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A Culture of Entrepreneurship

More than 100 issued and active U. S. patents are derived from research at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, with 45 currently licensed to industry partners. Royalties from these patents represent the largest single royalty stream to the university, providing in total more than $15 million to support improvements, initiatives, and reward faculty and staff inventors.

Medical products and procedures derived from Purdue inventions have had a significant impact on patient care and quality of life, and have catalyzed growth in a number of companies, creating synergistic academic-industrial partnerships.  A key example is the xenogeneic bioscaffold technology, or SIS technology, manufactured by Indiana’s own Cook Biotech and DePuy and sold in the clinical market for a variety of wound care and surgical applications.

Another creative partnership with GE Healthcare has solidified Weldon’s impact on international healthcare.  Building on MRI safety studies in biomedical engineering at Purdue, GE was able to drastically improve their MRI systems in the 1990’s through reduced patient scan times and improved imaging fidelity. More recent research at the Weldon School has led to image reconstruction algorithms that are the technological basis for the next generation of GE CT scanners, reducing X-ray dosage by a factor of 3 to 4 while nearly doubling the imaging resolution.  In 2007, a joint effort with GE Healthcare, the Purdue Imaging Center, was created. The Imaging Center houses state-of-the-art GE Signa HDx 3.0T MRI technology, allowing for unprecedented collaborative research and development between researchers, technology developers, and clinicians addressing key problems, as well as creating a multitude of technology translation opportunities. 

A key component to the Weldon School’s successes in technology translation is its commitment to moving discoveries into prototypes and through preclinical testing through strategic intramural partnerships, such as the long-term partnership with the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine.  This past year, the two schools completed the construction of an expanded clinical research laboratory that includes an array of surgery suites for a wide variety of protocols and procedures. A translation pipeline is being expanded through centers in Purdue’s Discovery Park, including the Bindley Bioscience Center and the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, in which biomedical engineering faculty both lead and actively participate.  

In addition, many biomedical engineering faculty members have founded companies in the Purdue Research Park based upon the application of technologies discovered in their laboratories to meet market and clinical needs.  These companies specialize in a variety of health industry challenges, notably drug-delivery (Akina), spinal cord repair (Andara Life Sciences), and critical care (SonarMed).

Numberous Weldon School faculty members are intimately involved with the Indiana University School of Medicine in the clinical evaluation of new technologies discovered and developed in their laboratories, including a number of new approaches to limit the extent of nerve injury and repair nerve damage.

Further expansion of our engineering - medicine links are being made possible through the rapid growth of our combined MD/PhD program with the Indiana University School of Medicine. This summer, the highly-competitive program received a five-year, $1.25 million Medical Scientist Training Program award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This prestigious award recognizes both the quality and potential of this unique program that trains the next generation of physician engineers. 

This NIH support and recognition was announced shortly after the creation of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), a medical research initiative supported by a $25 million grant from the NIH that will combine the strengths of Purdue and the Indiana University School of Medicine, businesses and government to swiftly transform discoveries into better patient care and business opportunities.