Biomedical Innovation Fund Awards $265,000 for U.Va. Projects

April 19, 2011 — From a retraction device for gallbladder extraction during laparoscopic surgery to a medicine for treating cigarette-induced emphysema to a treatment for medication-resistant chronic pain, six innovative University of Virginia biomedical research projects are the recipients of $265,000 in new support from the University's Biomedical Innovation Fund.
The funds are provided through the Ivy Foundation and the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science and Technology.
"The Ivy Foundation's vision has helped U.Va. achieve a position of high visibility among universities that are bringing major benefits to society out of our scientific laboratories," Thomas C. Skalak, U.Va. vice president for research, said. "U.Va. is emerging as a world hub for biomedical innovations that help people and create economic growth."
The Ivy Foundation is a major benefactor of U.Va.'s biomedical research programs, providing funds for endowed professorships in pediatrics and fellowships for researchers in the medical sciences and other areas.
In 2008, the Ivy Foundation established the Biomedical Innovation Fund to support collaborative research projects with the potential to yield leading-edge diagnostics and treatments for a range of human health problems. In 2009, additional support was raised through the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science and Technology. The goal is to accelerate the process of bringing research from the lab to the patient.

"With the program in its third year now, we are building an excellent track record of translational and commercial success," said David Chen, a program manager for the Biomedical Innovation Fund and director of translational research for the School of Medicine. "As a result of funding, a number of startups as well as licensing negotiations are taking place. These will enable the technologies to advance health care."
The grants are awarded after rigorous review by a committee composed of corporate researchers and venture capitalists and overseen by the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Additionally, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Johnson & Johnson have created a new fund to support innovative technology and entrepreneurial ventures in biomedicine. The goal is to support projects addressing unmet clinical needs, resulting in rapid solutions to biomedical and health care problems. The program will support ventures between $5,000 and $40,000. For information about this new program, contact Chen at 434-243-7357 or, or Lianne Landers at 434-243-2196 or

This year's Biomedical Innovation Fund recipients are:
• Dr. Paul A. Yates, ophthalmology: Commercialization of a Low Cost "Point and Shoot" Camera for Screening Retinal Photography. An inexpensive camera for use in primary care clinics to screen the retinas of diabetics.
• Marcel Utz, mechanical and aerospace engineering, chemistry; George Gillies, mechanical and aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, physics; Dr. Matthew A. Howard III, neurosurgery: Inductively Coupled Implants For Direct Spinal Cord Stimulation. A treatment for medication-resistant chronic pain.
• Dr. Mary Laughlin and Dr. Yimin Wu, hematology/oncology: Novel microRNA-184 Targeting MFTAI in CD4 T-Cell Product for cGVHD Therapy. A stem-cell therapy for complications arising from bone-marrow transplants.
• Dr. Craig Slingluff, surgical oncology; William Guilford, biomedical engineering; Dr. Joshua Judge, general surgery: Gallbladder Extraction Retractor. A retraction device for gallbladder removal during laparoscopic surgery.
• Dr. Laura H. Rosenberger, general surgery; Dr. Brian J. Williams, neurosurgery; Phillip A. Brudnicki, materials science; Alexander S. Germain, biomedical engineering; Dr. Robert G. Sawyer, general surgery: Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy SafetyBreak Device. A device to reduce occurrences of accidental dislodgement of feeding tubes.
• Dr. Yun Michael Shim, pulmonary and critical care; Mikell Palge, Covenant Therapeutics LLC: Preclinical Testing of a Novel EDO-66 Formulation by Nebulization for Pulmonary Emphysema Therapy. A pharmaceutical for treating cigarette-induced emphysema.

— By Fariss Samarrai

Media Contact

Fariss Samarrai

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications