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Southern California Wireless Health Innovators Win Funding for Inventions

San Diego, CA, May 12, 2011 -- Southern California researchers working on wireless health technologies recently won commercialization support and research funding through the TATRC/Qualcomm Wireless Health Innovation Challenge. The awards will support UC San Diego work on artificial retinas made from nanowires, a UCLA system that helps people re-learn to walk after a traumatic injury, and USC tools that enable doctors to monitor and modify – from afar – drugs administered by infusion pumps.

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The UC San Diego project focuses on the design of a retinal implant that would replace the function of degenerated photoreceptors by detecting light and properly stimulating neurons in the retina.

The TATRC/Qualcomm Wireless Health Innovation Challenge aims to nurture and accelerate the commercialization of selected wireless health technologies developed in Southern California that have the greatest potential to improve healthcare delivery to U.S. military personnel and their families. The year-long program is hosted by the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering with its program sponsors, the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and Qualcomm Wireless Health.

Over the next twelve months, winners of the program will receive up to $92,000 to conduct proof of concept studies, technology development and preliminary market research to determine the commercial feasibility of their technologies. The teams will also receive mentoring assistance from the von Liebig Center’s Technology and Business advisors to help advance their technologies toward commercialization. The three projects representing three different universities in Southern California were selected out of 45 applications from ten universities and research institutes.  

An expert review panel composed by representatives from the sponsor organizations, leading experts in wireless health and military medicine assisted in the selection of the projects -- based on medical and military relevance, commercial potential for non-military applications, and team qualifications. 

"We are very pleased with the great response and quality of the applications that we received,” said Dr. Rosibel Ochoa, director of the von Liebig Center at UC San Diego. “The winning research teams will receive a combination of proof-of-concept grants from our partners and business mentoring services from the von Liebig Center. This support increases the likelihood that their technologies will translate into improved health care products and services for the U.S. military, their families and the general public."

The TATRC/Qualcomm Wireless Health Innovation Challenge awardees are:

·         Ultra-High Photosensitivity Vertical Nanowire Arrays for Retinal Prosthesis

The team is led by Dr. Massoud Khraiche, a postdoctoral fellow in the Systems Neural Engineering and Theoretical Neuroscience lab run by Professor Gabriel Silva in the Department of Bioengineering in the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. The project focuses on the design of a retinal implant that would replace the function of degenerated photoreceptors by detecting light and properly stimulating neurons in the retina. This retinal prosthesis technology will produce a minimally invasive wireless implant with low power consumption and reduced damage to tissue. The project is from the Retina Engineering Center (REC) http://iem.ucsd.edu/documents/REC.pdf, part of the UCSD Institute of Engineering in Medicine. The REC collaborators at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering include Professors Gabriel Silva and Gert Cauwenberghs from the Department of Bioengineering, and Professors Deli Wang and Yu-Hwa Lo from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Professor E.J. Chichilnisky at the Salk Institute and William Freeman, MD, professor of ophthalmology and director of the Jacobs Retina Center at the UC San Diego Shiley Eye Center are also on the team.

·        Auxiliary Haptic Feedback on Gait Training & Activities of Daily Living

The team is led by Richard Fan, Ph.D., a graduate of UCLA Biomedical Engineering, and a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of General Surgery in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The team will integrate sensors and the architecture of a Medical Daily Activity Wireless Network to enable remote patient monitoring outside the lab during activities of daily living. This work will allow the real-world evaluation of a sensory feedback system designed to improve recovery from injuries related to lower-limb sensory loss

 ·          Wireless Electronic Drug Infusion Pumps for Telemedicine

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Professor Ellis Meng, Ph.D., Biomedical and Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering

The team is led by Professor Ellis Meng, Ph.D., Biomedical and Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering.  This team will develop and test an implanted drug delivery device connected to a wireless network by an external controller for remote monitoring and modification of drug dosage levels. The infusion pumps can allow physicians to track compliance and control of drug delivery regimens in patients remotely.

“The Challenge awardees are pioneering new breakthroughs in health science that could significantly benefit the U.S. military community,” said Don Jones, vice president of wireless health strategy and market development at Qualcomm Labs.  “Qualcomm is pleased to help enable these important research projects, which align closely with our goal of speeding the diagnosis, treatment and self-management of health conditions via cellular wireless networks.”

About The TATRC/Qualcomm Wireless Health Innovation Challenge
The von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering, together with its sponsors, the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and Qualcomm Wireless Health, is pleased to announce the Wireless Health Innovation Challenge.  Program partners also include the UCSD Institute of Engineering in Medicine (IEM), UCSD Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) and the Wireless-Life Science Alliance.  This regional initiative provides funding and business mentoring services to selected Southern California university and research institute faculty and graduate student researchers who are developing novel technologies (inventions) in the field of wireless healthcare.  This year-long program is intended to nurture and accelerate commercialization of those technologies that have the greatest potential to improve healthcare delivery to U.S. military personnel and their families.  The military community shares many of the same problems that affect health management for the general population, but also has unique needs, first within the combat theater, and secondly, in the ongoing care of severely wounded and traumatized combat personnel.

This Wireless Health Innovation Challenge is being conducted by the William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement, in collaboration with Qualcomm Wireless Health, through a cooperative agreement that was awarded and administered by the U.S. Army Medical Research & Materiel Command (USAMRMC) and the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), at Fort Detrick, MD under Contract Number: W81XWH0420025.

About Qualcomm Wireless Health
Qualcomm Wireless Health, a business initiative of Qualcomm Labs Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, helps companies in the medical device, pharmaceutical, health appications/services and fitness industries to create new connected health solutions and business models while improving quality of life for people everywhere.  Qualcomm’s innovations in enabling tiny, wireless biosensors, wireless medical devices, and comprehensive and secure managed network services are redefining modern medicine, fitness and personal health management by improving communication between doctors and patients, empowering consumers to take charge of their own health, and placing Every Body on the Net (sm).

About the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center
The William J. von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement was created 10 years ago to develop models that would accelerate the development of the earliest stage technologies.  By developing proof of concept technology acceleration programs, the Entrepreneurism Center has been recognized as a model for commercialization of University discoveries. Graduate students and professors are encouraged to participate in upcoming technology acceleration programs to refine the strategy for developing their inventions for increased chance of successful commercialization.  The von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center provides visibility for inventors, industry and partners into what causes successful innovation and technology development.  Through programs and services, the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center offers experiences that provide education, networking and resources.  Visit www.vonliebig.ucsd.edu to learn more.

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