Over a five-year period, institutions will contribute $333,000 per year, with the rest coming from Coulter.

The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation is forming a translational research partnership with four University of Southern California (USC) institutions. The new program aims at increasing the number of collaborations between biomedical engineers and clinicians.

Coulter has selected the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Keck School of Medicine of USC, the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, and the Los Angeles Basin Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) to participate in the Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program. The USC institutions and the CTSI will chip in $333,000 toward the program’s $1 million annual cost, with the remaining $667,000 coming from Coulter. The program will run for five years.

The foundation invited USC Viterbi’s Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) to apply for the program based on its number of successful applicants to the Coulter Translational Research Awards. USC’s BME department was one of six such departments from across the country invited to attend the launch of the program in Las Vegas in February.  Based on its performance at the launch, the USC was selected by Coulter to participate in the program.

“The program will contribute to solving pressing societal health issues,” says Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of USC Viterbi. “It also fits well with the strategic plan of our BME Department, the Viterbi School of Engineering, and complements the university’s vision to support interdisciplinary and translational research.”

Norberto Grzywacz, Ph.D., professor and chair of the BME department, led the collaborative effort as its principal investigator (PI), along with co-PIs Thomas A. Buchanan, M.D., CTSI director and professor of medicine, obstetrics, and gynecology and associate dean of clinical research at the Keck School; and Krisztina Z Holly, vice provost for innovation and executive director of USC Stevens. The team also included Richard Hull, Ph.D., senior director for new ventures and alliances at USC Stevens.

“This program harnesses critical gap funding, expertise, and focus to move USC’s breakthrough biomedical engineering ideas into positive societal impact,” Holly notes.

The first co-directors of the program are Juan Felipe Vallejo, director of innovation development at USC Stevens; and Christine Matheson from the CTSI’s Center for Scientific Translation. An Oversight Committee will consist of Grzywacz, Buchanan, and Holly, as well as four additional researchers. Another three members of the Oversight Committee will be venture capitalists, active life science angel investors, or entrepreneurs with substantial experience in the medical device/diagnostic or life science industry.

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