BI Challenges and Seed Funds

Challenges and Seed Funds

Challenges are thematic workshops that bring together BI researchers with a broad range of faculty from other UM departments and industrial partners to address a pressing biomedical topic.

BI Challenges embrace a highly interactive format through breakout sessions, where researchers are expected to actively contribute ideas and approaches and generate new collaboration or research topics in the thematic area. Challenges are often organized in collaboration with an industry partner, academic unit or research institute.

To date, 7 BI Challenges have been held with participation from over 300 researchers from the medical school, engineering, pharmacy, dentistry and physical sciences at UM as well as industrial partners.

The topics of these Challenges were:

  • Noble Metal Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications (in collaboration with IMRA)
  • Detecting Rare Cells and Particles
  • Nanomedicine
  • Materials Technologies for Cancer Therapies (in collaboration with Translational Oncology Program)
  • B-EYE: Technologies to Solve Ophthalmological Diseases (in collaboration with the Kellogg Eye Center)
  • Next Generation Cancer Therapies (in collaboration with the Comprehensive Cancer Center)
  • Diabetes and Its Complications (in collaboration with the A. Alfred Taubman Research Institute)

Seed Funds

To promote and accelerate interdisciplinary collaborations that emerge out of the Challenges, a seed fund competition is run in conjunction with each Challenge. BI provides financial support as well as access to BI facilities to proposals that address new research ideas with high potential for impact, follow-on funding and in topical alignment with the Challenge.

To date, BI has distributed $1.2 million in seed funds to 17 successful research teams at 6 Challenges.

Many of the ideas that have emerge from the Challenges have led to the teaming of multidisciplinary researchers who are actively pursuing these topics. Ongoing projects that have emerged from previous Challenges have resulted in numerous proposals, patent applications, scientific publications and presentations and garnered follow-on funding from internal UM sources as well as external grant agencies and foundations.

Examples include:

  • Novel delivery platforms for Glioma Therapeutics (currently funded by NIH R01 grant)
    Team: Researchers from Med School, Pharmacy, Engineering, Physics and Chemistry
  • Development of Capture Devices for Circulating Tumor Cells (currently funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure)
    Team: Researchers from Med School, Engineering
  • Tunable Polymer for Single Cell Analysis (currently funded by NIH)
    Team: Researchers from Med School, Engineering

The Biointerfaces Institute brings extensive experience to the collaborations that lead to scientific breakthroughs, successful translation, and advanced learning.

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