A Medical Device Daily

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH; Washington) yesterday reported it has received a three-year, $7.6 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to continue its efforts to ensure Americans will have a high quality, accountable and adequately funded 21st century public health system that serves all Americans and helps them lead healthier lives.

The grant will fund the launch of “A Healthier America” project to help create a vision and agenda for protecting the health of families and communities all around the nation.

Over the next three years and against the backdrop of national elections and a new administration, TFAH said it will work with a broad coalition of partners to advance a vision and establish a blueprint for how to modernize the public health system.

The grant will also help support TFAH to continue ongoing efforts toward improving U.S. health and preparedness by communicating and educating policymakers and the public, promoting the benefits of a modern public health system, developing reports and studies on the most important issues facing Americans’ health, and improving the quality of health information available online.

Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. The Robert Wood Johnson is a philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and healthcare.

Idaho State University (ISU; Pocatello, Idaho) reported receiving an $842,000 grant from the Department of Defense to develop a prosthetic hand that, rather than simply being attached, will be implanted and provide a sense of touch and temperature sensation by converting impulses sent to and from the brain.

“The existing commercial technology for arm and hand amputees hasn’t changed significantly in the past six decades,” said D. Subbaram Naidu, an engineering professor at the school who is leading the project. “The Department of Defense is embarking on a research program to fund prosthetic research to revolutionize upper-body prosthetics and to develop artificial arms that will feel, look and perform like a real human arm guided by the central nervous system.”

The “Smart Prosthetic Hand Technology” program has three phases. The grant received in July by the school covers the first 18-month, theoretical phase.

Other ISU professors also are working on the project. Marco Schoen will measure signals from the brain that control muscles, and Naidu will convert those to signals to control the prosthetic hand. A prototype will be built by Alba Perez.

There are significant challenges to the project, said James Lai, associate director of ISU’s Biomedical Research Institute. He and Solomon Leung, an engineering professor, are examining biological effects of implanting the prosthetic hands.

“We will examine how to bypass the tissue rejection problem that has occurred when trying to attach a prosthetic device,” Lai told the Idaho State Journal. “We’ll use this study as a potential springboard to other possible research in tissue engineering and the creation of artificial organs.”

Lai said a prototype hand could be ready for human testing in five years.

In contract offerings: Patient Safety Technologies (PST; Los Angeles) reported that the “Facility” (Chicago) medical teaching complex entered into a contract to use SurgiCount Medical’s (Temecula, California) Safety-Sponge System, a computer-assisted counting system. The company said it anticipated that the Facility’s decision to fully implement the Safety-Sponge System in all of its operating rooms will generate from $250,000 to $300,000 in recurring annual revenues. SurgiCount is subsidiary of PST and is a developer of patient safety products and services.

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