Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards eight novel biomedical devices with $100,000 total 2014 Round-1 Pilot Funding


PITTSBURGH (June 30, 2014) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $100,000 to eight research groups through its 2014 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include developing wireless EEG sensor and signal processing system for enhanced monitoring; a bronchial prosthesis to assist lung cancer survivors after surgical removal; and tinted sutures for external surgery that fade to clear to improve aesthetic features.

CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE), supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential health care impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and potential in obtaining further financial investment to translate the particular solution to healthcare. Since 2011, CMI has awarded over $483,000 in funding to 29 research groups.

“This is our third year of pilot funding, and our leadership team could not be more excited with the breadth and depth of this round’s awardees,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “This early-stage interdisciplinary research helps to develop highly specific biomedical technologies through a proven strategy of linking UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.”

AWARD 1: Contained Morcellation Device
Award to design, build and test an improved morcellation device for laparoscopic surgery, preventing the accidental release of cancerous tissue into the body.

Pamela Moalli, MD
Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Magee Womens Hospital

Alan Rosenbaum, MD
Resident Physician, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Magee Womens Hospital

Jeffrey Vipperman, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, SSOE


AWARD 2: Stratifying Pre-hospital Electrocardiograms of Ischemic Coronary Events to Guide Treatment Decision-Making at Emergency Departments (SPEED)
Award to develop a system for rapid, accurate pre-hospital management of myocardial infarction patients through the use of novel ECG signal processing techniques.

Salah Al-Zaiti, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Ervin Sejdic, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, SSOE

Clifton Callaway, MD

Professor of Emergency Medicine, UPMC

Amro El-Jaroudi, PhD
Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, SSOE


AWARD 3: A Novel Low-Profile Ventriculoamniotic Shunt for Fetal Aqueductal Stenosis
Award to develop a fluid drainage shunt for in-utero treatment of fetal hydrocephalus.

Stephen P. Emery, MD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Magee Womens Hospital

Youngjae Chun, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Engineering, SSOE


AWARD 4: Auxetic Structures for Urogynecological Implantations
Award to design, build and perform invivo testing of a new class of surgical meshes for treatment of pelvic organ prolapse without the complications of currently marketed devices.

Steven D. Abramowitch, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, SSOE

Pamela A. Moalli, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Magee Womens Hospital


AWARD 5: Single Unit Leadless EEG Sensor
Award to design, build, and test a wireless EEG sensor and signal processing system for use in emergency medicine, critical care, and ambulatory monitoring.

Mingui Sun, PhD
Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, SSOE

Parthasarathy D. Thirumala, MD
Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery and Neurology, UPMC

Di Gao, PhD
Associate Professor, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, SSOE

Jeffrey Balzer, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, UPMC


AWARD 6: Fade to Clear High Visibility Sutures
Award to develop and test a new suture which is highly visible during placement and becomes transparent during patient recovery, thereby improving aesthetic outcomes.

J. Peter Rubin, MD
Chairman, Department of Plastic Surgery, School of Medicine

Eric J. Beckman, PhD

Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, SSOE


AWARD 7: PerioMag GBR Barrier Membrane
Award to develop a resorbable barrier membrane for faster and lower cost guided bone regeneration (GBR) in periodontal applications.

Charles Sfeir, DDS, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Dentistry

Andrew Brown, BS
Graduate Student Researcher, Department of Bioengineering, SSOE

Steven Little, PhD
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, SSOE


AWARD 8: Surgically Implantable prosthesis for prevention of tracheobronchial distortion after lobar lung resection
Award to develop a prosthesis to prevent bronchial kinking after removal of one or more lobes of the lung. The device will prevent post-surgical complications that impact recovery and quality of life for lung cancer patients.

James D. Luketich, MD

Chairman, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, UPMC

William J. Federspiel, PhD

Professor of Bioengineering, Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, SSOE

Arjun Pennathur, MD
Assistant Professor Surgery, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, UPMC

Diane Strollo, MD
Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, UPMC

Valentino Bianco, DO
Research Fellow, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, UPMC


About the Center for Medical Innovation
The Center for Medical Innovation at the Swanson School of Engineering is a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Office of Technology Management (OTM), and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). CMI was established in 2011 to promote the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; to educate the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and to facilitate the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services in cooperation with OTM and in partnership with CTRP.

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