CLEVELAND—The Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership has announced more than $1 million in funding and support for the 2015 cycle. This includes six full biomedical engineering projects, from an affordable and easy method to screen for Barrett’s esophagus, to synthetic life-saving blood platelets, to a technology that reduces pain after joint-replacement surgery.
The 9-year-old program, a partnership between Case Western Reserve University and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, invests more than $1 million a year in direct funding and support services to help research teams from Case Western Reserve advance products from the laboratory to the marketplace, where they can be available to improve patient care.
“For nearly 10 years, the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership has provided unique direct resources for successfully moving concepts toward becoming products, and has enriched the culture of the Biomedical Engineering Department and the entire university through faculty education and support for the translational process,” said Robert Kirsch, PhD, professor and chairman of the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.
The campus community is invited to celebrate the appointment of biomedical engineering department chair Robert F. Kirsch as the Allen H. and Constance T. Ford Professor in Biomedical Engineering.
A chairing ceremony will take place Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 4:30 p.m., in the Nord Atrium.
Guests can RSVP to Angela-Lauren@case.edu.
Case Western Reserve University has appointed Robert F. Kirsch chairman of the biomedical engineering department and Kenneth A. Loparo chairman of the electrical engineering and computer science department.
Kirsch and Loparo are prolific researchers, proven leaders among their peers and consistently highly regarded in annual student reviews.
“They are doers who will take action and move the departments forward; in both cases, shaping the vision for the future rather than reacting to the future,” said Jeffrey Duerk, dean of the Case School of Engineering.
Last May, news broke that the world was speeding into the realm of science fiction. Cathy Hutchinson, a woman left paralyzed in all four limbs due to a stroke, was able to drink a bottle of coffee using a robotic arm simply by imagining the action. Directed solely by Hutchinson’s thoughts, the robot gave Hutchinson the ability to control her environment without a caretaker’s assistance for the first time in 15 years. Taking that independent sip, the then 58-year-old cracked a smile.
This was the work of BrainGate2 Neural Interface System scientists, whose research aims to develop technology to restore communication ability, mobility, and independence to people suffering from neurological disease, injury, or limb loss.
Seven years ago, Case Western Reserve University’s own Robert Kirsch began working with the BrainGate2 team, comprised of scientists from Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital. Now, Kirsch is bringing a trial study home to Cleveland.
While the BrainGate2 study as a whole revolves around general body-brain interface, the Cleveland trials specifically aim to recreate results more like Hutchinson’s. Kirsch, chair of the biomedical engineering department at CWRU, explained his team’s research goals.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and its primary affiliate University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center will begin testing the first of two technologies they plan to combine in a new effort to enable people with paralysis to regain some control of their arms and hands.
The physicians and scientists are now enrolling participants in the first part of this effort, a pilot clinical trial to assess the safety and feasibility of recording brain activity for control of assistive devices. The brain activity is recorded as the participants imagine using their arms and hands.
Long-term, the goal is to bypass severed connections between the brain and the paralyzed muscles by using the participants’ own brain signals as commands directing electrical impulses to their muscles and generating movement. To do this, the investigational brain recording technology studied in this trial will be combined with CWRU’s long-standing expertise in restoring movement to paralyzed individuals using electrical stimulation.
Robert Kirsch, chair of the Case Western Reserve University biomedical engineering department and executive director of the Functional Electrical Stimulation Center of Excellence at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, has been working with researchers at Brown University and Massachusetts General Hospital for nearly seven years, laying the groundwork for launching the study site in Cleveland.
“When we ask patients with tetraplegia their number one priority, they tell us they want to rub their nose and eyes,” Kirsch said. “It’s the simple things they can’t do. They rely on caregivers for everything, and these technologies could restore some independence.”