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Engineering, medicine faculty receive Coulter Awards

A man standing behind a podium gives a speech to the seated crowd.

University of Missouri College of Engineering Dean Jim Thompson speaks at the Coulter Awards recognition ceremony on the MU campus.

The University of Missouri Coulter Translational Partnership Program in late September announced funding for six biomedical research projects, each a collaborative effort by an engineer and a physician. Grant awards are aimed at more quickly moving research innovations from theoretical application to clinical practice.

In his remarks at the awards ceremony, MU Engineering Dean Jim Thompson said MU’s interdisciplinary research efforts are among the best and they serve as an example of what the future holds.

“As an engineer, I think Mr. Coulter would be incredibly impressed by what is happening at MU,” Thompson said. “I congratulate our Coulter team and researchers and believe that the program will have a high impact in both discovery and commercialization relevant to improving heath care.”

The six research innovations chosen in this second round of funding from the $5 million Wallace H. Coulter Foundation partnership monies each received approximately $100,000 for their efforts to move their projects to the marketplace. Selection criteria required projects with great scientific potential, which meet a critical healthcare need. A committee of entrepreneurs, researchers and investors reviews submitted proposals.

Awardees and their projects are:

Sherif El-Gizawy, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and Raja Gopaldas, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the School of Medicine, are collaborating on a device that will filter blood during aortic valve replacement surgery, greatly reducing the patient’s risk of stroke.

Ferris Pfeiffer, assistant professor of bioengineering, and Matthew Smith, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, are perfecting a minimally invasive surgical technique to repair severe rotator cuff shoulder injuries using replacement bone and tendon tissue.

Pfeiffer is also working with James Stannard, chair and J. Vernon Luck Sr. Distinguished Professor of orthopaedic surgery, to develop cartilage transplants that will increase the success rate of surgeries for patients with certain types of diseased joints.

Raghu Kannan, assistant professor of bioengineering, and Gerald Arthur, assistant professor of pathology and anatomical sciences in the School of Medicine, are using nanotechnologies to detect the appropriateness of therapies that target certain cancers.

Sheila Grant, professor of bioengineering, and Richard White, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, are applying their patented technology to increase the success of anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgeries.

Two men speaking to a woman.

John Pardalos, associate professor of child health in the Division of Nenatology, (left) and Sharmik Sengupta, associate professor of bioengineering, give an interview on their research following the Coulter Awards recognition ceremony.

Sharmik Sengupta, associate professor of bioengineering, and John Pardalos, associate professor of child health in the Division of Nenatology, are collaborating to develop a procedure to more quickly identify dangerous blood infections. They have specifically studied sepsis in infants.

In addition to funding awards, the Coulter program connects researchers with research and development experts from private industry and academia. Additionally, research teams receive advice on intellectual property protection, regulatory issues and market opportunities and engage with potential partners for financing and product development.