MU biomedical research teams received six grants totalling approximately $600,000 on Sept. 18.
The grants came from the Coulter Translational Partnership Program. Partnering with the School of Medicine and the College of Engineering, the program focuses on quickly putting innovative medical ideas into practice.
Ferris Pfeiffer, an assistant professor of bioengineering, said the process of implementing new ideas in practice is often a barrier for researchers.
“The Coulter Partnership pairs someone like myself, an engineer, with a clinician,” Pfeiffer said. “I’m able to very quickly translate the work that I’m doing into his hands, and he’s able to give suggestions along the way so that when we get finished with this project he’s ready to use it (in the medical field).”
Six different projects were awarded grants, and each went through rigorous screening phases.
Pfeiffer is involved in two programs, both focused on improving joint and tendon repairs. The Coulter Partnership allows researchers the opportunity to test risky ideas other investors are less likely to fund, he said.
“As engineers, we become a little afraid of coming up with new and wonderful ideas, most of which have to be proven before they can ever be of any benefit,” Pfeiffer said. “It usually takes a significant amount of money in order to find out the risk. Typically, we can’t attract industry to do that. It’s too risky for them. They don’t want to put out their funds for something that’s not really a sure thing.”
In addition to Pfeiffer’s joint and tendon research, four other faculty headed projects are in the works. Coinciding with the joint research is a project using nanomaterials to improve anterior cruciate ligament healing.
Two projects explore cardiology. One creates a new surgical device for heart valve replacement and another speeds up blood tests in order to detect infection.
Gerald Arthur, assistant research professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, and his research partner Raghu Kannan, assistant professor in the department of bioengineering, are both heading a project using nanotechnology to target cancer cells.
Arthur said what sets the Coulter Partnership apart from other funding programs is its approach to project selection, focusing more on effectiveness in the medical field as opposed to solely the commercial aspect.
“(The Coulter Partnership) is specifically designed to take promising scientific research and turn it into something that can be implemented in healthcare,” Arthur said. “It’s focused on converting current knowledge we have developed in the projects into something thats useful right now. It’s a very practical approach, which is somewhat different from government funding.”