UM Tech Transfer and co-principal investigator. “We recorded 117 new inventions, 47 patent applications and 57 agreements with businesses in 2012 from Medical School researchers, joining an impressive array of products already in the clinic and on the market. This new translational research fund will further expand our commercialization capabilities.”

For more information on what the UM Medical School is doing to help its research make the leap to the private sector, see www.med.umich.edu/bd.

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