A Medical Device Daily

Science Foundation Arizona (SFA; Phoenix), through its Strategic Research Group (SRG) program reported that it is granting nearly $10 million to eight outstanding research collaborations throughout the state. The SRG program was designed to seed major, high-impact collaborations between Arizona researchers and industrial partners.

A requirement of the program is that the industrial partners fully endorse the projects with a one-to-one match. Of the eight programs funded, four are two-year grants of up to $1 million per year and three are one-year awards intended to seed new partnerships. Details on the eighth funded Strategic Research Group will be announced in a few weeks. The research collaborations are wide-ranging and have the potential to have enormous implications for the people of Arizona in the areas of biomedicine, communications technologies and renewable energy.

One example is a collaborative effort between Dr. Jeffrey Cossman, chief scientific officer at the Critical Path Institute and Ventana Medical Systems, (both Tucson, Arizona) to develop personalized medicine to target cancer.

The Arizona-based program could redefine the way the medical industry develops exciting

new products for regulatory approval and use by physicians. The rigorous review process for proposals to the SRG program, as in the other SFA grant programs, was patterned after reviews conducted by federal agencies. Experts in the areas of each proposal conducted mail reviews, followed by the research partners presenting before a full panel of experts in the three strategic areas. Eight exceptional proposals were selected from 28 submissions.

They are:

Jeffrey Cossman, MD, chief scientific officer of The Critical Path Institute, will receive $2,161,000 over two years and will partner with Ventana Medical Systems to establish a standard model system used for the validation of diagnostics in targeted therapy, using lung cancer as the prototype for this model. The diagnostic tests have the potential to guide the choice of targeted therapy so the patient receives the most effective treatment — the essence of “personalized medicine.”

David Galbraith, PhD, professor of Plant Sciences and member of the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona, will receive $2,172,000 over two years to cement a collaboration between High Throughput Genomics (HTG) of Tucson and BIO5 to establish the Chemical Genomics and Translational Research Center (CGTR). The CGTR will utilize an assay developed by HTG to create other applications, leading to clinical development and diagnosis tools.

Anthony Muscat, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Arizona, has established a consortium of collaborators. He will receive a two-year grant of $625,000 to partner with Semiconductor Research Corporation, Intel, Sematech, SEZ America and ASM to develop a sustainable process for the high-volume manufacturing of electronics and photonics.

Robert Penny, PhD, chief operating officer and chief medical officer of the International Genomics Consortium (IGC), will receive $2 million over two years to collaborate with Ameripath on the Expression Project for Oncology (expO). ExpO will utilize the biospecimen research and resources at IGC to create a publicly accessible scientific and information database. In addition to implicating the research for more accurate diagnoses and therapy of cancers, this infrastructure will attract additional medical industries and biotechnology projects to Arizona.

Yong-Hang Zhang, PhD, professor of Electrical Engineering and director of the Center for Nanophotonics at Arizona State University, will receive a one-year grant of $500,000. This Discovery Award will solidify a research collaboration between Zhang’s team members at ASU, UA and several highly experienced industry partners to develop innovative ultrahigh efficiency solar cells using semiconductor nanostructures for electricity generation.

Chieri Kubota, PhD, of University of Arizona and Guy Cardineau PhD, of Arizona State University will receive a planning grant of $50,000 for research to demonstrate controlled-environment production of biopharmaceuticals.

Cun-Zheng Ning PhD of Arizona State University will receive a planning grant of $50,000 to strengthen existing partnerships with the University of Arizona and Motorola with a goal of establishing a federally funded Photonics Research Center with the universities and industry.

Details on the eighth project will be released in the next few weeks.

In other grant news: Smith & Nephew (S&N; London) will give InMotion Musculoskeletal Institute (Memphis, Tennessee) $300,000 over three years to expand the institute’s research capabilities.

In return for the charitable donation, InMotion will name S&N to its list of Founding Funders, those who helped establish the institute. Also, InMotion will grant future naming rights to the company.

“This is an economic stimulus package,” said InMotion executive director Richard Tarr. “These funds will allow InMotion to win future contracts from S&N, as well as other biotechnology companies with an interest in orthopedics.”

InMotion is an independent nonprofit laboratory that aims to improve musculoskeletal treatments and outcomes through translational research. InMotion opened its first laboratory in January 2007 and is recruiting clinician scientists through a joint appointment with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Campbell Clinic (both Memphis).

S&N’s orthopedic reconstruction and orthopedic trauma and clinical therapies divisions are based in Memphis.

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