Coulter Grant Spurs Biomedical Innovations

Columbia University has been selected to join the prestigious Wallace H. Coulter Foundation’s Translational Partnership program. This highly coveted partnership, aimed at accelerating innovations toward clinical use and patient care, will establish the Columbia-Coulter Translational Research Partnership, under the leadership of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia Engineering.

Through a rigorous, project management approach, known as the “Coulter Process”, the program will jumpstart the translation and development of biomedical technologies arising from engineering-clinical collaborations at Columbia.  The idea is to facilitate technology commercialization by “de-risking” the process that brings biomedical innovations to what Coulter defines as a “critical endpoint,” in order to attract the commitment of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry partners.

The program will deploy $5 million of funding over five years—two-thirds from the Foundation, one-third from Columbia—to projects with the highest chances of achieving a successful outcome, defined by the Foundation as a license of the technology to a commercial partner with the resources and expertise to bring the technology to market. The program will focus exclusively on the commercialization of medical devices, diagnostics, and healthcare IT.

The program is led by the Department of Biomedical Engineering (Andreas H. Hielscher, PhD, Principal Investigator), in close collaboration with Columbia Technology Ventures (Donna See, Director) and the Departments of Surgery (Dennis Fowler, MD MPH, Clinical PI), Orthopedic Surgery (William Levine, MD, Clinical Liaison), and Radiology (Chaitan Divgi, MD, Clinical Liaison) at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“We are extremely pleased to have been invited to participate in the Coulter Transitional Partnership,” said G. Michael Purdy, Executive Vice President for Research at Columbia University. “The support and expertise that will be provided by the program will help us realize the full potential of technology translation in the biomedical engineering arena. We look forward to working with the foundation on this important goal.”

“The Coulter Foundation’s process to speed innovations made by our faculty through the development pipeline truly synergizes with the mission of Columbia Engineering,” said Feniosky Peña-Mora, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University. “The Translational Research Partnership will provide critical support to ensure the advances developed in our biomedical engineering laboratories today will quickly be translated into the highest level of patient care tomorrow.”

“Interdisciplinary programs like the ones we will be creating with our colleagues across Columbia often can streamline the path from basic research to clinical advances,” said Lee Goldman, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University. “We expect that this work will lead to both valuable technology and meaningful advances in health care.”

The Coulter Translational Partnership has been very successful—through its first phase, the Foundation has funded more than 200 collaborative projects at ten universities. Twenty-four of these projects have resulted in licenses to established industrial partners, and 28 projects have served as the basis for start-ups, which, altogether, have raised more than $150 million in professional investment and several hundred million dollars in governmental funding. For more information about the program and how to participate visit the program’s webpage at

UPDATE September 17, 2012 -- Andreas Hielscher, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology (Physics), and Electrical Engineering, was the principal investigator of Columbia’s application to Coulter and led the program over the past year. This role will now transition to Andrew Laine, the newly appointed Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Percy K. and Vida L. W. Hudson Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Radiology (Physics).

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