Maryland Innovation Initiative Invests in Johns Hopkins Biomedical Projects
A Maryland corporation established to help accelerate the commercialization of new technologies has awarded nearly $300,000 to three Johns Hopkins-related projects that hold promise for ushering new medical devices to the marketplace.
In its first round of investments, the Maryland Innovation Initiative (MII) on Dec. 19 gave awards to BOSS Medical LLC, a Johns Hopkins University startup company; and to two school of medicine faculty members who are working on other medical devices.
BOSS Medical, which is developing a novel way to harvest bone grafts in a minimally invasive way, received a $99,860 award. Edith Gurewitsch Allen, an associate professor of gynecology/obstetrics in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, was given $99,818 to support her research concerning an umbilical cord blood collection device. The third award, for $100,000, went to Kieren A. Marr, a professor of medicine, who is studying a new point-of-care diagnostic device for lung infections.
Two of these projects — the BOSS Medical and cord blood systems — originated as Johns Hopkins student devices in the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID). CBID offers a master’s degree program aimed at developing innovative biomedical devices for the global marketplace. The biomedical engineering (BME) department is jointly administered by the university’s Whiting School of Engineering and school of medicine.
“The investment that the school of engineering and the BME department has made in translational technology development, through CBID, is really paying off with important new solutions to unmet clinical needs,” said Elliot McVeigh, director of the biomedical engineering department. “This funding comes at an ideal time to bridge the gap for these projects from very early technology into local medtech startups.”
Created by the Maryland General Assembly, the Maryland Innovation Initiative was set up to commercialize technology developed at five qualifying Maryland universities, including Johns Hopkins. The others are the University of Maryland, College Park; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; University of Maryland, Baltimore; and Morgan State University. Administered by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), the MII has a $5.8 million budget for the 2013 fiscal year. This year’s awards are the group’s first major investments.
BOSS Medical is developing a system to enhance the success rate of a spinal surgery procedure by using a bone graft from the patient’s own body, retrieved in a less expensive, safer and less painful manner. The TheraCord system promises to collect a much greater supply of cord blood, which is gathered from the umbilical cord and placenta after a live birth. This blood is the most viable source of stem cells.
Youseph Yazdi, executive director of CBID, commended the state for the financial support for these projects. “This new TEDCO program provides critical gap funding to move these great innovations into startups that will grow Maryland’s medtech commercial ecosystem,” he said. “Without it, many of these ideas may not realize their potential to save lives and create jobs in Maryland.”
Maxim Budyansky, co-founder and chief technology officer of BOSS Medical, began work on the bone-harvesting device as a CBID master’s student in 2010. He and fellow student Neil Shah launched the company with three school of medicine clinical advisers after completing the program in 2011.
“We are grateful that Maryland is providing such a great funding environment,” said Budyansky. “Without this funding, we wouldn’t be able to pursue our goal of achieving clinical impact with new technology.”