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John Merritt, Office of the VP for Research, firstname.lastname@example.org, (612) 624-2609
Jeff Falk, University News Service, email@example.com, (612) 626-1720
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (06/23/2011) —The University of Minnesota has licensed technology to Aria CV, Inc., to develop and commercialize a medical device for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. A devastating disease that often strikes in the prime of life, pulmonary hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs that can lead to heart failure.
The technology was invented by former fellows in the U of M’s Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows Program: veterinarian John Scandurra; engineer Karl Vollmers; engineer, lawyer and businessman Eric Little; and medical doctor Christopher Scorzelli. Scandurra will serve as CEO and Vollmers will serve as vice president of research and development for the new privately held start-up company based in St. Paul, Minn.
“The patients whose lives we aim to improve are extremely sick and aren’t being helped by presently available pharmacologic therapies,” Vollmers said. “There is a significant market and medical need to treat these patients.”
The Medical Devices Center Innovation Fellows Program is an intensive year-long, full immersion educational and intellectual property development program for medical devices at the University of Minnesota. A cross-disciplinary team, with a combination of degrees in engineering, medicine and biosciences, interfaces daily with faculty, medical professionals and industry collaborators to develop and test ideas for new medical devices with the goal of improving health care worldwide. In just the first three years of the program, the Innovation Fellows have secured 32 provisional patents, one licensing agreement and two start-up companies.
“The Medical Devices Fellows program assembles a team of midcareer professionals, gives them a crash course in medical device product development and sends them into hospitals to identify pressing market needs,” explained mechanical engineering professor Art Erdman, director of the U of M’s Medical Devices Center. “The team then works together to narrow down a list of hundreds of needs to only a few that they work to further develop and, ideally, commercialize.”
“This is a great example of an innovative program that fosters collaboration across disciplines at the university,” said Tim Mulcahy, the U of M’s vice president for research. “The fact that this technology is moving rapidly to the point where it will benefit those who suffer from this disease is further evidence of the exceptional work being done in the fellows program.”
The invention was initially funded by the Medical Devices Center, which is sponsored by the U of M’s College of Science and Engineering and the Academic Health Center. Aria CV Inc., is a C Corporation funded by private investors.