Ivy Foundation Biomedical Innovation Fund Doubles Support for U.Va. Projects Benefiting Human Health

August 21, 2013

New commitments from the Ivy Foundation and the University of Virginia School of Medicine will double the annual Ivy Biomedical Innovation Fund’s research awards for U.Va. faculty, while advancing discoveries to better diagnose and treat disease.

The Ivy Foundation Biomedical Innovation fund supports projects that involve School of Medicine faculty members and other investigators from multiple departments, schools and specialties across the University.

Since the creation of the Ivy Biomedical Innovation Fund in 2008, the Ivy Foundation has awarded $860,000 to University research collaborations that have the potential to yield leading-edge diagnostics, technology and treatments for a wide range of human health problems.

Each year, the fund awards approximately $200,000, with individual awards averaging $50,000. Beginning in 2013, the Ivy Foundation will increase its annual contribution, which will be matched by the School of Medicine to provide awards totaling $500,000 annually.

“The scope of projects funded over the past five years has been impressive,” said Dr. Robert W. Battle, who chairs the Ivy Foundation and directs U.Va.’s Adult Congenital Heart Clinic. “This research will make a real and immediate difference for patients. It’s gratifying to see the work that has been accomplished through the Ivy Foundation’s support. I look forward to seeing the impact that these added resources will make possible.”

In 2012, a record number of U.Va. researchers and clinicians applied for funding, with 28 proposals coming from U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Medical Center. Projects have ranged from using an engineered bacteria to fight pneumonia to finding ways to stimulate red blood cell production in patients with anemia to developing a digital camera system for detecting retinal problems in diabetic patients.

“Our partnership with the Ivy Foundation allows us to make critical early-stage investments in new technologies, attract high-quality external partners and transform health care,” said Thomas C. Skalak, vice president for research. “With this increased investment, we will be able to fund a broader range of projects that truly embody science serving humanity.”

“The Ivy Biomedical Innovation awards fund promising, early-stage research that is not supported through traditional sources, such as the NIH,” Dr. Nancy Dunlap, dean of the School of Medicine, added. “That makes these awards an especially valuable resource for novel projects that are just getting started or that address a very specific concern. We are extremely fortunate to benefit from the Ivy Foundation’s generous commitment to health care research.”

“The quality of the science in the funded proposals is outstanding and offers the promise of improvements in patient care for many years to come,” said Dr. Christopher M. Kramer, a member of the fund’s review and governing boards and of the Ivy Foundation board. Kramer is Ruth C. Heede Professor of Cardiology, professor of radiology and director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Center at U.Va.

Dr. Robert H. Thiele, a critical care anesthesiologist with a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Dr. James Isbell, a thoracic surgeon who is completing a critical care fellowship at U.Va., are developing a device that surgeons and specialists can use to determine the health of mucosal tissue during major operations and critical illness. Thiele said the Ivy Biomedical Innovation Fund award will be essential to furthering his team’s project, a joint effort between the departments of Anesthesiology and Surgery.

“Clinicians interested in biomedical device development typically have a difficult time obtaining external funding,” Thiele said. “The Ivy Biomedical Innovation Fund award will allow us to construct a workable prototype in the setting of a teaching institution and, if all goes well, move directly toward commercialization.”

Research proposals for the 2013 Ivy Biomedical Innovation Fund are now being accepted. For information, click here. For other translational research funding opportunities at U.Va., click here.

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Fariss Samarrai

University News Associate Office of University Communications