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Sac State's biomedical team wins top honors

09-03-2014

In the media: "Sacramento State biomedical team's breakthrough could change the way you heal," CBS 13

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From left: Adjunct Professor John Chapman, biological sciences student Manmeet Singh and Professor Warren Smith.

Sacramento State’s biomedical team recently was cited as the one best positioned to bring advanced laboratory research to the marketplace. The honor was bestowed at the University of Michigan, which hosted a national online course on the most effective way to market medical breakthroughs.

Each of the 24 teams, including squads from Harvard, Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford and the University of Michigan, was required to interview 100 prospective clients.

Sacramento State’s team consisted of biological sciences student Manmeet Singh as entrepreneurial lead, Adjunct Professor John Chapman as mentor, and Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Warren D. Smith as principal investigator.

On July 1, Smith secured a highly competitive $50,000 National Science Foundation grant to create a three-person NSF I-Corps Team. The Hornet squad headed to Ann Arbor, Mich., in August to begin an online course on how to market its Autologous Thrombin Device (ATD), which could prove to be a significant medical breakthrough.

The innovative, low-cost ATD can produce autologous (i.e., from the patient’s own blood) thrombin to aid tissue and bone healing. Thrombin is an enzyme formed to facilitate the clotting of blood.

Chapman’s patent-pending product ultimately could replace the current bovine-derivative process that has been deemed unsafe by the Food and Drug Administration and has been shunned in Europe. The online instructors suggested that Sac State’s team target the European market.

The squad had to scramble to get University permission for Singh to make a subsequent trip to Amsterdam, where she made an online course presentation Aug. 12. Smith says the undergraduate was a natural choice because she had worked on this project for three years and was part of the Idea to Product (I2P) team that won an unprecedented third straight title in a statewide biotechnology competition. What’s more, Smith added, she has a persuasive presence.

From Amsterdam, Singh traveled to Brussels and Paris, where she met with prospective clients, one of whom flew from Geneva to discuss the Sacramento State team’s product. She returned home to complete the online portion of the course. Then it was back to Ann Arbor for the Aug. 25-26 event, when the Hornet team showed a two-minute YouTube video and did a PowerPoint presentation. Singh also will conduct European client interviews via Skype.

Sacramento State’s expanding global reach now seems destined for Europe. So says Professor Smith, whose teams have dominated the California State University I2P competition for three straight years.

Smith says the online instructors praised the Hornet squad for being “on the ground” in Europe. He believes that the NSF sees Sacramento State as a “can do” university, and that should help secure additional grants. The funding could make the crucial difference in the University’s creation of a Biomedical Device Development Center, a collaborative effort combining the resources of area health care centers and industry, and several Sac State colleges to discover and perfect projects that have commercial potential.

“I am pleased to congratulate the student and faculty members of Sacramento State’s I-Corps team for their impressive success on an international stage,” says Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez. “The project demonstrates the enormous potential of the applied research we do at Sacramento State.”

For more information on the project, you may contact Professor Smith at smithwd@ecs.csus.edu  or 278-6458. For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156. – Alan Miller