UW Bioengineering researchers among recipients of grants from Washington Life Sciences Discovery Fund
April 4, 2011 | UW Bioengineering
The Washington Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF), a foundation in Washington state providing grant support for biomedical research, awarded nearly $600,000 of funding in its latest round of grants, which were announced recently. Among the recipients are UW Bioengineering faculty members Barry Lutz and Patrick Stayton.
The grants support four projects aimed at developing technologies to improve the diagnosis and management of major health conditions. The awards were made in the second round of the 2010 Life Sciences Discovery Fund commercialization grant competition. The competition promotes the translation of promising technologies from Washington’s non-profit research sector into marketable products and services that improve health, foster economic growth, and enhance life sciences competitiveness in the state.
Stayton, professor of bioengineering at the UW, received a $150,000 grant for the development of a next-generation high-speed immunoassay. He will develop new reagents to increase the speed and sensitivity of laboratory tests (known as immunoassays) used for diagnosing and monitoring disorders such as cancer and heart disease. A new company is planned to commercialize the reagents should proof of concept be demonstrated.
Lutz, research assistant professor of bioengineering at the UW, and his research partner Samuel Browd, assistant professor of neurosurgery at the UW and a pediatric neurosurgeon at Seattle Children’s Hospital, received a grant of about $150,000 from the LSDF. The grant will support their project on an auto-regulated, externalized cerebrospinal fluid drainage system for improved control, safety, and patient mobility in neurosurgery patients.Drainage of cerebrospinal fluid is an issue that sometimes arises with patients who have had brain trauma, as well as those who have chronic problems with properly draining cerebrospinal fluid and need a implanted shunt to take care of fluid drainage. Fluid drainage systems and implanted shunts currently have a high rate of failure, and replacing either of them requires complicated neurosurgery. Browd and Lutz received funding from the Coulter Translational Research Partnership, a UW Bioengineering program, to develop an implantable valve for the drainage system, and the two of them are using the support from LSDF to develop a drain for using in hospitals.
Two other grants were also awarded to UW faculty members in this competition: Jane Burns, UW professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Seattle Children’s Hospital, received $150,000 for a project on the non-invasive detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the breath of people with cystic fibrosis. Christopher Bernards, UW clinical professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine and anesthesiologist and researcher at Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason Medical Center, received $150,000 for a project on the olfactory delivery of centrally acting analgesics.
The four awards were chosen from 10 proposals received in the competition. A panel of national experts convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science evaluated the scientific and technical merit of the projects, while a panel of commercialization experts assessed each project’s commercial potential and possible health and economic benefits. The LSDF Board of Trustees made the final award selections.
Other UW Bioengineering faculty are investigators on projects supported by the LSDF. Ceci Giachelli is the lead investigator on a commercialization grant for an optimized osteopontin molecule that could inhibit or reverse calcium deposition in blood vessels, hopefully improving the health of people with vascular calcification as a result of heart disease. Narendra Singh and Henry Lai are co-investigators on a research center in the UW Department of Chemistry, led by Tomikazu Sasaki, that is focused on the use of the compound artemisinin in treating cancer.
Stayton has also received LSDF grants in the past, including a four-year, $7.2 million grant creating the Center for Intracellular Delivery of Biologics, and a grant of nearly $1 million to fund the development of new smart cards for diagnostic screening.