five test tubes on white background

Three university-based technologies secure translational state funding awards

Working in collaboration with the university’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO), four Case Western Reserve faculty recently secured state funding awards to help them move their research from the campus to the marketplace.

The awards involve three projects that could bring significant benefits to patients:

  • imaging software that can distinguish between brain tumor and benign effects of radiation treatment;
  • a device that protects against infection from contamination through IV ports; and
  • technology that tests babies for cystic fibrosis more quickly and easily than existing methods.

The state funding comes from two separate programs: the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-Up Fund (TVSF) and the state Department of Education’s I-Corps@Ohio program.

The TVSF award provides funding to move technology toward commercialization through testing and prototyping. Its goal is to help researchers be able to license the technology to start-up and early-stage companies.

I-Corps@Ohio, meanwhile, provides hands-on training to faculty and graduate students to help them understand more about the technology commercialization process and the market potential of their technologies.

In total, the projects secured more than $300,000 from the two programs, including matching funds from the university.


Pallavi Tiwari, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and an associate member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, is leading the development of NeuroRadVision, imaging software that distinguishes between a recurrent brain tumor and benign effects of radiation, which can appear similar on a routine MRI scan, resulting in unnecessary surgeries.

The researchers estimate that 30,000 unnecessary brain surgeries are performed annually in the United States and more than 100,000 worldwide because of this issue.

Port sterilizer

James D. Reynolds, associate professor of anesthesiology and a member of the Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine, and James R. Rowbottom, chair of the anesthesiology department at Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals Case Medical Center, are leading a team that is developing a port sterilizer to reduce the number of catheter-related bloodstream infections.

To reduce infection risks, the catheter injection ports are supposed to be wiped with an alcohol swab before a needle is inserted and medication administered. This protocol is effective but time-consuming because the process must be repeated each time the port is used. Swabbing compliance is known to be poor, increasing the likelihood of infection.

The team developed a sterile strip dispenser that clips over the injection port. The device eliminates the need for manually swabbing the port before each use. Senior biomedical engineering students Nicolas DiFranco, Anurag Gupta, Clarissa Kos, Tibby Duan and Jackson Pilliod were integral in designing an initial prototype, using equipment at the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[ box ].

Hand-held device to diagnose cystic fibrosis

Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Miklos Gratzl is developing a low-cost, hand-held device to diagnose cystic fibrosis (CF), an inherited disease characterized by the buildup of thick, sticky mucus that can damage many of the body’s organs. CF’s most common symptoms include gradual damage to the respiratory system and chronic digestive system problems. Treatment must be started immediately in newborns to avoid irreversible damage.

Current testing methods use an infant’s sweat. However, about 20 percent of infants younger than 3 months old can’t produce enough sweat to test accurately. This means a delay of weeks and sometimes months until they can produce enough sweat to test. These methods also produce a high rate of inaccurate results.

Gratzl’s design uses much smaller samples of sweat—about 85 percent less than current methods—which can be obtained even from two-week-old babies. So far, the test has shown to be very accurate.

To learn more about these type of grants, contact Stephanie Weidenbecher in the TTO at or 216.368.6191, or follow announcements in the Weekly Funding Opportunities email distributed by Karen Dunn (