May 2007

Message From George

Greetings from the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

We are wrapping up another exciting semester with great things happening, from our first senior undergraduates receiving their degrees, to our groundbreaking research in our new building, to our faculty hires, and much more.
We welcome you to visit us this summer. Our new building and labs are busy with cutting-edge research, innovative teaching, and life changing engagement.
Córdova New Purdue President
The 11th president of Purdue University is France A. Córdova, an internationally recoginized astrophysicist and former chief scientist at NASA. UNS has the full story.
Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering endows Purdue with $100 million Alfred Mann Institute for Biomedical Development
The Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering has announced a $100 million gift to endow an Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue University. The university-based institute is designed to enable the commercialization of innovative biomedical technologies that improve human health.

The $100 million endowment is the largest single endowment ever created for Purdue.

"Through Purdue's Alfred Mann Institute for Biomedical Development, we are participating in a new model of university technology transfer for a new century," said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke. "Through the Purdue Research Park, we already have an effective strategy for technology transfer. But we now can enhance our capabilities to meet the growing need to translate our faculty members' discoveries into useful products.

"Our agreement states that preferential consideration will be given to Indiana companies wanting to license the university technologies that are further developed by the Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue. This university-private sector partnership can have a tremendous impact on economic development in Indiana and elsewhere, and on the well-being of people everywhere."

A. Stephen Dahms, Mann Foundation president and CEO, said, "The Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue is the third of a minimum of 12 such institutes that the Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering plans to create at select entrepreneurial research universities by 2012. The first became operational in 2001 at the University of Southern California, and we established the second one in October at the Technion University in Haifa, Israel."

Alfred Mann, who is a successful serial medical device entrepreneur and prominent philanthropist, said his goal is to build a bridge between academia and industry to move these health-related products to doctors and their patients in an accelerated process.

"Through Purdue's Discovery Park and the Purdue Research Park, the university has fostered an interdisciplinary approach to biomedical research that allows for important collaborations between engineering and biomedical sciences," Mann said. "The university's proven track record of interdisciplinary research and its extraordinary academic leadership and entrepreneurial spirit were key in its selection for this partnership."

The institute's agreement is between the Purdue Research Foundation, which oversees the Purdue Research Park, and the Alfred Mann Foundation. The institute will be housed in 30,000 square feet at Purdue's Discovery Park, where researchers use a multidisciplinary approach to advance research.

"Partnering with the Alfred Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering provides an additional avenue to move our inventions from the laboratory, through the commercialization process and to the public," said Joseph Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and COO of the Purdue Research Foundation. "The agreement between the Alfred Mann Foundation and the Purdue Research Foundation is a 50/50 partnership."

The Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue will have a board of 10 directors, composed equally of Purdue and Mann Foundation representatives. Mann, or his designee, will serve as chairman.

The institute will help identify approximately two new biomedical projects per year out of the hundreds at Purdue with commercialization potential, growing to as many as six ongoing projects when in full operation.

"The goal is to increase the likelihood that biomedical technologies are brought to full development with speed and sufficient capital," Mann said. The institute will enhance industry-standard product design and development skills already established at the campus, furthering movement of select intellectual property toward product development. The goal is not only speed but also to substantially enhance the value of those technologies before licensing, sale and spin-out."

The institute is designed to add value through four key phases: intellectual property analysis and project selection, market analysis, product development, and creation of an exit strategy for the technology.

Based on the industry experience of the institute staff and the range of other available consultants with pertinent expertise, the probability of successful commercialization is expected to be significantly increased through these steps.

As part of project selection, a preliminary analysis of the intellectual property will be conducted, focusing on the quality of the science and the perceived markets for the potential product/technology and the freedom to commercialize with regard to other existing intellectual properties.

A market analysis will include clinical assessment of projected end users; analysis of current and emerging competitors; and analysis and review of the intellectual property's position, regulatory strategy, reimbursement landscape, market trends and more.

A product development process that meets industry standards will help ensure that an eventually approvable and cost-effectively manufactured product fits market needs. Faculty at the Indiana University School of Medicine will engage in the research and clinical testing of some of the products.

In addition, the institute's staff and the Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering will have established relationships with outside entities that acquire emerging biomedical technologies. These relationships will provide opportunities for licensing, sale or spin-out of the institute's enhanced biomedical technology.

