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New initiative may benefit entrepreneurs working to transform patient care

New initiative may benefit entrepreneurs working to transform patient care

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Entrepreneurs working to improve the lives and promote the independence of patients may soon benefit from an initiative run by the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2).

A joint partnership between UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School in Worcester, M2D2 is a business incubator that helps medical-device and biotech startups bridge the gap between idea and market.

Supported by a $7.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), M2D2 will establish a new center to assist inventors pioneering promising new point-of-care devices and technologies for patients with heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders. Innovations aim to help patients with these health concerns better manage their well-being wherever they are, seeking to reduce in-patient hospital stays and improve quality of life.

Taken together, heart, lung and blood diseases account for 41 percent of deaths in the United States and lead to more than $400 billion in health-care expenses and lost income to patients and caregivers, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Fact Book for Fiscal Year 2012. Innovations supported by the center will be devices and technologies well on their way to going to market.

The new initiative, called the Center for Advancing Point-of-Care Technologies (CAPCaT), will be driven by the talent and aspirations of participating entrepreneurs, along with the expertise of scientists, business developers, legal experts and resources available at UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School in collaboration with industry partners. The center is one of four being launched with support from the NIH to help revolutionize patient care and will provide entrepreneurs with seed funding and access to an array of stakeholders including patients, caregivers and clinicians.

“Our partnership with UMass Medical School and the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is innovative and exciting. We are energized by the opportunity to continually reimagine and grow the medical and biotech industries to help improve people’s lives,” said Steven Tello, a member of M2D2’s executive board and UMass Lowell’s vice provost of innovation and workforce development. “The incubator will be a home base for startups advancing new point-of-care medical technologies and devices that will transform health care.”

Examples of innovations to be developed at the center include portable devices and sensors that measure the amount of medication in a patient’s blood, products that use smart devices to record heart or respiratory rates and technologies that alert patients to health changes such as worsening asthma. The center also seeks to support technologies that promote holistic methods to managing diseases, including devices that measure stress levels or promote mindfulness.

“The new center will address the urgent need to bring to market medical technologies and devices that can be used to provide fast, accurate information to patients anywhere they are, empowering them to better monitor their conditions and get on with their daily lives,” said M2D2 Founder and Director Stephen McCarthy, chairman of UMass Lowell’s Biomedical Engineering Department, who will co-direct CAPCaT.

Entrepreneurs working on innovations that are close to being tested in clinical settings are invited to apply to join the new center. Applicants may be physicians, doctorate-level faculty from any U.S. college or university, or an officer of a small business based within the United States. Successful applicants will receive seed funding and the support of M2D2’s medical, business and legal experts; professionals in the private sector; and staff from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Entrepreneurs, engineers, inventors and scientists interested in more information should email [email protected]

“The new business accelerator will facilitate collaborations between faculty researchers and private industry to commercialize new technologies more quickly and efficiently. The goal of these new tools is to help clinicians and health-care systems deliver higher quality care at a lower cost,” said M2D2 Co-Director Nate Hafer, Ph.D., who is also director of operations at the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science at UMass Medical School.

The new center plans to open inside M2D2 at UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School by the end of the year. Members of the CAPCaT team include Associate Prof. Ainat Koren of UMass Lowell’s Solomont School of Nursing and UMass Lowell Professor Emeritus of Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences Eugene Rogers in UMass Lowell’s Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences.

M2D2’s support of medical device startups in Massachusetts has contributed $42 million in direct economic impact with a total positive effect of $75 million and 370 jobs, according to a 2015 report by the UMass Donahue Institute. Targeted expansion of these efforts through CAPCaT and M2D2 is expected to increase this impact, according to Tello.

“The center will bring the tremendous talent at UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School together to provide a strong infrastructure for technology development, both inside and outside our institutions, to help transform the regional economy and enhance care and outcomes for patients with heart, lung and sleep disorders,” said David McManus, M.D., ScM, cardiologist and co-director of the Center for Data Driven Discovery at UMass Medical School who is co-leading the project with McCarthy.

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