Tags: technology , research and discovery

This month, Partners awarded $1 million in Innovation Discovery Grants (IDG) to ten researchers within our system. The grant program was created to support breakthrough technologies developed by staff at Partners hospitals, and get those technologies more quickly translated into new devices, drugs or other treatments that can improve patient care.

Partners Vice President of Innovation Christopher Coburn told the Boston Herald, “no matter how great the technology is, if it doesn’t turn into a medical product, in this case, it’s not going to get out to people.” He added, “We could not be more enthusiastic for the opportunity to help patients and to further fuel the growth of the Boston regional economy.”

The therapies from this year’s recipient list come from some of the most promising areas of medicine and research, including the microbiome, immunoncology, remote cardiac monitoring, and obesity reduction.

No matter how great the technology is, if it doesn’t turn into a medical product, in this case, it’s not going to get out to people.

In an article from the Boston Herald, Dr. Lynn Bry, a pathologist at Brigham and Women’s, and Dr. Jay Austen, chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at MGH, were featured for their grant-winning work.

Dr. Bry received a grant for her research on the microbiome, the vast collection of microorganisms living within the human gut that is being increasingly linked to our overall health, including the treatment of cancer. Dr. Austen received a grant for his work in developing a technology that would use 200-micron small needles to prevent biopsy scars.

“These are some of the most promising opportunities across the considerable breadth of cutting edge research among our 3500 faculty and our $1.5 billion research initiative” said Anne Klibanski MD, Partners Chief Academic Officer.  “This funding can help build an even stronger connection between the ideas of our scientists and Boston’s booming biotech and life sciences industry, which can bring these ideas to life.”

The 2016 awards were selected from 219 initial proposal submissions. The full 2016 awardee list is as follows:

  • Vishal Vaidya, PhD, BWH Nephrology, who has identified a protein the suppression of which has halted the progression of kidney fibrosis in mice.
  • Howard Weiner, MD BWH Neurology, who has come up with a new antibody that fine-tunes the immune response and may serve as a potent anti-tumor drug.
  • Lynn Bry, MD, PhD BWH Pathology, who has cultivated communities of gut microbes that can alter the immune response to prevent or treat food allergies.
  • Blaise Frederick, PhD McLean Psychiatry, who has created a device to monitor, in a non-invasive way, the response to treatment of peripheral artery disease.
  • Elizabeth Lawson, MD MGH Medicine, who has developed a sustained-release formation, applied under the skin, of the hormone oxytocin for use as a weight-loss therapy.
  • Michael Mannstadt, MD MGH Medicine, who has devised a long-acting hormone-replacement therapy for people with hypoparathyroidism, a condition in which the body secretes abnormally low levels of a hormone important in maintaining necessary calcium and phosphorus levels.
  • Casey Maguire, PhD MGH Neurology, who has come up with a gene therapy platform that could help congenital hearing loss.
  • Kristian Olson, MD MGH Medicine, who has created a low-cost, battery-free umbilical cord clamp, called the EveryBaby Clamp, which detects newborns’ heart rates and can rapidly determine if a newborn should be resuscitated by positive pressure ventilation.
  • Jay Austen, MD MGH Plastic Surgery, who has created a device that obtains more information and produces less disfigurement while taking biopsies of skin lesions.
  • Michael Mansour, MD, PhD MGH Personalized Medicine, who has devised a technology that produces and allows for the transfusion of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.

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