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Cincinnati Children’s Invests in Homegrown High-Tech Innovations


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is investing in six technologies nurtured through its research programs that show potential for near-term patient benefit and commercial development. 

Ranging from prospective new therapies to technologies designed to more quickly and accurately diagnose disease, the projects will collectively receive a total of $500,000 over one year as part of the medical center’s Innovation Fund. The fund – now in its second year –is a source of early stage bridge funding to further develop technologies until they are medically and commercially viable and ready for outside investment. 

“The Innovation Fund allows the medical center to select promising projects developed by its researchers and accelerate their bench-to-bedside transition and entry to the patient care market,” said Niki Robinson, Ph.D., assistant vice president of the medical center’s Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC). “This funding provides crucial financial support at a critical time to projects that otherwise might not continue their development.” 

One of the largest pediatric research institutions in the nation – and the second largest recipient of research funds from the National Institutes of Health – Cincinnati Children’s researchers discover dozens of potential medical innovations every year. Be they prospective molecular targets for treating or diagnosing disease or concepts for new medical devices, many discoveries enter a critical funding gap after basic research funding drops off and prior to outside commercial investment. 

The CTC and the Innovation Fund are designed to help bridge this gap and provide promising discoveries an improved chance to reach full potential – both for the benefit of patients and to achieve optimal commercial success. As part of its role to support the medical center’s mission, the CTC focuses on accelerating technology development that benefits patients and supports high-tech economic development in the region. 

This year’s Innovation Fund submissions were reviewed by a local volunteer advisory board composed of high-technology venture capital executives and high-technology economic development experts (see addendum below).

Additionally, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation provided a grant of $100,000 for this year’s round of funding. The non-profit foundation serves an eight-county region in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana by supporting philanthropy and providing grants and leadership in arts and culture, community and economic development, education, environment, health, and human services. 

“The CTC relies heavily on Greater Cincinnati’s considerable expertise in healthcare, product development, venture capital and regional cooperation to get the most out of the Innovation Fund,” Robinson said. “These leaders volunteer their time to review applications and provide invaluable input, making this a true community effort to improve health outcomes for kids around the world.” 

Recipients of this year’s Innovation Fund awards include: 

  • Ted Denson, MD, Division of Gastroenterology – Development of a diagnostic technology that uses genetic signatures and computer algorithms to delineate between the inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. The incidence of IBD in children has doubled over the last decade. This technology is designed to address a critical unmet need for a novel diagnostic and prognostic tool. 
  • Charles (Chuck) Dumoulin, PhD, Department of Radiology – Continued development of a novel neonatal MRI scanner for newborn babies. The small scanner can be housed right in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and provides closer, quieter and improved imaging quality. The scanner is expected to have a major impact in improving care for premature babies who are frequently too fragile to transport from the NICU to radiology for diagnostic imaging. 
  • William Hardie, MD, Division of Pulmonary Medicine – Confirming the effectiveness of a prospective oral therapy that would target a specific molecule (P70S6K) to reverse pulmonary fibrosis – a complication found in a number of adult and pediatric diseases. Pulmonary fibrosis causes significant medical complications for patients and can be fatal. There are no current therapies approved to treat pulmonary fibrosis, so a successful therapeutic approach would have an immediate and profound impact on patients and the medical community. 
  • Punam Malik, MD, Division of Experimental Hematology/Cancer Biology – Continued study of an improved y-globin gene developed by Dr. Malik’s research team for a prospective Phase I/II clinical trial of gene therapy for Sickle Cell Disease – which affects millions of people worldwide. Therapeutic options for this disease – which can cause severe pain, organ damage and death – are extremely limited. High-risk bone barrow transplants can be used in certain instances. Safer and more effective therapeutic options for this disease are urgently needed. 
  • Senthil Sadhasivam, MD, MPH, Department of Anesthesia – Development of a rapid-point-of care genetic test and decision support that allows physicians to precisely tailor the use of opioids for pain management. Inadequate pain relief and serious side effects from opioids occur in up to 50 percent of surgical patients. This technology has the potential to address a critical unmet medical need by using information on genetic variability in patients to preemptively predict risk and proactively tailor pain management to maximize pain relief while minimizing serious adverse effects. 
  • Hector Wong, MD, Division of Critical Care Medicine – Further testing and validation of a novel diagnostic biomarker (IL-27) for rapid and early identification of sepsis in patients. Current diagnostic methods using microbiologic cultures can be imprecise and time consuming. This can delay urgent medical treatment for patients developing sepsis, which can lead to a more severe and sometimes fatal condition called septic shock. Successful development of IL-27 as a novel diagnostic biomarker for sepsis would allow more prompt intervention with antibiotic therapy. 

About the Innovation Fund Advisory Board

Volunteer members of the Innovation Fund Advisory Board include: Bob Beech, entrepreneur-in-residence, CincyTech; Mark Collar, independent, previously with Procter & Gamble (P&G); Rich Kiley, independent, previously with P&G; Ken Kozak, vice president, Meridian Bioscience; Carter McNabb, managing director, River Cities Capital Fund; John Rice, partner, Triathlon Medical Ventures; Jan Rosenbaum, director, CincyTech; Dov Rosenberg, director, Allos Ventures; Justin Thompson, senior analyst, CincyTech; Mike Venerable, director, CincyTech; Jeff Weedman, director, CintriFuse; Molly Katz, past president, Academy of Medicine and current member of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation Governing Board. 

About Cincinnati Children’s

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S.News and World Report’s 2013 Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. It is ranked #1 for cancer and in the top 10 for nine of 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org. Connect on the Cincinnati Children’s blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

Contact Information

Nick Miller
513-803-6035