Photo of a biomedical researcher holding a pipette and petri dish in the lab

Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership awards $1.1 million in funding and support for promising biomedical engineering university technologies

The Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership between Case Western Reserve University and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation has announced more than $1.1 million in 2018 funding and support for six biomedical technologies.

The six Case Western Reserve projects were selected for full program funding, which ranges from $50,000 to $200,000 each. Several additional pilot projects have or will be awarded funding by the end of the year. All projects are partnerships between a clinician and a biomedical engineer, and are focused on solving areas of unmet clinical need.

The 12-year-old program invests more than $1 million annually in direct funding and support services to help research teams from Case Western Reserve advance products from the laboratory to the marketplace, where they can improve patient care.

The money goes toward preparing projects for commercialization, such as demonstrating technical feasibility, and gauging their market feasibility and industry interest. The program has led to 22 startup companies and several other licenses that have delivered 26 technologies to patients.

“The Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership continues to be a cornerstone of our department, filling an essential gap to transition university biomedical technologies from research to products, where they can significantly improve the health of our society,” said Robert Kirsch, professor and chair of the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.

The Case-Coulter oversight committee reviewed 25 proposals during this cycle. Projects must have the potential to leave the university within 12 to 30 months.

“As a group, the quality of the proposals received continues to improve each year, making the selection decisions more challenging than ever,” said Stephen Fening, director of the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership at Case Western Reserve. “We had many more proposals that were deserving of inclusion into the program than we were able to accommodate.”

The six projects selected and their inventors are:

Illustration of a Sickle cell disease biochip blood-cell adhesion test Sickle cell disease biochip blood-cell adhesion test for emerging anti-adhesive therapies

Umut Gurkan, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Jane Little, professor of medicine in the Department of Hematology and Oncology

Sickle cell disease biochip technology is a new microfluidic blood test that measures the stickiness of blood cells to blood vessel walls. This new blood test can be used as a companion diagnostic test platform for emerging anti-adhesive therapies to allow effective, personalized treatment and care for patients living with sickle cell disease.

3-D ultrasound imaging for ophthalmology

Faruk Orge, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the School of Medicine and pediatric division chief of ophthalmology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center; and David Wilson, professor of biomedical engineering

Illustration of high-resolution, 3D microscopic ultrasound systemThis technology will be the first high-resolution, 3-D microscopic ultrasound system to provide novel visualizations of eye structures to better understand pathophysiology, plan treatments and assess treatment results. Ultrasound is an effective ophthalmic imaging method that allows structures behind the iris, including the lens and ciliary body, as well as key portions of the aqueous outflow system, to be seen. This region of the eye plays a critical role in glaucoma—which affects over 2.7 million people in the United States alone—and cataract, which are leading causes of reversible and irreversible blindness.

Image of lung cancer cellLunIOTx: decision-support technology for predicting response to immunotherapy in lung cancer

Anant Madabhushi, the F. Alex Nason Professor II of biomedical engineering and director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics

LunIOTx is a non-invasive decision-support technology that uses patented artificial intelligence and pattern recognition algorithms on routine CT scans to identify lung cancer patients who will or will not respond to immunotherapy. By identifying patterns on CT scans associated with response, LunIOTx can enable early identification of lung cancer patients in whom expensive immunotherapy can be avoided and who might be better candidates for chemo or radiation therapy.

Magneto-optical diagnosis of Lyme disease in blood samples

Brian Grimberg, assistant professor of international health at the School of Medicine; and Umut Gurkan, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering

There is an expanding need for a reliable diagnosis to identify and treat more than 300,000 people potentially infected with Lyme disease in the United States. Iron-labeled antibodies attach to the Borrelia bacteria, which makes it responsive to a magnetic field and can yield a result in five minutes, as opposed to weeks. More importantly, the technology functions immediately after exposure to an infected tick instead of having to wait a month for the current test. This early detection can lead to an early cure instead of patients languishing for years without an effective treatment.

Magnetic resonance fingerprinting for target identification in deep brain stimulation

Cameron McIntyre, the Tilles-Weidenthal Professor of biomedical engineering; and Mark Griswold, professor of radiology

The goal of this project is to develop a clinical workflow and computational algorithm that enables integration of advanced MI acquisitions, known as magnetic resonance fingerprinting, into surgical targeting strategies for deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapies. The inventors are developing their prototype system around subthalamic nucleus DBS for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Novel positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agent for tumor detection and treatment

Susann Brady-Kalnay; professor of molecular biology and microbiology; and James Basilion, professor of radiology biomedical engineering and pathology.

Specific tumor detection is critically important in cancer imaging to avoid unnecessary biopsies to exclude false-positive findings and to allow treatment—or redirection of treatment—at earlier stages of the disease. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging agents that specifically recognize tumor cells are necessary for improved imaging and subsequent evaluation of therapeutic efficacy independent of their metabolic rates. PTPµ is a novel imageable biomarker that can be used to specifically and more comprehensively detect and monitor aggressive invasive and metastatic tumors.

For more information, contact Bill Lubinger at