Vol. 12 No. 5 - December, 2009

Nurturing ideas

M2D2 is an incubator for invention

M2D2 Barringhaus web
UMass Lowell
Kurt Barringhaus, MD, (center, pictured at the November M2D2 Showcase) is working on a low cost advanced inpatient monitoring device.

The high-tech connotations evoked by the acronym of “M2D2” aren’t entirely out of this world—it is the nickname for the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center and some of the technology breakthroughs arising from this initiative wouldn’t seem out of place in a Star Wars movie. While no robots per se were featured at a recent M2D2 Inventor Showcase, product introductions did include sophisticated inventions whose journeys from concept to market are being guided by M2D2. “Our successful collaborations have yielded important products including a miniature blood pressure sensor for invasive cardiovascular monitoring, improved ergonomic scalpel designs, innovation in automated assessment of microbiopsies and new technology to determine rates of fracture healing,” said Sheila Noone, PhD, assistant vice provost for clinical research at UMass Medical School, who is co-director of M2D2 along with Stephen McCarthy, PhD, professor of plastics engineering at UMass Lowell.

UMMS projects and inventors featured at the November M2D2 showcase
  • Low Cost Miniature Blood Pressure Sensor for Invasive Cardiovascular Monitoring—Kurt G. Barringhaus, MD, assistant professor of medicine;
  • Ergonomic Scalpel Handle Design for Accurate Incision(s)—Raymond M. Dunn, MD, professor of surgery and cell biology;
  • Load Sensing Nail for Determining Rates of Fracture Healing—John J. Wixted, MD, assistant professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation;
  • Automating the Assessment of Adequacy for Microbiopsies—Andrew H. Fischer, MD, professor of pathology and cell biology;
  • CareGuide Patient Monitor: Continuous, Noninvasive Assessment of Tissue Perfusion and Acidosis—Babs R. Soller, PhD, professor of anesthesiology and surgery;
  • High Performance Gamma Camera for CardiacSPECT—Joyoni Dey, PhD, assistant professor of radiology;
  • Preclinical Evaluation of Medical Devices in Image Guided Surgery—Matthew J. Gounis, PhD, assistant professor of radiology;
  • Noble Gas Hyperpolarizers for Functional MR Imaging of the Lungs and Brain— Mitchell S. Albert, PhD, professor of radiology.

Spearheaded by Dr. McCarthy and formally established by him and Dr. Noone in 2006, M2D2 facilitates the development of medical devices from proof-of-concept to commercialization, offering inventors and small medical device companies easy, affordable and coordinated access to world-class resources for research engineering and clinical investigations at both campuses. UMass Medical School brings medical expertise and resources, from initial assessments of device proposals to supporting inventors and manufacturers through the complete life cycle of clinical studies, while its clinical partnership with UMass Memorial Medical Center provides ready access to participants for clinical trials. UMass Lowell contributes its world-renowned engineering expertise and plastics laboratories, as well as offers incubator facilities and business analysis and planning support for medical device entrepreneurs.

“M2D2 demonstrates how ideas for new approaches can be nurtured with small amounts of money complementing human and institutional resources,” Noone noted. Launched with an initial $135,000 seed grant from the UMass President’s Science and Technology Fund, M2D2 funding grew with a $150,000 Regional Priority Grant from the Massachusetts John Adams Innovation Institute in 2007, followed with a $500,000 Project Catalyst Grant from the institute in 2008 , and skyrocketed with this year’s $4 million capital commitment from Governor Patrick to build out M2D2 incubator space at UMass Lowell. “As M2D2 has grown, we have learned from our previous efforts, progressing from a small, grassroots effort to more formalized processes and longer-term strategies,” Noone noted. “The evolution has been rewarding for everyone involved.”

In addition to M2D2 co-directors Noone and McCarthy, featured speakers at the inventor’s showcase, held in November at UMMS, were Chancellor Michael F. Collins and Vice Provost for Research John Sullivan.