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Seed Grant Opportunities for GTRI Researchers Available from TRIBES

Published: September 13, 2012


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Researchers with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have the ability to contribute to biomedical research with help from a research center located within the Georgia Tech Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME).

The Translational Research Institute for Biomedical Engineering & Science (TRIBES) has been a resource for GTRI researchers to apply for seed grant opportunities for projects that are poised to quickly make the jump from research to commercialization.

On Sept. 21, 2012, TRIBES will seek to increase awareness within the GTRI community by holding a brown-bag lunch information session at the Cobb County Research Facility (CCRF) from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“TRIBES was created in 2010 to help support translational biomedical science and research at Georgia Tech, as well as develop collaborations between researchers, clinicians and industry,” said Maribel Baker, TRIBES research operations program manager. “TRIBES and its associates work on a wide variety of medical device products where physicians, surgeons and other healthcare professionals come together to develop new solutions for unmet clinical needs.”

During its annual Collaborate Workshop in the spring, TRIBES works to specifically recruit GTRI researchers to work with faculty from BME and Emory University. “We seek GTRI faculty from any research area who would like to become more involved in creating medical device solutions to improve patient care,” said Martha Willis, business development director with BME. “To have an impact on human health, laboratory discoveries must be translated into clinical applications. Translational research takes discoveries from ‘bench top to bedside,’ so applied researchers who design products and build prototypes are vital to our mission.”

The TRIBES-GTRI seed grant program is now in its second year. Two projects were awarded funding in 2011, and three collaborative projects received funding in 2012. GTRI researchers Leanne West and Brent Wagner, with GTRI’s Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory (EOSL), have received seed grants for healthcare collaborations with Georgia Tech.

West has teamed with TRIBES director for Education and Outreach and BME Professor of the Practice Franklin Bost on the student-designed Magnetically Assisted Intubation Method and Device (MAID) project. “We have been guiding and helping them through this process to make this commercializable,” West said. “We’ve given them advice on their device.” GTRI also has provided assistance in the mechanical testing of second-generation prototypes in preparation for cadaver and animal evaluation.

Their advice seems to have helped. West and Bost have assisted the team since summer 2011, after they won second place at the 2011 InVenture Prize at Georgia Tech. In March, the team swept the Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition finals, winning a total of $42,500. In April, MAID took first place at both the national Design of Medical Devices Conference in Minnesota and at the Product Development and Management Association’s 2012 Student Competition Awards at Georgia Tech, as well as third place in the National Collegiate Innovators and Inventors Alliance (NCIIA) BMEidea Competition.

“GTRI’s experience with providing internships for Georgia Tech undergraduate students has been an essential benefit to their education,” said TRIBES Director Barbara Boyan. “TRIBES would like to expand this cooperation in training the coming generations of biomedical engineers.

“GTRI has researchers with healthcare industry experience and there are a growing number of biomedical engineers being employed in GTRI laboratories,” Boyan said. “So whether they apply novel signal processing techniques to medical imaging data or use a wireless device to monitor hand sanitizer compliance, GTRI researchers will find a wide range of clinical areas that may be of interest to them through an alliance with us.”

During the upcoming information session, TRIBES will promote its mission to increase interaction and collaboration with teams of scientists, researchers and clinicians and to assist Tech faculty in forming teams to expand researchers’ technology platforms to find healthcare applications.

“GTRI is a well-established global leader in advanced radar and ubiquitous sensor development,” said Shean Phelps, director of Health Systems Technology research and development at GTRI and Health Director of TRIBES. “Teaming with other Georgia Tech units—such as TRIBES—facilitates and applies GTRI’s innovative and customer-focused R&D expertise to new areas, such as the global medical health and device industry.”