UH News

Department of Neurological Surgery Plays Pivotal Role in Endowment Creation

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Department of Neurological Surgery, two its residents and Department Chairman Warren R. Selman, MD, are credited with playing a key role in the creation of $20 million endowment that supports the translation of ideas that address unmet medical needs into treatments and devices that improve human health.

Case Western Reserve University and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation jointly created the endowment after the foundation’s original $4.8 million partnership grant, which funded projects at the university from 2006 to 2011. The new endowment will enable the Wallace H. Coulter Translational Research Partnership program at Case Western Reserve to continue in perpetuity.

Jeffrey L. Duerk, PhD, Chairman of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve. University recently lauded that the generosity and support provided by the Department of Neurological Surgery to Coulter-Case Translational Research Partnership.

Current Resident Alia Hdeib, MD, and former resident Fahd Khan, MD, helped the Department of Biomedical Engineering to successfully establish the Coulter Translational Research Endowment. Dr. Hdeib currently serves as Chief Medical Officer/Assistant Coulter Program Director. Dr. Khan previously held this post. The Coulter Foundation program at Case noted in its final decision that Case Western Reserve University had three distinctive features in comparison to the other 9 programs nationwide:

1)     Chief Medical Officer

2)     Endowment for the Program Director position

3)     Engagement of the University President in the program

“While my team was able to manage the process and provide leadership, it was Dr. Selman’s vision in allowing a resident to take a flyer and participate in the program that was ultimately identified as a central distinctive feature of our program, highlighting our recognition of the need for physicians to be imbedded in the program,” Duerk said.

Case Western Reserve University was one of only nine universities in the United States selected to participate in the Coulter Foundation’s Translational Research Partnerships in Biomedical Engineering, and one of only six to receive endowment funding; the others are Drexel University, Duke University, University of Michigan, Stanford University and University of Virginia. The generous initial grant of $4.8 million from the foundation was bolstered in 2009 with $2.25 million in private gifts to the university from anonymous donors. The program at Case Western Reserve has helped launch six startup companies and has funded 62 translational research projects to date. Such projects range across a broad spectrum of biomedical disciplines—from advanced imaging technology techniques to thermally-stable insulin development—and each is founded on an active collaboration between a biomedical engineering researcher and a practicing clinician.

The Coulter Process helped to advance Case Western Reserve’s translational efforts by providing one model for how to quickly and efficiently turn bioengineering research into medical products and clinical practices.

The Coulter grants work differently than those from the National Institutes of Health and other federal research agencies. “The Coulter Process more closely resembles a business model,” said Duerk. “The projects have quarterly milestones and can be shelved by the oversight committee if milestones are not met. This is not standard practice for academic grants. With the Coulter Process, there is strong emphasis on the successful transfer to commercialization.”

Seven of the partnership projects have resulted in a license to either a regional start-up company or an existing firm, said Joseph Jankowski, PhD, Case Western Reserve’s associate vice president for technology management. “Each of these outcomes is exciting in that it represents an external for-profit assuming the continued commercialization and funding activities for a program originally launched through the collaboration. In several cases, the projects have become the focus of multi-million dollar investments from private capital sources.”

“We are really pleased with our progress and results,” added Colin Drummond, PhD, director of the Coulter-Case Translational Research Partnership. “We have shown that the Coulter Process works in academia. We are pleased to move forward with this generous additional support.”

Case Western Reserve’s biomedical engineering department is a joint department of the Case School of Engineering and the School of Medicine.

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