Royalties and financial returns for technologies transferred through the institute also were negotiated.

"Purdue and the Alfred Mann Foundation worked closely to develop a plan that was fair to all parties involved, including researchers, the university and the foundation," said George Wodicka, professor and head of the Purdue Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

"The product development conducted by the Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue will result in a substantially greater probability of the technologies reaching the market and the patient than if the technologies were handled through the traditional steps used by universities," Dahms said. "Universities that license biomedical technology at the basic research/discovery stage are likely to receive 1 percent of the royalties the product is capable of generating, if and when that product is ultimately commercialized."

Mann predicted that the likelihood of commercialization and rate of return can increase fivefold or more when manufacturing prototypes are completed by the university-based institute. These rates of return can be further increased if transfer to industry occurs closer to the point of Food and Drug Administration approval or certification.

The agreement allows Purdue's other technology transfer routes, such as direct licensing to established companies or early creation of startup companies at the Purdue Research Park.

Biomedical engineering products based on Purdue research

Purdue has a long history of collaborating with companies outside the university.

"We have worked with many Indiana partners, helping to make our state fourth in the nation in the production of medical devices," Wodicka said.

Purdue's medical device partners within Indiana include: Cook Group Inc. in West Lafayette and Bloomington, Hill-Rom Co. in Batesville, DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. in Warsaw, Bioanalytical Systems Inc. in West Lafayette, SonarMed Inc. in Indianapolis, Optical Vitals Inc. in Indianapolis, Zimmer Inc. in Warsaw, Biomet Inc. in Warsaw, Fort Wayne Metals Inc. in Fort Wayne and Suros Surgical Systems Inc. in Indianapolis.

Examples of biomedical engineering technologies that have been developed at Purdue include:

  • New devices that monitor the vital signs of premature babies. The ringlike monitor slips over one finger and uses optical sensors to measure vital signs, including blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates.
  • Synthetic and natural "biomaterials" used in surgery to repair and regenerate diseased or damaged tissues, such as bladders, blood vessels, ligaments, skin and eyes.
  • Longer-lasting artificial joints and novel minimally invasive orthopedic devices.
  • Computer models that simulate the mechanical properties and function of hard and soft tissues to understand the early onset of maladies like stress fractures.

About the Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering

The Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering, based in Valencia, Calif., is a philanthropic organization that establishes university-based institutes to enable and support biomedical product development for the benefit of mankind. The Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering will provide Purdue with a $100 million endowment and additional operating capital.

About Alfred E. Mann

Mann's philanthropic mission is to expedite the delivery of life-improving biomedical products to patients. Mann is chairman and chief executive officer of MannKind Corp. and of Advanced Bionics Corp.; chairman of Second Sight LLC, Bioness Inc., AlleCure Corp., Quallion LLC and Implantable Acoustics; and chairman emeritus of Pacesetter Systems Inc. and MiniMed. All of these companies were founded by Mann. Mann is chairman of the board of directors of the Alfred Mann Foundation for Scientific Research, founded in 1985, and the Alfred Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering, with both nonprofit research organizations devoted to the development of advanced medical products in a variety of fields. Mann is chairman of the boards of directors of the Alfred Mann Institutes for Biomedical Development at the University of Southern California and the Technion University and will serve in the same position for the Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue.

About Purdue Research Foundation and Discovery Park

Purdue's Discovery Park, which was launched in 2001, is a cluster of interdisciplinary research centers designed to connect Purdue faculty, researchers and students from many disciplines on campus for tackling issues in fields such as health care, nanotechnology, alternative energy sources, homeland security, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, cancer treatment, systems engineering, the environment, cyberinfrastructure and innovative learning.

Now a $330 million enterprise, Discovery Park also fosters more Purdue collaboration with industry and researchers from other universities.

The nonprofit Purdue Research Foundation was established in 1930. On behalf of Purdue, the foundation manages gifts, bequests and endowments; makes funding available to faculty, staff and students to aid in scientific investigation, research or educational studies; acquires, constructs and improves Purdue's facilities, grounds and equipment; and manages intellectual property developed at Purdue.

Contributions to Purdue through the foundation result in scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty grants and equipment cost-sharing grants. The foundation owns and manages the Purdue Research Park and several satellite technology incubators. The foundation also acquires real estate for the expansion of the university's main campus in West Lafayette as well as its statewide campuses and agricultural centers.

