Impact Report 2018

A Unit of the Medical School Office of Research

Steven L. Kunkel, Ph.D. Senior Associate Dean for Research

Dear Colleagues,

2018 was a record-setting year in biomedical innovation at Michigan Medicine and across the University of Michigan, and Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI) was an integral part of our success.

This groundbreaking program serves as an entry point for accessing and utilizing the rich biomedical innovation ecosystem at the University of Michigan for our faculty, trainees, and students, as well as external partners from industry and other sectors.

FFMI acts as an innovation pipeline, offering funding, education, and business development resources to help navigate the road to successful innovation and commercialization.

From entrepreneurial organizations on campus to partners in Michigan and across the globe, FFMI is creating an environment and culture that nurtures technologies and supports life science innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship.

I invite you to explore a year in biomedical innovation at the University of Michigan with Fast Forward Medical Innovation.

Steven L. Kunkel signature
Steven L. Kunkel, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Dean for Research
Interim, Chief Scientific Officer
Endowed Professor of Pathology Research

Fast Forward Medical Innovation's mission is to provide the tools, resources, and mentorship to help establish Michigan Medicine and the University of Michigan as the leaders in biomedical innovation in the state of Michigan and beyond. We look forward to exploring and creating more unique opportunities and initiatives that support our colleagues, campus collaborators, and external partners as they accelerate ideas down the commercialization path, with the ultimate goal of improved patient care.
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Strong Industry Partnerships

+ M
Industry Sponsored Awards
Award Count
Invention Reports
Business Startups
License Agreements

Fiscal Year 2018 metrics reflect activity across the U-M Medical School

featured Industry Partnership leadersFast Forward Medical Innovation offers external industry partners access to an academic research powerhouse, and provides internal U-M researchers with an experienced guide to approaching industry and establishing research collaborations. The FFMI BD team drives the external collaboration deal-making process, leads initial collaboration discussions, works to execute agreements, and finalizes implementation, metric tracking, and relationship management.
Elif A. Oral, M.D., M.S.

Global Leader in Lipodystrophy Research Collaborates with FFMI to Shine a Spotlight on Rare Disease

Lipodystrophy is a rare, currently incurable syndrome tied to a number of diseases, and causes diabetes and very high triglyceride levels. Life-threatening complications are caused by a decrease in the hormone Leptin and result in symptoms like uncontrolled body fat loss or accumulation and a stressed liver.

Elif A. Oral, M.D., M.S., is a Professor in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes and an internationally recognized clinician scientist in the field of lipodystrophy. She spearheaded the development of the only approved therapy for this condition, and currently leads the clinical care strategy for the largest lipodystrophy patient population in the United States. Her groundbreaking research includes determining correct medication choices for patients across all age groups, in addition to advocating for the early diagnosis and treatment of children.

The Fast Forward Medical Innovation Business Development team has worked closely with Dr. Oral on collaborations with pharmaceutical companies Aegerion and Regeneron, as well as Akcea Therapeutics and Gemphire Therapeutics, and helped coordinate world-wide clinical trials, with U-M serving as the main trial site. FFMI also partnered with Dr. Oral to help organize "Lipodystrophy Symposium 2018: A Call for Global Action," an international, patient-centric lipodystrophy symposium that included clinicians, researchers, patients, and companies.

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Commercialization Education

Participants in commercialization education programs
Commercialization education programs serving biomedical innovators across the University of Michigan, and across the state, region, and nation
Follow-on funding awarded to date for teams that have gone through an FFMI education program
New innovations from project teams across the University of Michigan, and across the state, region, and nation

featured Commercialization Education participantsOur portfolio of education initiatives – Program Accelerating Commercialization Education (PACE) – creates a culture of innovation by teaching the foundational elements of biomedical and life science entrepreneurship and helps move groundbreaking biomedical research toward patient impact.

Our dynamic educational programs serve learners at all stages in their innovation journeys – including biomedical researchers, clinicians, medical residents & fellows, postdocs, medical students, graduate students, and undergraduates across the University of Michigan and beyond.
FullPace logo

Multi-week course provides hands-on learning and expert guidance

FastPace logo

4-week hybrid course for early-stage projects

FirstPace logo

One-time events provide topic-focused learning opportunities

FFMI fastPACE Train-the-Trainer

Hands-on, collaborative learning experience teaches program planners how to launch FFMI fastPACE at their home institutions

FFMI Customized Programming

Tailored programming for individual departments, centers, institutes, and other collaborators

Joyce Lee, M.D., M.P.H.

Interactive Workshop Utilizes Patient Experience to Create Healthcare Innovations

Fast Forward Medical Innovation works with faculty and researchers to develop a variety of commercialization education programs. Innovate + Health: A Patient-Centered Design Thinking Workshop, was a collaboration between Fast Forward Medical Innovation, the UMMS Path of Excellence in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and

Hosted by Joyce Lee, M.D., M.P.H., Robert Kelch Professor of Pediatrics and FFMI Health IT Champion, this groundbreaking, hands-on workshop focused on using the methods of design thinking (Empathy, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test) as a solution-based approach to solving problems in healthcare.

Participants, including faculty, staff, and students, worked directly with patients and caregivers to gather feedback and insight on challenges with their healthcare experiences in order to create new innovations.

