Samira Sayeh

Samira Sayeh, assistant professor of French and Italian, specializes in Francophone literature and culture and the history of countries other than France that speak the language. Read More

KU lands $8.1M grant to establish medical innovation center

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has announced an $8.1 million grant to KU to establish the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation, a unique life science proof-of-concept model that draws support from higher education, philanthropy and industry experts to move medical innovations from the lab to the market. To enhance the impact of the Kauffman Foundation’s support, KU Endowment will match the grant through contributions from other donors.

The Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation will focus on education and research that advances medical innovations, ultimately accelerating the number and quality of new drugs, medical devices and drug–medical device combinations from the bench to the bedside. The grant earmarks funding for the Institute for Pediatric Innovation, which funnels its drug development work through a partnership with KU, Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospital and Beckloff Associates Inc. The institute will be guided by an advisory board of independent experts and staffed by experienced drug development and medical device leaders to create an unprecedented collaboration of resources and processes to support the institute.

“The institute’s formation represents lessons we have culled from years of studying the models that strengthen the ability to bring new inventions and products to market,” said Carl Schramm, Kauffman Foundation president and CEO. “We believe this institute will become a world-class resource and help define best practices in moving innovation to the real world.”

The grant includes seed funds for up to 24 proof-of-concept projects per year. Based upon the recommendations from the advisory board, the institute may progress with a varying number of projects from year-to-year. Institute for Pediatric Innovation already has identified three drug projects, which will be accelerated by the institute during the next 12 months.

“We are honored to receive this grant from the Kauffman Foundation to enhance and streamline the incredible efforts taking place at the University of Kansas in discovery and development of medical innovations,” said Scott Weir, director of the Office of Therapeutics, Discovery and Development at the KU Cancer Center. Weir, a 20-year pharmaceutical industry veteran formerly with Marion Laboratories Inc., will head up the institute as its director. He also serves on the Institute for Pediatric Innovation’s Pharmaceutical Advisory Board and leads KU’s pediatric drug development efforts in support of the Institute for Pediatric Innovation’s mission. Weir joined KU almost three years ago to help the university’s efforts to achieve National Cancer Institute designation, assuming a role partially funded by the Kauffman Foundation. “These funds will allow us to advance discoveries of drugs, medical devices and drug-device combinations from concept to patients, allowing us to make a greater impact on the health of our community.”

In addition to its impact in the medical field, the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation will serve as a national model for how philanthropy, industry and universities can collaborate to advance university innovations in life sciences.

“The University of Kansas and Kauffman Foundation share a commitment to innovation and a mission of service to the community,” said Chancellor Robert Hemenway. “This generous grant will help us find new treatments and cures and get them to the patients who need them. Lives will be changed and the health of our region and nation improved as a result of the work that will take place at the institute.”

The grant also will enable expert faculty to educate the next class of drug and medical device development specialists by giving workshops and courses on the drug commercialization process.

“It’s gratifying for us at KU Endowment to help the university advance the frontiers of knowledge,” said Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment. “We’re proud to partner with the Kauffman Foundation and look forward to attracting other donors to provide funding for this institute, which represents an unparalleled training opportunity for KU graduate and post-doctoral students.”

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