View the Purdue UNS story.

Faculty Profile - Ozan Akkus

When Ozan Akkus sat down with Purdue University News Service last fall, he had no idea of what was getting ready to unfold. The story on his research into detecting microfractures in bone as they happen, and before they can combine to become major problems for humans and animals, struck a chord around the world. Not only did the story end up published in newspapers around the world, including London's Daily Mail and in magazines including The Futurist, it has caught the attention of both companies and patients. You can hear more about this story in our first podcast posted at the Weldon blog. While you are there, check out the latest post from student blogger Arjun I.

First Student Remembers The Start of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue

It began almost on a whim, but ended with life lessons that continue to impact a life and career. For Dr. Stephen Grubbs, MD, September of 1974 changed his life as the co-op chemical engineering student returned to campus to finish one phase of his education, and to prepare for his medical education at Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia. While looking for a research project to fill some time, he was directed to a new group "that was supposed to be doing something with biomedical engineering" that had just set up in the basement of the electrical engineering building.

"So, I went across the mall, found their offices in the basement of the electrical engineering building, and introduced myself to the secretary who said, well, you know, Dr. Geddes might have something to do for you. So she knocked on his door, and that's how it all started," he said.

That "it" was a pivotal time in many ways. As the first undergraduate student of Dr. Les Geddes, Grubbs was given one-on-one instruction and then launched into research on electrical defibrillation of the heart. That research resulted in a publication in the American Heart Journal, which meant that Grubbs started medical school with a major publication already underway.

"I learned things there that apply to this day as a physician," he says, "So it was just a wonderful experience."

Today, Dr. Grubbs, recipient of the 2007 Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) Community Clinical Scientist Award, is a practicing oncologist and hematologist in Delaware with a practice that sees probably more than half of the cancer cases in the state. He also continues to do research, performing clinical research for the National Cancer Institute, and are considered a model site for bringing new treatments to the community. Grubbs notes that work on prevention and treatment are paying off for the state, with Delaware having one of the fastest dropping cancer death rates in the nation.

He credits his time with Dr. Geddes for helping shape his outlook, describing him as "A man who was bent on getting the job done and working hard, and I think that work ethic and that inquisitiveness is probably the thing I admired the most and have tired to emulate in my years. Always have that inquisitiveness and continue to use your mind, that's the attributes I saw that I tried to incorporate in my years as a physician."

As for the Weldon School and the new biomedical engineering building, "I saw it in the beginning, and I just asked Dr. Geddes did you ever imagine this would all happen? He just was shaking his head saying 'I'm not sure I ever envisioned this.' But what a tremendous facility, what a tremendous program, lots of students that are active and bright... Who would have ever imagined this would have come to this..."

The complete interview, including a tribute to Dr. Geddes and the story of how he got his brother involved in working with Dr. Geddes as well, is available as a podcast on the Weldon Blog.

Arjun Ishwar - A Student's View

Arjun is a senior in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and keeps his hands full with academia, research, extracurricular activities, and even a little fun. Although he is extremely busy with his senior design CPR-Assist project, Arjun maintains a strong role in both the polymers research lab in the Materials Science Department and a biomaterials research lab in the biomedical department under Dr. Alyssa Panitch.

Arjun has completed internships at Fort Wayne Metals (Fort Wayne, Indiana) and Boston Scientific (Spencer, IN) the past two summers. He attributes much of his biomedical growth to the combination of his academic opportunities as well as these two remarkable internships. His future goals include utilizing his passion for research and industry by furthering his education and obtaining a degree in biomaterials before returning to the workforce.

Although difficult to balance academics as well as extracurricular activities, Arjun manages to make a point to be involved both in campus organizations and leisure time activities. Arjun serves on the Purdue Foundation Student Board, a student board that assists in the advancement and further development of Purdue University through interactions with prominent members of the Purdue Community. He was also selected to serve on the Old Masters Central Committee, a program committed to bringing inspirational Purdue alums and other celebrated individuals back to Purdue. For the Weldon School, Arjun serves as an ambassador for the program. In his free time, what little there is, he loves playing and watching sports (especially the World Champion Indianapolis Colts!) as well as enjoying time with his friends.

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