About Case-Coulter

About the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership

Case Western Reserve University was one of nine universities selected in 2006 by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation (WHCF) for a Translational Research Partnership award. A grant of $4.58 million established the initial five-year phase of the TRP within the Department of Biomedical Engineering. The TRP is a platform to promote translational research and to support collaborative translational research projects to address unmet or poorly met clinical needs. 

An overarching goal of the program is to improve patient care and accelerate the delivery of healthcare technology from academia to the marketplace; of particular interest is research and development work likely leading to commercially relevant translational technologies within a 3-5 year horizon. The TRP typically sponsors between 6-8 "full" collaborative translational research projects (receiving up to $200,000) annually and multiple pilot projects. 

Over the five-year initial period the program at Case Western Reserve helped launch six startup companies and funded 62 translational research activities. Projects often 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.

On November 1, 2011, CWRU and the Coulter Foundation announced the establishment of a $20 million endowment to continue support for the TRP. Among other activities, the day-long endowment celebration featured an award ceremony, media coverage by MedCityNews, and a presentation by Sue Van, president of the Coulter Foundation, to faculty, staff and students.

Translational Research Partnership Model

The Translational Research Partnership program was launched in 2004 by the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. Of the then nearly 100 eligible BME programs across the country, the top nine programs were selected for Phase 1, representing the top-tier biomedical engineering programs in the company. Case Western Reserve University was among this group which also included Boston University, Drexel University, Duke University, Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, University of Washington, and University of Wisconsin.

As of March 31, 2013, with an investment of $70MM, about 280 projects had received at least one year of funding. Thirty-one were licensed to established medical companies. Of 60 start-ups, 55 received VC funding in excess of $900MM and another twenty were seeking funding. The typical project success rate is in excess of 30.7%. Neither geographic location nor research budget were relevant predictors of success. An unanticipated program result was the generation of more than $500MM in additional government funding. While these early results were striking, the program continues to succeed, with projects attracting follow-on funding and seven of the original ten universities have committed to continue this program into perpetuity.

Based on the success of Phase 1 of the program, six additional universities entered the program in Phase 2: Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Louisville, University of Missouri, University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Southern California.

We are pleased to be in our fourth year of Phase 2 of the Translational Research Partnership. Details on the upcoming PY2015 briefing sessions are presented, but please feel free to contact any of the TRP program leadership for more information or a one-on-one meeting.

The Process

TRP is a unique bioengineering initiative addressing unmet clinical needs through translational research. Since project objectives reflect the fundamental goal to improve patient care, TRP projects are structured as collaborative efforts involving co-investigators from CWRU Biomedical Engineering and a clinical department (typically within a school of medicine). Unlike basic research (the creation of new knowledge), translational research is centered more on the practical clinical application of research results. 

Project discussions therefore involve consideration of potential protectable intellectual property, commercialization, product development, marketing, sales, and production. Proposed translational research projects are often quite unlike what BME researchers might typically submit to, say, the National Institutes of Health. The process of project selection, guidance, and mentoring is an important and critical role of the Oversight Committee (OC); membership and stakeholder representation might seem unusual within a typical university “committee” setting, but reflects the unique CCTRP theme.

For more information on the TRP, technology available for licensing or commercialization, awards, project information, or proposal deadlines, you can navigate this site using the menu on the left, or contact the TRP program leadership and we would be pleased to answer any questions you may have!