Surgery and engineering initiative offers funds to develop interventional medical devices

The treatment of many diseases and serious health conditions has changed dramatically over the past two decades due to the availability of new interventional medical devices designed to improve health or alter the course of disease. The explosive growth of coronary intervention procedures has been fueled by new devices such as guidewires, angioplasty balloons and stents.

“Although large medical device companies develop successive iterations of existing devices, most new device categories are often developed by venture-backed start-up companies. Typically, a physician or an engineer conceives of a device solution to an unmet clinical challenge,” according to an article about medical device development in the American Heart Association’s online journal, Circulation.

To help Vanderbilt inventors move an idea for a new interventional device to prototype, funding and support are available through a new program within the Vanderbilt Initiative in Surgery and Engineering (ViSE), in partnership with the Vanderbilt Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC) and the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR).

Submissions will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis beginning immediately until May 2013.

“We want to evaluate and develop early-stage ideas, turn them into proof-of-concept interventional device prototypes, with the goal of eventual translation to human clinical use,” said Benoit Dawant, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering, professor of electrical engineering and Director of ViSE.

ViSE will not only provide engineering support to assess an idea, but also offer financial and manpower support to create prototypes for feasible projects.

The first step in the process is to contact ViSE staff member Ray Lathrop , an engineer who will assess the technical feasibility of the idea and provide a budget estimate for a prototype, among other services. He will then provide assistance to submit a formal application for financial support to ViSE.

Submission, review and management of the projects will be handled through VICTR, but the process is customized for ViSE applications.

Dawant expects the ViSE steering committee to consider between 25 and 50 projects. “For those where prototype construction is deemed appropriate, we will provide funding up to a maximum of $4,000 to cover prototyping expenses,” he said.

Funding decisions will be made within approximately two weeks after submission of a request for support.