Case Western Reserve University’s imaging research program has received a regional economic development prize for supporting the creation of the medical imaging business cluster in Northeast Ohio.
The program received the 2009 Asset Creation Award at the fourth annual Team NEO Economic Development Awards Ceremony, attended by about 700 in Akron Wednesday night.
“We have a responsibility and an opportunity to impact the region through research and education in medical imaging,” said Jeffrey Duerk, chair of the biomedical engineering department, a joint program between the School of Medicine and Case School of Engineering, and director of the Case Center for Imaging Research. “We embrace the fact that companies in the region, many who we work with, benefit not only from our research expertise but also the skilled employees that our undergraduate and graduate programs create. These alumni then help create the next generation of technologies and imaging products that ensure a sustainable competitive advantage in imaging in NE Ohio.”
Case Western Reserve’s imaging program, begun in the 1980s, includes faculty and researchers in the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of engineering, medicine and affiliated health care partners, including University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Siemens, Philip’s Healthcare, QED, ViewRay and MIMvista, among others.
The award is based on activity in the preceding 12 months. Case Western Reserve’s imaging program has spun out new companies and licensed new technology, received Ohio Third Frontier grants and “has made continued progress in developing the highly-skilled workforce that is the driving force of the imaging economy,” said Susan Luria, vice president of the non-profit BioEnterprise, who nominated the university for the award.
She called Case Western Reserve’s program a “powerhouse” with a long history of developing imaging technology that in many ways has eliminated the need for exploratory surgery common just a decade ago.
“The Ohio Department of Development estimates that employment within the biomedical imaging sector increased 86% from 2004 to 2008 alone. Two-thirds of Ohio's imaging companies have started moving their manufacturing facilities here, in part to have access to local funding, skilled professionals and research taking place in biomedical imaging at CWRU,” the award citation says. “As the field of biomedical imaging enters the new frontiers of theragnostics, combining imaging with therapeutic delivery, Case Western Reserve University continues to be at the head of the class.”
The university was slated for the award even before announcements this month that Philips Healthcare has committed $33.4 million and the state another $5 million to create the Global Advanced Imaging Innovation Center, to open at University Hospitals Case Medical Center next year. This award provides new opportunities for collaborative research with industry. For example, the university continues to enjoy a partnership with Siemens Medical Solutions that is in its 25th year. The fact that Philips and Siemens, both international companies, choose CWRU for their cutting-edge research programs, is further evidence of the imaging program’s draw, Luria and others said.
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