October 20, 2008

Anonymous gift of $2 million advances translational research at Case Western Reserve University

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Case Western Reserve University has received an anonymous $2 million gift to endow the program directorship of the Coulter-Case Translational Research Partnership (CCTRP) in the department of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University. Biomedical engineering is a joint program of the Case School of Engineering and the School of Medicine.

Case Western Reserve is one of only nine schools in the U.S. selected to participate in the Translational Research Partnerships in Biomedical Engineering, sponsored by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. The department of biomedical engineering receives $4.5 million over five years from Coulter to participate in the partnership.

The goal of the partnership is to accelerate the introduction of new technologies into patient care by supporting collaborative translational research projects that involve co-investigators from the department of biomedical engineering and clinical departments at the School of Medicine and affiliated institutions.

"Private commitments to the Coulter-Case Partnership are vitally important to its continued work in advancing interdisciplinary research," said Norman C. Tien, dean and Nord Professor of Engineering at the Case School of Engineering. "By promoting, developing and supporting translational research through these collaborative projects, we can accelerate the process of moving promising technologies to clinical application."

The partnership's current project director, Colin K. Drummond, was appointed in June. Drummond comes to Case Western Reserve from local industry, where he led the analysis and development of advanced technologies for several Cleveland-area medical device companies.

Michael Gara, the Coulter Foundation's director of research awards and liaison to Case Western Reserve, explains the program director position concept is borrowed from industry. It was introduced by the foundation into the partnership program in a format similar to that employed by biotech/healthcare companies to manage and accelerate research and development. The foundation views this position as a key element to the success of the program.

"Case Western Reserve University's Department of Biomedical Engineering is considered one of the best in the world," Drummond said. "I'm excited to be here and eager to accomplish our goal–focusing on outcomes which would improve patient care."

The department of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve has traditionally played a strong role in translational research, taking basic scientific information or new technologies and transforming them into something the medical community can use at the patient's bedside. The university has developed the highly successful biomedical engineering research and education model, which is ranked among the top 10 departments in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.

Biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve has four research thrust areas: biomaterials, including tissue engineering and drug delivery; neural engineering and neural prostheses; biomedical imaging, guided interventions, and sensors and systems. The research involves strong collaborations with all four of the Cleveland area's medical institutions: University Hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland VA Medical Center and MetroHealth Medical Center.

The Translational Research Partnership program is the largest and most extensive of the Coulter Foundation, a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to improving human health care by supporting translational research in biomedical engineering– research directed at the transfer of promising technologies within the university research lab that are progressing toward commercial development and clinical practice. Through this program, the foundation is forming working partnerships with leading biomedical engineering programs at North American universities, and will work closely with the selected partner institutions and their communities.

The Coulter Foundation, based in Miami, is named for Wallace H. Coulter, an engineer, inventor and entrepreneur who applied engineering principles to a biomedical problem, resulting in the discovery of the "Coulter Principle." He founded Coulter Corp., which developed and marketed the first automated blood cell counters and flow cytometers– instruments that revolutionized health care diagnostics and therapeutics.

"We are very proud of the research and teaching we do in biomedical engineering and our leadership position in translational research," said Jeffrey L. Duerk, chair of the department of biomedical engineering, professor of radiology and director of the Case Center for Imaging Research. "So much of what happens in hospitals and medical centers around the world will depend on the biomedical breakthroughs that continue to take place at Case Western Reserve."

For more information contact Laura M. Massie, 216.368.4442.

Posted by: Amy Raufman October 20, 2008 10:54 AM | Category: Case School of Engineering , Individuals , Priorities , Research Support , Schools , Source