New CIMIT grants fund optics and photonics innovations among high-potential medical research projects

MAY 19, 2009--CIMIT (Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology), a non-profit consortium of teaching hospitals and engineering schools in the area of Boston, MA, has announced that it will commit over $4 million to 27 medical research teams for fiscal year 2010. Among the funded technologies are an optical sensor for colon cancer screening, an image-guided laser therapy catheter for Barrett's esophagus, a hybrid optic-electromagnetic surgical tool tip tracking system for neurosurgery, and a photo-activated nanofiber graft material for tendon repair.

The goal of the CIMIT grant program is to bring together clinicians and engineers, often from different institutions, to accelerate medical innovation for the benefit of soldier and civilian patients. CIMIT says the grants are going to multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary teams developing innovative early-stage medical devices or clinical systems. This year there were a record 255 applications for funding. "We were very impressed by the quality of proposals this year," said selection committee chair Steven Schachter, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Chief Academic Officer of CIMIT. "Teams brought together by these grants have the chance to make a major difference in innovative medicine."

Five projects will receive continuing funding for projects initiated during FY09. In making two-year grants, CIMIT seeks to accelerate the research process and impact patient care by assuring funding and facilitation over a two-year period.

Also receiving a third year of funding is the $2.1 million CIMIT Strategic Project in natural orifice translumenal endoscopic surgery (NOTES)--a collaboration for minimally invasive operations that represents clinicians and technologists from three institutions.

Innovation grants awarded
Ten proposals selected for funding in FY10 will receive grants up to $100,000 each. CIMIT grants will go to the principal investigators who are working with clinicians and engineers from institutions other than their own, including:

* Irving Bigio, PhD; BU, validation of colon cancer screening by optical sensing of field effect in rectal mucosa

* Benjamin Vakoc, PhD; MGH, an image-guided laser therapy catheter for Barrett's esophagus

* Seung-Schik Yoo, PhD, MBA; BWH, direct functional brain mapping using image-guided focused ultrasound

* Seok Yun, PhD; MGH, dynamic cross sectional and functional imaging of vocal folds (4D laryngoscopy)

Seed funding for urgent healthcare problems
Nine new collaborations will be supported with grants of up to $40,000 each. These grants will help investigators explore novel approaches in several important areas including the use of optical technologies for diagnosis, epilepsy, trauma, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

"We are determined to help improve healthcare," said John Parrish, MD, executive director of CIMIT. "By supporting promising early-stage research, we are enabling clinicians and engineers to work together to discover new technologies and methods of delivering care." Among recipients of FY10 CIMIT seed grants are:

* Alexandra Golby, MD; BWH, a hybrid optic-electromagnetic surgical tool tip tracking system for neurosurgery

* Robert Redmond, PhD; MGH, a photo-activated nanofiber graft material for enhanced tendon repair

Clinical Systems Innovation Program grants help to improve and advance the systems that support clinical care in real-world healthcare settings. During FY10, two grants of up to $100,000 each will be given to support research improvements in systems operated in clinics or medical centers. One project selected is led by Debra Weiner, MD, PhD, of Childrens Hospital Boston for a handheld simulation procedure training device. The other grant will be made to Meghan Dierks, MD, BIDMC for reshaping systems, processes and controls to optimize outcomes in sepsis.

Accelerating impact with 2-year grants
Five teams will receive second year funding in FY10 to support innovation, including:

* Mehmet Toner, PhD; MGH, A Label-Free Viral Detection Microchip for Point-of-Care Applications

For more information about the CIMIT FY10 Awards see the chart on the CIMIT website.

Posted by Barbara G. Goode,, for BioOptics World.

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