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Funding & Mentorship

MTRAC logo

The MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub is administered by FFMI and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation

$ M
Annual funding statewide
$+ M
U-M Therapeutic Innovation Fund
$ K
U-M Fast Forward GI Innovation Fund
MTRAC startups
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Early-stage funding awards in the $25K to $50K range enable researchers to develop and validate innovative technologies for possible funding from later-stage sources.

Mi-Kickstart early-stage projects
$+ M
in follow-on funding since 2014 launch
MiTRAC logo

Mid-stage funding awards in the $100K- $250K range bring researchers' cutting-edge technology to the point of commercial reality.

Mi-TRAC mid-stage projects
$+ M
in follow-on funding since 2014 launch

The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) for Life Sciences Innovation Hub is a statewide program that supports translational research projects in life sciences with high commercial potential in the areas of therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, and health IT.

MEDC logoWith the ultimate goal of positively impacting human health, the program offers early-stage funding opportunities through Mi-Kickstart, and Mi-TRAC is our funding program for mid-stage commercialization projects. Innovators from all schools at the University of Michigan, other institutions of higher education, non-profit research centers, and hospital systems across Michigan are eligible to submit projects for funding consideration.
Michael Lanham, M.D. and Kristina Bak, R.N.

Tool Provides Precise Management of IVF Treatments

In vitro fertilization (IVF) can be a difficult and emotional process. The goal of an IVF cycle is a healthy baby, but patients and their partners have to manage a complex program of medications when precise dosage and time of administration can be critical to the success of the in vitro fertilization cycle.

Michael Lanham, M.D., an Assistant Professor in Obstetrics & Gynecology, received MTRAC funding towards developing OnTrack™, a dynamic medication management digital tool that provides patients with better control over their fertility medication supply and the entire IVF process.

Current apps do not have the capability to warn patients about upcoming medication refill needs based on doses that can change daily, so IVF patients have to individually manage the complex process of medication inventory, administration, and refills. This results in medication errors affecting as many as 15% of patients. Not having the right medication at the right time can be the difference between a successful pregnancy or a failed – and expensive – in vitro fertilization cycle.

With OnTrack™, the app creates a way for patients and health care providers to better coordinate care, including a checklist that allows clinic staff to input which IVF medications to expect and patients to input their current inventory and name of pharmacy. The software enables patients to see when and how they can pick their upcoming medications and provide alerts on when they're running low.

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Monroe-Brown Seed Fund

Portfolio companies since launch
out of 9 companies have received follow-on funding/co-investments
of follow-on funding for every $1 of Monroe-Brown Seed Fund
$+ M
Total follow-on funding for all companies combined

Monroe-Brown Seed Fund participantsThe Monroe-Brown Seed Fund is the first-ever venture seed fund at the University of Michigan specifically intended to help drive the success of U-M biomedical start-ups. With a $3 million gift from the Monroe-Brown Foundation (with leadership from Monroe-Brown Seed Fund trustee and U-M engineering alumnus, Robert M. Brown) the fund awards $50,000-$300,000 in seed money to biomedical startup companies formed around U-M licensed technology.

A collaborative effort between U-M Medical School's Fast Forward Medical Innovation program and the U-M College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship, the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund serves a critical function at the later stages of the academic biomedical innovation pipeline as academic research moves down the path of product development and commercialization to startup formation. The funding provided by the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund is intended to be the final piece needed to drive follow-on funding by private sources or partnering or acquisition by a larger corporation. The goal is to continue to attract world-class research to U-M, securing the University's position as the leader in translational research.
James Moon, Ph.D. and Ann Schwendeman, Ph.D.

Bridging the Early-Stage Funding Gap Faced by U-M Biomedical Startups

EVOQ THERAPEUTICS, LLC is one of the first U-M biomedical startup companies to receive funding from the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund. It is a cancer immunotherapy company focused on unleashing the full power and potential of cancer vaccines to improve patients' lives.

The scientific team behind EVOQ Therapeutics, University of Michigan researchers Anna Schwendeman, Ph.D., and James Moon, Ph.D., utilized cross-campus collaboration between the College of Pharmacy and Biomedical Engineering to create and develop the technology.

To date, EVOQ Therapeutics has received $300K from the Monroe-Brown Seed Fund. This critical funding gave Schwendeman and Moon the resources they needed to hire and retain top tier talent in the company's leadership roles. Now, with the team's solid scientific foundation combined with impressive industry experience and expertise, EVOQ Therapeutics is well positioned for future success and additional funding opportunities.

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Blueprint for the Future

featured FFMI InnovatorsAre you ready to join a community of people who are passionate about finding cures, preventing diseases, and improving quality of life for patients and their families?

As FFMI strives to positively impact patient care by nurturing innovation, mentoring entrepreneurship, and guiding successful commercialization, please consider a donation to help us continue this important work.

Make a gift to FFMI
Contact Chris Shoemaker, Senior Director of Development, at or 734-763-9537

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Thank you to our colleagues and partners

for providing unparalleled support and encouragement to help Fast Forward Medical Innovation successfully build a program that enhances biomedical and life science research innovation at the University of Michigan, across the state, and beyond. Your generous support helps us create valuable funding and mentorship opportunities, industry connectivity, along with highly effective educational programming to support biomedical research and commercialization.

FFMI partner logos MEDC, U-M Medical School, U.S. EDA, NIH, U-M Business Engagement Center, U-M Center for Entrepreneurship, U-M MICHR, U-M Tech Transfer

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