A medical technology consortium
focused on moving innovation to the marketplace has announced $400,000 in a
second round of grants to Dallas-Fort Worth area researchers in critical health
The four awards from Texas
Medical Research Collaborative carry $100,000 each and will propel research in
the areas of digestive disorders, prevention of diabetic ulcers, non-invasive
blood sugar readings and early diagnosis of childhood autism.
TxMRC was founded in 2009 as a collaborative
research partnership among The University of Texas at Arlington, The University
of Texas at Dallas, Texas Instruments, Texas Health Research & Education
Institute, the research and medical education arm of Texas Health Resources,
and the University of North Texas Health Science Center. The Arlington Chamber
of Commerce’s Center for Innovation manages the partnership.
The annual grants are intended
jumpstart research that can solve real-world problems and develop new
technologies in a relatively short time frame. Grant recipients work with
representatives of the consortium's academic, industry and health care partners
to develop pilot programs aimed at attracting sustained funding from external
sources, such as federal, state or private agencies.
Clinical work on the projects
generally takes place at Texas Health hospitals and other facilities, including
the Texas Health Minimally Invasive Technology Center on the campus of Texas
Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
“These are technologies that can
drive better health care with lower
costs,” said Ron Elsenbaumer, UT Arlington vice president for research
and federal relations. “Seeing innovation
develop through collaborative efforts like this is a core strength of
Shekar Rao, the executive director
of TxMRC, and vice president and Chief Technology Officer at the Center for Innovation,
said at the end of one year, researchers must show that their project can deliver
“Early stage funding of
university innovation is critical,” Rao said. “These projects are selected on
the basis of their relevance to market needs. Since they have to deliver a working
prototype, the deals are de-risked for the next level of funding from angel
investors and venture capitalists.”
Rao added that the collaboration
among various entities in the DFW area will spur growth in the North Texas medical device industry.
Allen Bowling, manager of
research & consortia for the Analog Technology Development group at Texas
Instruments, said the consortium affords Texas Instruments an opportunity to
collaborate with engineering research professors and medical clinicians on
applications of electronics to key medical-care needs.
“The cross-collaboration of
professors from the two engineering schools at UT Arlington and UT Dallas, who
have knowledge of engineering solutions, coupled with medical-care physicians,
who have knowledge of high-impact medical-care needs, has made this a unique
and outstanding interaction with great opportunities for commercialization,”
“This collaboration brings top minds in medicine, engineering, computer
technology and research together,” said Marsha Brown, director of research
development at Texas Health Research & Education Institute. “It helps
prepare researchers for applying for the next level of national funding. The
end result should be clinical applications that bring technology to the bedside
The 2011 research award
- J.-C. Chiao, UT Arlington electrical engineering
associate professor and principal investigator, for “A Wireless Micro
Gastro-Stimulator for Treatment of Severe Gastric Dysmotility.” Chiao’s team
will determine whether tiny electrical stimulations can enable cancer patients
who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments to more easily digest food.
Dereje Agonafer, a
professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering, is the co-principal
investigator. Hoi Lee and Jin Liu from UT Dallas also are co-PIs as well. The team includes Dr. Rajeev Jain of Presbyterian
Hospital, a part of the medical staff of
Texas Health Dallas.
- Haiying Huang, associate professor of mechanical
and aerospace engineering, for “Embedding Passive Wireless Shear/Pressure
Sensors in Shoes for Diabetic Foot Diagnostic and Ulcer prevention.” Huang’s co-principal
investigator is Bhaskar Banerjee from UT Dallas. The team includes Dr. Matthew Pompeo of the
medical staff of Texas Health Dallas and Dr. Travis Motley of the University of
North Texas Health Science Center.
The team proposed to customize shoes with a passive wireless
sensor array that measures shear and pressure forces simultaneously at the same
location. The aim is to pinpoint where foot ulcers begin for diabetic patients
and to stop them before they progress to the point where amputation is
- Walter Hu, UT Dallas associate prof of
electrical engineering, for “Non-Invasive Salivary Diagnostics of Diabetes
Using Sensitive Nanoelectric Biosensor Strips.” Hu’s team includes UNTHSC
researchers Paul Bowman, Nusrath Habiba and Kimberly Fulda. The project aims to
develop a reliable system that diabetics can use to test their blood sugar with
a lick of a strip. Now, diabetics must prick fingers and collect blood sample
for an accurate reading.
- Dan Popa, UT Arlington associate professor of
electrical engineering, and Nicoleta Bugnariu, a UNTHSC associate professor,
for creating a human robot interaction system, which will be used for early
diagnosis and treatment for children suffering from autism spectrum disorders.
Visit http://www.uta.edu/research/UTA-UTD-TI-THRE-jointprogram.htm to find out more about the Texas Medical Research
The University of Texas at
Arlington is a comprehensive research institution in the heart of North Texas.
Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
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