From Lab to Patient

Partnership pairs engineers and doctors for medical innovations

DoctorA project housed in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Missouri hopes to speed up the process by which biomedical engineering solutions can be brought to market to help patients.

The Coulter Translational Partnership (CTP) Program funds collaborative projects between engineers and clinicians. MU’s program is one of only 15 across the nation – and the only one in Missouri.  Bioengineering – a joint department in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering – started administering the partnership at Mizzou in 2012.

“The program increases the capacity and pace of biomedical innovation,” said Rebecca Rone, MU program director. “The projects selected ultimately benefit patients by addressing unmet clinical needs.”

Funding awarded under the CTP program is focused on bringing biomedical engineering solutions to the point at which they become attractive for follow-on funding. This is accomplished through evaluating the project in aspects such as intellectual property and market opportunity, identifying and engaging early with potential partners with financing and product development capabilities, and then funding specific experiments in a disciplined, managed process.

The partnership provides a total of $5 million in funding for selected projects. A committee consisting of external business experts, venture capitalists, internal technical experts and physicians select around six projects each year during the five-year partnership, funding each project at around $100,000. Knowing that crossing this gap may take time, project administrators can re-apply again after their one-year funding is over.

Over the first two years of the program , the partnership has funded eight projects at MU, focusing on topics ranging from lung cancer diagnosis, to tissue grafting, to directing cancer treatment, to burn imaging, to neurodevelopmental disorders.

“The partnership is all about taking innovations across the translational gap, creating a product that can be taken to the patients,” Rone said.

Funding for the partnership is provided by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and the University of Missouri.