Focus on Technology Development Fund

Technology Development Fund Awards $1.2M

Fund Slide

Awards Seek to Advance Children’s Hospital Boston’s Promising
Research and Clinical Innovations into Potentially Life Saving

The Boston Children's Hospital Technology Development Fund announced in August that it will invest $1.2M in 11 hospital innovations that span pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical devices, vaccines, and tissue engineering.

The announcement came six months after the Technology and Innovation Development Office (TIDO) issued its first request for proposal and approximately 30 letters of intent were submitted. After a preliminary internal review by TIDO, 17 applicants were invited to submit a full grant proposal and present their projects to an external advisory board of industry experts with extensive product development experience. The advisors recommended funding for 11 projects based on a number of criteria, including their potential for addressing important unmet medical needs and potential for the allocated funds to have a significant impact on the development of the technology.

The list of funded projects includes:

  1. Slow-release anti-angiogenic drug for treating eye diseases (Ofra Benny, PhD and Robert D'Amato, MD, PhD, Vascular Biology Program) [more]
  2. Topical treatment of peripheral neuropathies (Gabriel Corfas, PhD, Neurobiology Program) [more]
  3. Fetal tissue engineering to repair congenital diaphragmatic hernia (Dario Fauza, MD, Surgery) [more]
  4. Semaphorin 3F as a treatment for prostate cancer (Elena Geretti, PhD and Michael Klagsbrun, PhD, Vascular Biology Program) [more]
  5. Pediatric vision scanner (David Hunter, MD, PhD, Ophthalmology) [more]
  6. Urine diagnostic markers of acute appendicitis (Alex Kentsis, MD, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Richard Bachur, MD, Emergency Medicine, and Hanno Steen, PhD, Proteomics) [more]
  7. Packaging oxygen for intravenous injection (John Kheir, MD, Anesthesia, Perioperative and Pain Medicine) [more]
  8. Novel pneumococcal vaccine (Ying-Jie Lu, PhD, and Richard Malley, MD, Infectious Diseases) [more]
  9. Development of chemical chaperones to treat obesity and type 2 diabetes (Umut Ozcan, MD, Endocrinology) [more]
  10. Development of an anti-metastatic peptide as a cancer therapeutic (Randolph Watnick, PhD, Vascular Biology Program) [more]
  11. Hand-held solution to improve communication and coordinate emergency department care (Debra Weiner, MD, PhD, Emergency Medicine)

          For the project details of each awarded technology, click [here]

The Technology Development Fund, launched in March of 2009, was created in response to the growing challenges faced by Boston Children's--and its counterparts throughout the nation--in bringing new ideas and discoveries to market. These challenges, exacerbated by the current economic climate, result from the reluctance of industry to invest in and develop early-stage basic and clinical research. Instead, pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies have increasingly relied on academic institutions to validate their technologies before considering them for licensing. While this trend is understandable when you consider the cost of developing new drugs and medical devices, it has added tremendous pressure on academic institutions that typically lack adequate facilities and capabilities to move from basic research to product development.

The annual Fund, managed by Monique Yoakim-Turk, PhD at TIDO, was therefore created to advance our clinicians and researchers' promising technologies that might otherwise be overlooked by investors and companies for being too early or too risky. To achieve this goal, the Fund utilizes a three-pronged approach that combines an investment of capital into selected technologies, an external advisory board comprised of industry leaders in therapeutic, diagnostic and device product development, and a network of preferred contract research organizations (CROs) equipped with the facilities and capabilities necessary to execute the desired project plan.

"The Technology Development Fund provides clinician-scientists with the support we need to translate our ideas and scientific discoveries into products that will advance patient care and improve safety," said Debra Weiner, MD, PhD, emergency medicine and award recipient. "This unique funding program creates a powerful collaboration between TIDO and clinician-scientists that provides critical financial resources and technology development expertise for early phase development of innovations that may not otherwise progress."

The next step of the Fund involves pairing each project with a member of the advisory board, who will serve as a mentor for the awarded project. Project plans will then be developed and be carried out over a year. The majority of the projects will involve co-development partners, such as contract research organizations (CROs), whose work will increase the technologies probability of finding a corporate partner to bring the new products to market. "We are excited to be pushing this process forward and have found the right combination of efforts by engaging industry experts on our advisory board to work along side us in identifying, evaluating and mentoring the projects chosen for these awards," said Erik Halvorsen, PhD, director of TIDO.

"TIDO's approach is unique and certainly timely," said Beverly Teicher, PhD, vice president of oncology research at Genzyme Corporation and member of the advisory board. "The work that the mentors are doing now will not only educate the current mentees, but also translate to the next generation of academic investigators, preparing them to move their discoveries toward clinical application."

If successful, these funded technologies will bring to market a new diagnostic test for appendicits, novel pnemococcus vaccines affordable to the developing world, a ground breaking procedure for the repair of congenital defects, a new device for the detection of amblyopia and seven other technologies all aligned with the hospital's mission of serving its patients.

"I am very enthusiastic about the program and grateful to our advisors who are extremely generous with their time," said Yoakim-Turk. "Throughout this process, we at TIDO have been working with scientists, clinicians and product development experts who are passionate about improving patient care worldwide; it's been very exciting to work with such a driven group and move these projects along."

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